Hispanic Entrepreneurs Oral History Project
Summary of Interview
George R. Saenz was born and lived in south El Paso, Texas. Through a childhood of divorced, poverty, and moving around from El Paso to Juarez, Saenz found strength through his mother. He began a paper route in order to gain extra income. Saenz joined the Navy and realized that receiving a check from the VA was not enough. He enrolled at the University of Texas at El Paso and graduated with a degree in mass communications. Moving from odd job to odd job was not enough, so Saenz began a career with Farmers Insurance. After working there for five years, he did not like the limitations placed on him, so be left to begin his own company, Cielo Vista Insurance. Saenz was faced with challenges of not keeping contracts. Saenz credits hard work for the growth of his business, although he did face hard times with personal credit. Saenz found his commercial business market in an underserved market by going to car lots, apartments, and bars. Saenz also does policies other insurance companies do not want to do. He considers himself a trailblazer in the field because there were very few independently owned commercial insurance companies at this time. Saenz credits his mother’s strong work ethic for the success of his business. His mother would take the bus and walk to work and his grandmother owned a restaurant. Saenz also discussed the struggle of owning his own business. He struggles the most with organization and accounting. Saenz also hired on his son to the business. His goal is to let his son have the business once he feels it is ready. Saenz also pushes the importance of sales with his business, which is something he has tried to teach his children. Saenz says the key to success is having a drive to work and succeed. Saenz also says having product knowledge makes his company stand out. Saenz also discussed the positive change of the Hispanic community due to education. He also suggests beginning a mentorship inside of El Paso high schools to encourage career paths.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
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Interview with George R. Saenz by Homero Galicia, 2009, "Interview no. 1533," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.