Paso del Norte Entrepreneurship Oral History Project
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Adam Nieto was born in El Paso, Texas in 1944. Adam had 13 siblings and he is the fourth child of Adam and Carmen Nieto. Adam is a veteran of the Vietnam War. Adam attended Jefferson High School, Burleson School, Clardy Elementary School in El Paso, Texas and is a graduate of The University of Texas at El Paso. He has been a member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in El Paso, Texas. Adam served in the United States Army and is a veteran of the Vietnam War. He is a successful business man who currently owns Native Contractors, a business headquartered in Dallas, Texas.
Summary of Interview
From the age of 12 until he was 15 years old, Adam Nieto worked a paper route to earn extra money for his family. After high school, Adam left El Paso for Los Angeles for two years to work, however in 1965, the draft system caught up with Adam and at the age of 21, he was drafted by the United States Army into the Vietnam War. In 1967, after his time in the military, Adam enrolled at The University of Texas at El Paso and spent four years working on his B.A. in Education. Adam was able to use his G.I. bill to fund school and in addition he worked full time at Fort Bliss with computers. Upon graduating in 1971, Adam spent a year working as a teacher. During this one year of teaching, at the age of 27, Adam purchased a home in El Paso. That same year, Adam married Judy, a woman he met while attending UTEP. After spending one year as a teacher, Adam decided to work in real estate with Albert Haddad and Norman Haddad and the builder George Thomas. He spent 6 years in real estate before moving to Amarillo in 1978 with his wife to help out on his wife’s parent’s farm. By this time, Adam and his wife Judy had two children. In Amarillo, Adam grew cattle feed on a farm called Windy Acres Farm. The last ten years on that farm, Adam began to market kochia seeds to other farmers as feed for cattle. This business grew because the kochia can be easily grown in desert like climates and the kochia plant is fattens cows up. At the time of the interview, Adam was still selling kochia seeds. At one point he even worked with Texas A&M and The University of Texas at El Paso to extract the oil from the seed to study the properties of the oil. Adam had to work with the USDA in order to have the seeds shipped out of country. After fifteen years in Amarillo, Adam and his wife Judy divorced and Judy moved to Dallas with children and Adam moved back to El Paso. His seed business continued and he began teaching at Bel-Air High school in 1994. He taught for a little over four years before leaving the profession to begin his business, Native Landscaping. In 1999 Adam began Native Landscaping and his only contract for the first four years was Fort Bliss. Eventually the business began to expand and in 2004 Adam’s sons came on to work. The services of the company expanded as well and so the name of the company changed to Native Contractors. Native Contractors is in fourteen permanent locations and his two sons and ex-wife all work to help run Native Contractors. Although Adam only spent on two years in the United States Army, he accredits his time he spent in the Vietnam War for his strong work ethic. Also, Adam wanted more out of life than what he had growing up, but for Adam, his success came from concentrating on the work and the quality of the service being provided rather than the dollar signs. Treating his employees fairly, firmly, paying them good wages and rewarding with bonuses helped his company flourish.
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Interview with Adam Nieto by Kristine Navarro-McElhaney, 2010, "Interview no. 1477," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.