Hispanic Entrepreneurs Oral History Project
Summary of Interview
Richard Najera, president of El Paso Lone Star Homes, Inc., speaks here about his rise to success as an electrician, home builder, banker, and communications entrepreneur. In addition, he shares his memories of his youth and his experiences as a public servant. Born in 1937, Najera attended El Paso High School, graduating in 1955. After studying electrical engineering at Texas Western College (now the University of Texas at El Paso), Najera attended apprenticeship school, finishing the four-year program in just two years. But obstructions arose when he sat for his contractor’s license due to the board’s corruption and racial discrimination. Upon notification that he had failed the exam, Najera protested the results and eventually received his license; his actions helped to open the doors to many future Mexican-American applicants. As one of El Paso’s first Mexican American electricians, he, along with his cousin, began Lone Star Electric with just one truck and no credit history. Paying for everything in cash, the partners soon began building their credit and establishing a solid reputation as one of only a handful of local electrical contractor companies. In 1973, Najera and another partner founded El Paso Lone Star Homes/Electric, entering into the home-building business. Also around that time, he and several other investors began the Mission Savings and Loan. Perhaps his most ambitious venture occurred in 1975 when he and eight others applied for and received a license through the Federal Communications Commission to start up a Spanish-language television station, which ran successfully under Najera’s stewardship for over ten years. In 1987, the partners of Channel 26 sold the station for $40,000,000. As Najera’s reputation grew, he was asked to participate in several public roles. For example, he sat on El Paso’s Electrical Advisory Board for sixteen years. In addition, he served as president of the local Boy’s Club for two terms, and in 1975, Najera was elected to City Council, where he again served two terms.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
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Interview with Richard Najera by Homero Galicia, 2009, "Interview no. 1526," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.