Hispanic Entrepreneurs Oral History Project
Summary of Interview
Tanny Berg, born in Israel on May 1948, is a native of El Paso who graduated from UTEP with a degree in business. His parents were Jack and Sarah Berg who operated a novelty business called Jack Berg Sales that was established since 1952 during the Korean War. The family business thrived due to its proximity to Juarez, Mexico. Berg notes that Mexico’s protectionist economy, which placed heavy tariffs on goods imported from the U.S., encouraged Mexicans to enter El Paso to buy U.S. goods that were not available in Mexico. His family spoke Spanish with their patrons, housekeeper, and friends. Berg mostly helped to run the family business as he completed his business degree and at times came into conflict with his father because they both sought to implement different business models. Overtime, they became a large supplier of electronics, especially for Hitachi. Berg owns Shalom, a real estate development and management company. His company’s projects helped to bring in various merchants into the area such as Grandy’s Chicken and Pep Boy’s; they also constructed various shopping centers in El Paso. Mr. Berg considers that one of his company’s greatest successes was purchasing a class- A property of seventeen buildings because it was the first time a local El Paso business purchased such a property. He advises future Hispanic entrepreneurs to see themselves as equals in the business market and to not be put off by family or the fear of having an accent. He hopes Mexican pride can be a stepping stone for succeeding in business because he believes the most successful entrepreneurs have cultural pride; Berg encourages Hispanics to build their own businesses and franchises and to stop being employees and to start becoming employers.
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Interview with Tanny Berg by Edmundo Valencia, 2009, "Interview no. 1515," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.