I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones in this life. I grew up with two loving parents, and although we were not rich, I had everything as a child that anybody in my country could desire.
As a young man, I started attending college, but I soon dropped out because I realized that I didn't want to be a lawyer or a doctor or an engineer. I wanted something different for my life. I decided that I was going to go after the things that made me happy.
From the time that I was very young, I have always been very competitive. In school, I participated actively in every sport and always played to win! I loved the excitement of competition!
It was this thrill of competition that led me to leave school to follow my dreams and start my pursuit of a career as a race car driver. I enrolled in one of the most expensive schools in Mexico City for "Mechanic Technicians". Then, after I graduated from the school, I knocked on the door of a racecar team not far from my home in Coyoacan, Mexico City. I started by working with race cars and became one of the mechanics for the number one race car driver in Mexico at that time, 1983 to 1984. I was only 19 years old.
My goal, however, was to be a race car driver, not just a race car mechanic.
Since I had no money to finance this dream, I decided to go to the United States, where I believed I would find the opportunity to get into the driver’s seats of the Formula Indy or NASCAR cars.
I could have asked my parents to help me get a visa and even help me to get a place to stay with relatives already living here in the US, but there was no challenge in that. I had made the decision that if I was going to make something more of myself, I was going to do it with only what I had at that time.
So, although I didn’t need to, I came to this country illegally in 1984 (I left my home in Mexico City on May 22nd, 1984) when I was only 20 years old. It took me 7 months from the time I left my home to get to Mexicali Baja California Norte where I started to try to cross the border illegally. I could not get across the first time I tried. I was sent back to Mexicali and spent a month living on the street, working at whatever I could find so that I could eat that day! If I could not find work, I would not eat!
Finally, on January 5th, 1985 I managed to cross the border without getting caught. I spent three nights walking in the desert from the Mexicali border until I was able to hop a train that would take me all the way to Indio.
In February 1985 I got a US driver's license, bought a car in March and drove to Los Angeles where I have lived ever since.
By coming to this country illegally, I wanted to prove to myself that I could overcome the barriers that less fortunate people had faced and had overcome to get here.
I also wanted to see how difficult it was for people to get here without anything but the shirts on their backs and to make new lives for themselves once they got here.
(Two years later, in 1987, I took advantage of the amnesty and eventually became a US citizen in 1994.)
There were many things that I did not take into consideration back then. Leaving home with no money and leaving behind everything that had been my life was hard.
At the same time, it was the path that I had chosen, and the hardships I faced and overcame have created the man that I am today.
When I got to this country, I didn't have anything, I didn't speak English, and I had to start at the bottom.
I soon joined the men who were looking for work on the street corners of LA as day laborers.
My favorite corner was Pico Blvd. and La Brea in West Los Angeles. It was rough, but I had a great hunger to make it in this country, and I had very high dreams.
I had an advantage over the other guys who were there with me on the corner; I had some education, and I never gave up in my effort to achieve my goals.
It was on that corner at Pico Blvd. and La Brea that I found good people - people who gave me an opportunity to work and learn new things.
One day I was picked up by a framer who took me to do day labor work at a construction site. I learned quickly, and a few months later, I was framing 30-40,000 square foot houses in Beverly Hills. I was offered this opportunity, and I took it!
At that point, I decided to put the dream of becoming a race car driver on hold.
I soon learned how to do excavation and foundation work, plumbing, electrical, drywall, and stucco work. I worked in just about all the trades required to build a house from the ground up. I found out that it was easier to build a house than it was to build a race car.
In 1990 I took the test to get my contractor’s license. I was the only Mexican and the youngest man (26 years old) taking the test at that time. In those days, only 20% of the people passed the test the first time, and I did it!
When I got my contractor’s license and started working as a general contractor, I realized that even though I knew how to build a house, I had no idea how to run a construction business. I decided to go to work for another contractor to learn business management and marketing skills.
I started working as a carpenter doing piece work for Silva Construction in Manhattan Beach in 1993. I soon became the company manager, and by 1995 I was running the whole company by myself. The owner of the company would leave me for months at a time to run the business on my own while he was out of town.
In 1997 the business was incorporated, and I was made a partner.
As a partner in Silva Construction, I did hundreds of projects in Manhattan Beach and all over the South Bay. Many people in this area know me and know that I can deliver the product that they want – from the simplest repair to a complete remodel or home addition.
In April 2009, I decided that it was time to strike out on my own and create my own business. I had worked with Silva Construction for 16 years! I was ready! I separated from Silva Construction, but I still keep in communication with my ex-partners in the business!
As for the race car driver dream, I think that I have found new goals that are far more valuable than being a race car celebrity and thinking only about myself.
I have started helping other people to achieve their dreams by teaching them how to run a successful construction company with the proven business management technology that I have learned and applied.
I want to help others by sharing the knowledge that has made my life easier and more enjoyable. This is my way of “paying it forward”.