From Dental School to Tortilla Maker?

Hispanic business

A visit to Mexico grounded Hispanic business owner Fernando Gutierrez who realized his culture and now lives his American dream

Fernando Gutierrez has never given up on his dreams, whether it was to become a dentist or business owner. And now his hard work is paying off, as evidenced by the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream award. And now he’s paying that forward, helping other Hispanic business owners realize their own dreams.

 

Hispanic business
Fernando Gutierrez left teaches kids about the business

Hispanic business owner Fernando Gutierrez is truly living the American dream—and he’s got the award to prove it. He and his company, Torti Products in

Highland, Indiana, were nominated by a team member from Accion, the leading national microfinance network in the U.S., for the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program and won.

And Gutierrez couldn’t be happier. “Brewing the American Dream was created by Jim Koch, founder of the Boston Beer Company, who faced the same small-business challenges nearly everyone else does when he began brewing beer.

In partnership with Accion, the company now offers micro-loans and real-world business advice to help small-business owners realize their dreams,” he says. “Winning this award has given me creditability as a well-established business and has led to some great media exposure.”

Overcoming Roadblocks

Of course, Gutierrez put in a lot of work to get to this point. His parents came to the U.S. from Mexico in the late 1940s and met and married in 1951. After his father served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, they moved from Carrizo Springs, Colorado, to Indiana, where Gutierrez’s father worked in a steel mill.

The second of four children, Gutierrez, who was born in 1956 in East Chicago, Indiana, has been working since he was 15, with the ultimate goal of becoming a dentist. Although he encountered some roadblocks in pursuit of that dream, he remained undaunted.

“Being Hispanic, I encountered some difficulties—but this didn’t stop me. I decided to attend dental school at the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon in Monterrey, NL Mexico, where I obtained a degree in dental surgery in 1984,” he recalls.

While in Mexico, which included practicing dentistry for two years, he came to appreciate the Mexican people and culture, improved his Spanish and learned more about his family roots.

He eventually returned to the U.S. to “contribute to the Hispanic community,” he says, and, because his Mexican dentistry degree wasn’t recognized by the state on Indiana, became a dental assistant, a career that spanned 24 years.

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