Paso del Norte Entrepreneurship Oral History Project
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Elma Rodriguez was born in El Paso, Texas and has nine siblings, five brothers and four sisters. Her parents were from Chihuahua, México. Elma attended Lamar Elementary, El Paso High School and The University of Texas at El Paso. She is married to Gus Rodriguez with three children, one son and two daughters. Elma and her husband Gus are the founders and owners of Basil Glass Incorporated in El Paso, Texas. Gus served in the United States Navy and is a veteran of the Vietnam War.
Summary of Interview
Elma met her husband Gus when they were in high school and they married five years later. Gus served in the Vietnam War and when he got out he was given $500.00 so he and Elma decided to start a business. At the time they lived on Basil St. and they started their business out of their home garage and so they named their company Basil Glass Incorporated. Another reason why they named their company Basil Glass instead of their last name is because they wanted to avoid as much discrimination as possible. As Hispanic entrepreneurs starting a business in the late 1960’s early 1970’s in El Paso, Texas, they received a lot of discrimination. They were given the run around on loans and would not receive a loan though they had excellent credit. They had a hard time buying glass and were sold glass at very high prices. Elma recounts that what she paid 40 years ago is what she is paying now. Elma also recalls being discriminated against because she was a woman in a male dominated business. Their growth was difficult with all the obstacles, but Elma and Gus persisted and worked hard through those barriers and their business has grown enormously. Eventually Elma and Gus were assisted by the United States Small Business Association loan. They are members of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce. They were 88, or government contractor approved, for nine years. Basil Glass is a woman-owned certified as well as minority certified business. Elma’s advice to women entrepreneurs is to fight your way in because some are still not use to seeing woman in front and the challenges you face are good because they help shape your business life.
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Rodriguez, Elma, "Interview no. 1486" (2010). Paso del Norte Entrepreneurship Oral History Project. 10.