In 2004, the top three companies on the directory had also reached the $1 billion revenue milestone, and this year there are five.
For years, Brightstar's Mr. Claure told others that reaching No. 1 on the Hispanic Business 500 was a longtime goal. "I would definitely call it a major goal. It is something that we have been striving for."
Achieving the milestone brings him a sense of personal and professional satisfaction. "We are very proud to be a Hispanic-owned company and we are definitely now more proud," he said.
He has used Brightstar's steadily climbing Hispanic Business 500 rankings to help motivate employees. During the year-end meetings with employees, Mr. Claure would mention Brightstar's latest ranking and tell them to take pride in it.
"It's part of our company's identity."
The Hispanic Business 500 has helped define Hispanic-owned companies, but it has also been defined by them. And while the definitions continue to evolve, one truth remains consistent: Banks are a major source of capital for most companies on the elite list.
What has changed since the list debuted is an awareness of Hispanic entrepreneurship's critical role in the U.S. economy.
"It sets a record that Latinos are doing a great job," notes Anthony "Tony" Batarse Jr., CEO of Oakland, California-based Lloyd A. Wise Cos., another 25-year veteran of the list. "The list says that to everyone, not just to Latinos."
Ruben Guerra, chairman and chief executive of the Latin Business Association and owner of R.G. Packaging and Designs, Inc., a retail packaging firm, says the Hispanic Business 500's top firms serve as an inspiration for himself and other small-business owners to grow their companies.
"I believe (the list) is important because it represents the Latino community and helps elevate the confidence of smaller businesses to one day also be part of the top 500 Hispanic-owned business," Mr. Guerra says. "It really inspires me as a small [Hispanic-owned] business."
On The List From Day One ...
Creative Associates International
M. Charito Kruvant, president and CEO of Creative Associates International, faced significant challenges early in her career, primarily because of her gender.
Creative Associates, which currently ranks No. 83, was founded by four women in 1977 and remains one of only a handful of Hispanic Business 500® companies led by a woman.
"I was one of the few women contractors in the government," Ms. Kruvant says. "It was a very high mountain to walk up and a very difficult time for women, in general, to be taken seriously."
Nevertheless, she worked hard and persevered, and that initial listing in Hispanic Business was one small reward, both for her firm and others on the pioneering directory. "Hispanic Business magazine has always been my connection to the world. I learned a lot of how Hispanics were not only having difficult times, but how many Hispanics were succeeding," Ms. Kruvant says. "When the list came out, it was not a surprise, it was a way of rejoicing."
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