Paso del Norte Entrepreneurship Oral History Project
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Gustavo Rodriguez was born in El Paso, Texas on February 24, 1935. Gustavo is the only child of Marina Gonzales Rodriguez and Juan Rodriguez. Gustavo attended Austin High School in El Paso and received his Bachelor degree in business from Texas Western College (UTEP) in El Paso, Texas. Gustavo served in the United States Navy and is a veteran of the Vietnam War. He is the founder and owner of Basil Glass Incorporated along with his wife Elma Rodriguez. They have three children, one son and two daughters and currently reside in El Paso, Texas.
Summary of Interview
Gustavo learned the glass trade while growing up and working alongside his father. The name of his father’s business was Rodriguez Glass. Gustavo’s father had a hard time purchasing glass at an honest price and would purchase glass from Ciudad Juárez, México until a man from Amarillo approached them about buying the glass from him. Gustavo met his wife Elma when they were in high school and they married five years later. Gustavo was in the United States Navy Construction Battalion Reserves and was drafted into the Vietnam War in the early 1960’s. When Gustavo returned home, he had $500 from the Navy and he and his wife decided to start their own glass business. Gustavo, having witnessed racial discrimination against Hispanics and Hispanic business owners while working with his father, decided name his business Basil after a street they lived on so they wouldn’t be discriminated against as much. Gustavo and Elma still experienced a lot of racial prejudice and discrimination as Hispanic entrepreneurs. They would be denied loans, though they had excellent credit. Gustavo and Elma had a hard time purchasing glass at an honest price and Gustavo recalls that he paid inflated prices in 1969, the same prices he is paying today. Gustavo and Elma and their three children all work together for Basil Glass. Gustavo and Elma were 8A certified and that allowed them to work with government contracts. Their son, Gustavo is also 8A certified. In addition their children have a staffing company, a technology company and a construction company with the United States government. They were instrumental in the BRAC alignment at Fort Bliss. The Rodriguez family also opened a hotel in El Paso. Gustavo and Elma have also been a part of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as well as the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce. Gustavo’s advice for entrepreneurs is, if you want to try something, just do it because you don’t know what you can achieve until you try.
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GMR Transcription Services
Rodriguez, Gustavo, "Interview no. 1487" (2010). Paso del Norte Entrepreneurship Oral History Project. Paper 11.