The year's top Hispanic entrepreneur – as chosen by Hispanic Business magazine – is Enrique A. Tessada, a Mexican immigrant, Navy veteran, and documentary filmmaker whose Tessada & Associates infrastructure solutions company now employs more than 600 people in 17 states.
His selection was announced Thursday night as Hispanic Business magazine's 16th Annual EOY awards gala honored the brightest stars to emerge recently in the field of Hispanic entrepreneurship. Mr. Tessada was chosen from a field of 15 Hispanic entrepreneurs, each of whom was recognized for setting a standard of excellence and for advancing the U.S. Hispanic market.
Mr. Tessada also received the Hispanic Business Entrepreneur of the Year Award for top entrepreneur in the Trade Industry, one of five distinct industry categories also honored at the event.
Winners in other categories were Rainier Gonzalez of Pacer Health Corporation, Rising Star; Bonnie García of Market Vision, Latina; Goodman brothers of Goodman Networks, InfoBusiness; and Tony Rey Sr., Rey Homes, Heavy Industry.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Dionicio Morales, founder of the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF) and a long-time advocate for Mexican Americans since the 1960s.
It's Never Too Late
This year's EOY winner is the founder of Tessada & Associates, Inc. an infrastructure solutions company based in Springfield, Va. Mr. Tessada emigrated to the U.S. in 1960 from Mexico City. After graduating from Texas A&M University he went on to earn a graduate degree in international policy at John Hopkins University.
He led a distinguished 20-year career in the U.S. Navy, including time aboard helicopters looking for Soviet submarines. During the Vietnam War, he helped create policies for foreign military sales for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In his military career, he managed multi-million dollar programs for the Navy, the Army and the Agency for International Development. His government experience would help lay the groundwork for his future business.
In 1993, at the age of 50 – an age when most professionals have settled comfortably into their careers – Mr. Tessada started his company with $500 and a used Compaq computer. Since its inception a lucky 13 years ago, Tessada & Associates has grown into a multi-million-dollar infrastructure solutions company with more than 650 employees and a client list that includes NASA and the U.S. Department of Labor, among others. Tessada & Associates provides a large suite of services that include facilities management, information technology and multimedia services.
In his free time, Mr. Tessada continues his long-time commitment to the arts, funding scholarships at George Mason University's School of Visual and Performing Arts. He also serves on the Arts board of directors at Mason Partnership, an organization committed to keeping the arts a vital part of community life.
Industry Category Winners
Other winners showing excellence in their respective industries included:
•Latina: Since Bonnie García founded Market Vision in 1998, her Hispanic-focused agency – known as a "street smart" marketing firm – has drawn some of the nation's top corporate giants, including Miller Brewing Company, General Mills, and Coca-Cola.
The one-time radio disc jockey spent more than two decades heading marketing departments for beverage giant Coca-Cola and Stroh Brewery before launching Market Vision. In May, she bought back Market Vision from her former partners, the publicly-traded CoActive Marketing Group, making Market Vision 100-percent female and minority owned.
Under Ms. García's leadership, Market Vision has grown more than 200 percent in the last three years and has added advertising, media planning and buying, and public relations to its service lineup. It has offices in Atlanta, Dallas, Memphis, Chicago, and New York. Ms. García, a native of San Antonio, is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.
•InfoBusiness: The Goodman Brothers founded Goodman Networks in February 2000 – just prior to the collapse of the telecom sector.
While many telecommunications companies stumbled badly or didn't survive, Goodman Networks became one of the leading providers of wireline, wireless, and outside plant solutions for both carriers and manufacturers.
In 2005, Goodman Networks was named among the fastest-growing technology companies in the U.S. by Deloitte and the ninth-fastest growing in the Deloitte Texas Crescent area. That same year, the firm was honored as the Class Four Minority Business Enterprise Supplier of the Year for the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Before co-founding his company, Mr. Goodman worked at Verizon, where he was involved in various network design projects for Intel and Nike, among others.
Mr. Goodman is a certified LAN engineer with a bachelor's degree from Texas Tech University.
•Rising Star: Rainier Gonzalez's Pacer Health Corporation specializes in acquiring financially struggling hospitals that it can fix. So far it's worked.
For the past three years, Mr. Gonzalez has managed the operations of hospitals within the Pacer Hospital system – a network of six facilities in the Southeast totaling 148 licensed beds and with approximately $30 million in net revenues.
Billed as an expert in turning around ailing hospitals, Mr. Gonzalez has successfully directed the turnaround of all of Pacer Health's acquired hospitals, and has guided the company from a loss to a $400,000 profit in fewer than two years.
Before founding Pacer Health, Mr. Gonzalez was a principal in two south Florida financial services firms and served as principal and vice-president of business development for Brick Mountain LLC, a profitable Internet company that was sold to Jupitermedia.
Mr. Gonzalez holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Florida International University. He earned his law degree, magna cum laude, from the Indiana University School of Law and worked as a law clerk for Judge Denny Chin of the Southern District of New York.
•Heavy Industry: Tony Rey, Sr.'s company is one of the top home-building firms in Central Florida.
Based in Orlando, Rey Homes specializes in building and developing high-end homes at affordable prices. For three consecutive years, Hispanic Business magazine has listed Rey Homes among the fastest growing Hispanic-owned companies in the U.S.
Mr. Rey and his wife, Isabel, founded Rey Homes in 1978, some eight years after he emigrated to the United States from Cuba at the age of 22. His first job was working as a dishwasher at an Orlando restaurant, and spent his free time taking English classes at a local community college. Not long after, he got his first loan to build a custom home.
As interest rates began to rise in the 1980s, Mr. Rey ventured into the affordable housing market. As the economy began to turn around, he decided to offer the quality workmanship of custom homes at affordable prices.
Mr. Rey is the former president of the United Methodist Church Council of Ministries and is a member of Fannie Mae's National Advisory Council. Florida Governor Jeb Bush appointed Mr. Rey to the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority board.
A Lifetime of Service
This year's Lifetime Achievement Award winner founded what has become one of the largest Hispanic-serving nonprofits in the country. The Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF), with an annual budget of $55 million, serves more than 100,000 Californians. It also provides childcare services for an estimated 8,000 children each day.
Described by some of his admirers as the "urban Cesar Chavez," Mr. Morales has worked tirelessly for more than four decades to create equal work opportunities for Hispanics, who for many years had been relegated to service jobs.
"He has been relentless, absolutely focused and driven in his advocacy for the rights of the poor," Jesus Chavarria, editor and publisher of Hispanic Business magazine told guests gathered at the Millennium Hotel. "There are few individuals among us today who can match the historical stature and profile of (Mr. Morales)."
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