Hispanic Entrepreneurs Oral History Project
Summary of Interview
Basilio Silva Jr. is one of ten children, was born in a mountain village in Chihuahua, Mexico. Silva migrated with his family to El Paso, Texas to find employment. Silva was placed in a vocational class because he did not speak English. He faced racism and was called names while in high school, but turned the negative experience into drive for success. He also says his father instilled work ethic in him at a young age. He also worked with his brothers and sister to provide additional income for their family by finding odd jobs. Through a local program called Upward Bound, Silva was introduced to college. He did a work study program where he was a sales man at Montgomery Ward’s department store. Silva began at the University of Texas at El Paso being a probational student and graduated with an engineering degree. After working for construction companies, Silva bought into Vista Con, an upcoming commercial construction company. Through the help of hispanic investors, Silva was able to buy half ownership of the company and later the full company. Silva faced many challenges such as discrimination. He could not find work in the private sphere so he moved to finding business in the federal government. Silva attributes his success to employing honest people who do the work needed. He hires based on experience and does not require a college degree. He does not receive large construction contracts because he is over looked for being Hispanic, but Silva does not get discouraged. He still receives contracts on Fort Bliss, El Paso bridges, and schools. Silva constantly places bids for work and feels motivated by his wife. Silva also credits his father and the struggle he faced growing up for his success.
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Interview with Basilio Silva Jr. by Homero Galicia, 2009, "Interview no. 1537," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.