Farah Oral History Project
Summary of Interview
Joe Gomez was born in Cayay, Puerto Rico on September 20, 1947; his father was in the military, his mother was a housewife; he has four brothers and sisters; he came to El Paso and could not speak English, told that he had to learn English or he would be dropped from school; later moved to Germany for three years, he came back to graduate from Burges High School and went to UTEP. Mr. Gomez recalls that he got a job at Firestone Tires to support his family, explains difficulty in finding a good job at the time; explains he joined the U.S. Army Reserve to avoid being drafted and sent to Vietnam; he recounts that he was recruited by Farah to work for their Dairy Company division. He recalls that his initial position was that of a product manager, eventually becoming senior product manager before leaving in 1979; describes duties to meet with merchandise managers and coordinate the creation and production of selected designs; he mentions that Farah gave an overview training on the entire production and sales process to familiarize employees with the business; he recalls a typical work day at Farah. He credits Willie Farah for the team unity of Farah, and his organization skills; describes his supervisor Bill Compton who was in charge of merchandising and sales as an excellent merchant and involved supervisor; he states that working conditions for Farah employees were excellent and people were productive; Mr. Gomez mentions not many Hispanics in management, but didn’t feel discriminated against. Mr. Gomez describes how departments were organized at Farah and the decision making process on product production; he explains the effect of technology on the orders process and design efficiency. He recalls having worked at Farah during some of its worst years; he mentions the 1975 Farah boycott and strike; he addresses allegations that Farah had sweatshop conditions as an untrue effort by union organizers; describes the Farah’s as family oriented and well respected by employees; explains why he left the company to go work for Levi Strauss and issues there; recounts Farah company wouldn’t rehire him for working with a competitor, went to work for a sewing thread company in El Paso due to Willie Farah’s help, thanks Mr. Farah for all his help in his career. Mr. Gomez concludes by explaining why he enjoyed working for Farah, especially his good relationship with the Farah family and their providing employment to immigrants.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Interview with Joe Gomez by Anais Acosta, 2010, "Interview no. 1607," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.