Hispanic Entrepreneurship – Executing the American Dream

Jul 28, 2020

My first direct, personal exposure to Hispanic entrepreneurship was as a college student while attending the University of Texas McCombs School of Business.  The exposure came from an apartment complex neighbor, Daniel Trevino, whose family owned a bakery in a small town in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas.  Frequently, Danny would visit home on weekends returning Sunday night with a wonderful assortment of breads & pastries to share with his poor, starving college student friends.  Daniel was an exceptional person with incredible integrity, an easy smile, and an amazing work ethic.  He was a strong credit to his parents and symbolic of my lifelong experience with the quality of the people I have met in the Hispanic entrepreneurial community as a professional, consumer, and community member.

IBA, as the oldest business brokerage firm in the Pacific Northwest, has a long history of successfully serving the Hispanic business community as a business brokerage firm professionally facilitating transactions involving the purchase and sale of Hispanic owned businesses and their associated real estate.  Our completed transactions for this community have included retail, food service, agriculture, automotive, transportation, education, manufacturing, distribution, industrial, and technology companies.   The lead business broker at IBA for serving this community is Hernan Tabares (https://www.linkedin.com/in/hernan-tabares/), a native Spanish speaker originally from Argentina who worked for Microsoft, AT&T, and Bank of Boston before joining the IBA team. To the best of my knowledge, IBA is the only firm in the region that has an experienced, knowledgeable broker on staff that can explain the sophisticated business transaction concepts of business valuation, tax allocation, and representation, warranties, and indemnification in Spanish to an individual, who although fluent in English, may think and be more comfortable talking in Spanish.

The reason IBA has a dedicated transaction team serving the Hispanic community is because it is a robust component of the regional and national economy.  One study highlighted in the following article (https://www.multichannel.com/pr-feed/hispanic-owned-businesses-an-untapped-market-growing-at-twice-the-rate-of-other-u-s-firms) estimates that there are 4.65 million Hispanic owned companies – representing 14% of the 33 million total U.S. businesses.  According to the SBA, which published an excellent report on Latino Business Ownership in 2018 (https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/Latino-Business-Ownership-Research-Paper_.pdf), approximately 2/3 of the businesses are owned by first generation immigrants from Spanish speaking nations. This is not surprising for a firm like IBA that works regularly with first generation immigrant entrepreneurs as it is a known fact that for many motivated immigrants desiring to enter the U.S. economy who do not have English as their first language, it is easier to start a business than find employment at Boeing, Amazon, Microsoft, or Nike.

These Latino owned businesses make a significant contribution to the economies of Washington, Oregon, and the United States generating over 60 billion dollars of business income annually on a national basis and creating employment opportunities for millions of Americans.

Washington with over 13% of the residents of the state classifying themselves as Hispanic ranks 13th in the United States in total Latino population.   Yakima, Franklin, and Adams counties exceed 50% of their population being Hispanic while King County, home of Seattle, has a resident Latino population of approximately a quarter million, and Pierce County, home of Tacoma, and Snohomish County, home of Everett, each approach 100,000 Hispanic residents. Oregon, a state proudly served by IBA for 45 years, has six counties, Morrow, Malheur, Hood River, Marion, Umatilla, and Jefferson, where over 20% of the population is Hispanic with a statewide population of roughly 12%.  IBA as a regional company with significant talent and bandwidth is honored to represent Hispanic entrepreneurs throughout Washington and Oregon in the sale of their mature, successful businesses.

One common element in discussion with Hispanic entrepreneurs is their appreciation for the limitless, economic opportunity offered in America for a person with an idea, the ability to execute, and a desire to work hard.  Familiar to IBA as a trusted intermediary in both the technology & Hispanic owned business spaces, but often surprising to people not active in those business communities is how technology savvy the Latino community is as entrepreneurs.  36% of Hispanic businesses earn all or most of their revenue online, compared to 18% of other small businesses. Another interesting fact about this demographic community is that nearly 40% of Hispanic businesses report that most or all of their revenues come from B2B sales.

It is also important to note, especially in our politically divided country, that the Hispanic community serves an important leadership and unifying role often electing to focus on American objectives rather than partisan issues.  A good example of this is the wonderful leadership example recently presented to the American people by Robert Unanue, the CEO of Goya Foods.  July 9, Mr. Unanue appeared at the White House in support of the White House Prosperity Initiative, an executive order to promote educational and job opportunities for Hispanics saying “The U.S. was truly blessed to have a leader like President Trump.”   This was not a statement of political endorsement, but one of respect for the office and appreciation for the economic conditions created by the President during his administration.  Trips to the White House and support of our national leadership are not new to Robert Unanue, he also visited Washington DC to stand proudly with President Obama in 2011 in joint celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month saying he was “honored & humbled” to be standing along side the President and a year later he enthusiastically supported Michelle Obama’s MiPlato initiative to improve nutrition and dietary knowledge in the Hispanic community.  I stand with Mr. Unanue in my love for this country and the desire to find a pathway to increased unity of vision and solidarity as a nation.  The following Wall Street Journal article contains an excellent neutral presentation of the story of Goya Foods and the man who has run the company since 2004.  https://www.wsj.com/articles/goyas-ceo-softly-stands-his-ground-11595008616

Mr. Unanue and his family are wonderful examples of Hispanic Americans who have executed and experienced the potential available to all entrepreneurs in this nation with the vision and ability.  Similar success stories have been told at kitchen tables filled with hijos, hijas, mamas, papas, abuelos, tios, tias, parientes, and amigos from Seattle to Miami and San Diego to New York City.  IBA is honored to serve this community as a sell side representative when, for whatever reason, ownership decides to not pass down their family business to future generations like the Unanues have done since it was started by Robert’s grandfather, Prudencio, on Duane Street in Manhattan in 1936.

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, mergers & acquisitions, and real estate communities on subjects relevant to the purchase & sale of privately held companies and family owned businesses.  IBA is recognized as one of the best business brokerage firms in the nation based on its long track record of successfully negotiating “win-win” business sale transactions in environments of full disclosure employing “best practices”.