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EFE News Service
Puerto Rican Businessman Pits "Passion" Against Obstacles
By Sonia Osorio
17 December 2004
Miami, Dec 17 (EFE).- Puerto Rican businessman Frank Otero says it is passion for his work that helped him overcome obstacles and stumbling blocks on his way to creating one of the top Hispanic consulting firms in the United States.
Otero is the founder and president of Paco Group, which is based in New York and Miami and oversees billions of dollars in transportation and infrastructure projects in New Jersey, Washington, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Louisiana, Texas and North and South Carolina.
"I suggest that young businessmen begin with something they like, that they feel passion for; without passion you cannot handle disappointments and go forward with a project. My work is my passion and the legacy I want to leave," said Otero from his elegant Miami office.
His passion has helped smooth the road to success since he resigned from his position in a big Manhattan financial firm to make a foray into the consulting services market in 1989.
"I began learning how to sell services and I got my first project with AT&T for six months, but before that period was up (the company) decided to cancel it," says Otero, who has degrees in business administration and computer science.
That was the first time he faced what he calls one of "the hardest times for me," but he never regretted quitting the financial firm because years later he created a company "through which I give opportunities and jobs to a lot of people."
Another obstacle he overcame was his company's two-month closure after the 1993 World Trade Center attack, when "we almost lost the business because we had no access to anything."
Eight years later, Otero did lose all the firm's documents, including tax records and contracts, in the terrorist attacks on the twin towers.
"I lost everything, even the awards the company had received. If we hadn't had an office here in Miami on September the 11th, we wouldn't have been able to survive. It took us a year to recover a large part of the information and we still haven't finished," he said.
Paco Group, with annual earnings of close to $7.5 million, manages a portfolio of projects that includes Puerto Rico's $2.3-billion urban train, set to begin operating in 2005, and phase I of New York's Second Avenue subway, expected to cost $13 billion.
In Miami, where Otero decided to set up his headquarters, the group is working on the new $1 billion American Airlines terminal at the international airport.
Paco Group provides consulting services mostly to government agencies on costs and plan changes and supervises the daily activities of the projects.
It also provides methodology during the design and construction phases to track and document all modifications to the projects.
Some of the systems developed by Otero's company include a cost-estimating program, another to analyze risk and one to track certified purchases.
It also owns the intellectual property rights for the CCS system developed by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (LACMTA).
The Federal Transportation Administration has endorsed the CCS, created to control the growing cost of investments in LACMTA projects, and recommends its use in publicly-funded projects.
The system is developed through Paco Technologies, Inc., and more than $1 million has been invested in it "because we believe that this will be the future of the company."