La Familia Peña
Isidro Peña’s favorite quote is now a family favorite: “The door to opportunity is always labeled ‘Push’.”Opportunity for the Peñas has come from pecans, a concrete tile press and wedding dresses. All were grown with hard work, determination, faith and family.
Mr. Peña es la semilla de esta historia. As a young child, he had a vision, a plan for a better future. However, he realized early on that not only is it necessary to have goals, but he would also have to work hard to achieve them. At the tender age of six years old, in a small town in Mexico, Mr. Peña sold newspapers and oranges on the streets. He would invest his earnings on more expensive produce, which in turn would yield him an even greater profit. When he was older, Mr. Peña found his way to Las Cruces through the Bracero Temporary Workers Program. Quite ironically, at that time, he happened to be working right down the street from the future site of his current tile business. A few years later, after returning to Mexico, Mr. Peña met and married Bertha, and they would go on to have four children together. He and his wife eventually moved back to Las Cruces, and it was then that the first of three family businesses began to take fruit.
Su destino lo formo con sus propias manos. While working for Stahmann Farms he was able to lease one acre of land, where he grew and sold his own pecan trees. From this, Peña’s Pecan Nursery was born. It took several years but the pecan business eventually grew, and when success did come Mr. Peña realized as an entrepreneur, he could do so much more. He purchased a large concrete tile press from Mexico and hired a gentleman from Guadalajara to help him. Working out of a shed on Bustamante Farms, he began creating and laying each tile by hand, and Casa Mexicana Tile became business number two. In May 2008, Casa Mexicana will celebrate thirty years in business, and its warehouse is still home to the original, single concrete tile press which, in the beginning, made only 360 tiles a day.
Dicen que los hijos son un reflejo de los padres. In the Peña family, there is no doubt the children have inherited the hard working spirit they have seen in their parents. They grew up working and learning the two family businesses. Junior began working at the nursery at age ten, and then later in the tile store. Currently, he is the Vice President of operations at Casa Mexicana Tile. Jaime, on the other hand, worked with his father for twenty-five years before moving away in pursuit of his pilot’s license. Martha began keeping the books when she was fourteen years old, and fell naturally into sales, “I really wanted to grow up to be a nurse, but I was good at business and I believed in the product. That’s the number one thing. I wasn’t doing it because my father wanted me to. I loved it.” Today, she is the Office Administrator and oversees all the day to day operations along with her brother Junior.
Michael, el hijo de Martha, también ha escogido una carrera relacionada con el negocio. A business major at New Mexico State University this fall, Michael began working at the store when he was also fourteen and has learned every aspect of the business from the ground up. “I like interacting with people,” says Michael, with a proud smile, “I like sales and the challenge. It’s very exciting to me.”
El árbol de los Peña se ha extendido y este nuevo trozo de la familia ha aportado una parte vital en el éxito del negocio. Martha’s brother-in-law, Victor joined Casa Mexicana after working several years in the bookstore business. Overseeing hundreds of millions of dollars in sales was the norm for Victor and he brought stability to the tile store, which had become a little overwhelming. “I was drowning. Victor brought a lot of structure and knowledge to the company,” explained Martha.
Con el apoyo mutuo de las tres generaciones, otra rama de el árbol ha florecido, pero esta con un lado mas delicado. The idea of Bella Bridal came about when Martha had a difficult time finding the right dress for her daughter’s quinceañera. She proposed that she and her younger sister, Blanca Zamora, open a quinceañera/bridal shop. Blanca was thrilled by the idea because unlike her siblings, she knew from the start she wasn’t right for the tree or tile business. Having received her fashion merchandising degree as well as a business degree from NMSU, her life was in the fashion industry.
Aun con la experiencia de las dos hermanas, este nuevo reto era un riesgo. “Not knowing a thing about fabrics,” Martha explains, “we asked my dad to redo the warehouse next door to look like a bridal shop. He saw the opportunity and agreed to help renovate it.” Bella Bridal was opened by Martha and Blanca in March 2006. A tour of the shop reveals Blanca’s eclectic and exquisite taste. “Brides always comment on the unique styles in the shop,” says Martha, “and we keep a wide variety of prom dresses stocked.” For prom, they track every dress bought, so that no two girls wear the same gown at the same school.
Con tres negocios exigentes, el equilibrio de la vida se logra con el amor de la familia y la fe. “The number one thing for me is the people I work with,” says Martha. “I have faith in God and I base my decisions on that. In business…you’ll go through real lows and real highs, but you always need to put things in perspective. Having a business is a powerful thing, and you can’t let it get to your head, because above all, none of this matters if my children, husband and my family aren’t healthy.”
Algunas familias son como un gran árbol. The trunk supports and pushes upwards and outwards, branching towards the sun and, eventually, blossoming. Here in Las Cruces, the Peña family tree is one that has strained from the soil to bloom in satins and silks.