Hispanic Entrepreneurs Oral History Project
Summary of Interview
Fermin Dorado is the president of Dorado Engineering in El Paso, Texas, started in June 1996; before he was El Paso city engineer for 28 years; explains how he created a professional selection process that helped shift work from all anglo firms to more hispanic firms for the city of El Paso; Mr. Dorado recounts the pressure he experienced from Mayor Francis over his retirement and accusations of bribery; covers his role in getting El Paso districts restructured for more accurate community representation, his role in LULAC and legal battles with the city government. Mr. Dorado recalls growing up in Segundo Barrio and how it shaped his character; he was eighth of nine children; reasons he went to El Paso Tech High School for mechanics; discusses his siblings’ professional lives and his parents influence. He then details his work in U.S. Steel in Chicago after graduating in 1960; mentions being drafted in the Army in 1965, how it gave him leadership confidence. He then goes over attending UTEP after the military; how he became a civil engineer; mentions his relationship with his wife; recalls his hiring as an employee for the City of El Paso, explains that all the engineers with degrees at the time were anglo and that he was the first Hispanic; explains the role of city engineers and his motivation to change the selection process to better represent the city population. Mr. Dorado discloses his motivation to start his business after retiring; mentions his children and their professions; his and his son’s role in business; recalls the growth and challenges of his business; explains the civil engineer services they provide and his future plans to expand his business. He covers his business’ relationship with the city; comparisons with other engineer firms; explains importance of public relations and other key factors in making engineering firms successful; reveals his opinions on younger engineers motivations. He describes his current role in LULAC, importance of the organization; recalls his grandfather being a mentor when raising him in Mexico, and later rejoining his parents in El Paso; describes his parents and living conditions growing up. Divulges his opinion on what Hispanics should do to succeed in business; his concerns on running a business; discusses past issues with banks for investment; gives examples of poor business practices from other engineers. Mr. Dorado states that his biggest accomplishment is his family and where he learned his parenting skills; explains why he chose his business name, logo, and philosophy; describes some of his customers and his relationship with them; discusses past rewards and recognition he has received; reveals his role in helping the Border Farmworker Center get funds and their building through the city government; relationship to former El Paso County Judge Alicia Chacon. Reveals who his heroes were and why, such as former El Paso Mayor Jonathon Rogers.
Date of Interview
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Interview with Fermin Dorado by Homero Galicia, 2009, "Interview no. 1507," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.