ST CHARLES, Mo. — Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the contributions and achievements made by Hispanics.
To highlight their influence, 5 On Your Side is featuring those making an impact in the St. Louis area.
In this spotlight, we focus on a Puerto Rican engineer, who's been able to build his business from the ground up.
Ildefonso Gonzalez develops engineering solutions in St. Charles, yet the best project he's designed is the life he's created.
"I like to be a part of the solution of the technical problems in infrastructure," says Gonzalez.
Gonzalez came to this country with just $65 in his back pocket, but from there he's been able to build his business and expand.
Coming from Puerto Rico in 1979, Gonzalez gained his master's and doctorate once he was here.
"In 1991, it was time to start my own company," he explains.
Since then, his firm DOTec Engineering Corporation has skyrocketed.
"Our revenue is around $4 million," says Gonzalez. "I work on many projects all over the US, Canada, and Europe. I work on projects that improve engineering for the lives of people. They all have to do with infrastructure and projects that help solve the problems that we have from water, electricity, energy."
But what's priceless is the work he's been able to pass on: hiring locals and a diverse group, too.
"I got engineers from all over the world. These are people like me, they have different parents and have humble reasons to be here in America," Gonzalez adds.
Now, he's paying it forward.
"I'm trying to really make a difference right here in town, create jobs right here in town. To me, this is a way to give back to this community that has been so welcoming to me with open arms. I feel really proud of my heritage, yet the most important thing for me as an American is to make a difference in the community."