• Volume 18 Number 2
    Spring 2009

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9.
Cruz Robledo, BS ’77
 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico  •  Profiled: Fall ’95

Nursery owner

Ready for the 30-second version of Cruz Robledo’s resume? Start the clock.

“I graduated from sixth grade at the age of 15. I got my high school equivalency degree at the age of 25. At 30, I finished my BS degree at Purdue. At 31, I was kicked out of Purdue’s master’s program — I got a B in one course and a C in the other. I thought I was a tremendous failure.”

OK, stop the clock. There is an explanation. And a happy ending, too

“I was working 70 to 80 hours a week as a professional agronomist on the Overmeyer farm near Monon (about 35 miles north of campus), and I didn’t have the time to dedicate to my master’s studies the way I should have. I was devastated.”

OK, restart the clock.Cruz Robledo

“So, at the age of 40, I started my own business in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. And by the age of 50, I had my first million dollars.”

Now 62, there isn’t the slightest hint of bragging in Robledo’s voice. He speaks only to hold himself up as an example to others, like him, whose first, second or even third reach for the golden ring may have fallen just short of the prize.

“What it all means is to never give up,” Robledo says. “All of us have potential as human beings. Who cares what happened to you in the past? Something great could be in your future if you just don’t give up.”

Robledo was born in the U.S., but lived his early years in Mexico. He returned to Texas with a big dream that was only missing a plan and a timetable.

He found he could make $50 a week in Indiana weeding mint fields and picking tomatoes and cucumbers, twice what he was making picking fruit in Texas.

Robledo saved more than $500 and settled in South Bend, Ind., learning English, taking high school courses and working for nine years at an upholstery shop and furniture store.

After two years of night courses at Indiana University South Bend, he applied at Purdue.

Now his dream was taking shape. He would earn an agricultural degree from Purdue, then go to work for a large agricultural corporation, such as DeKalb or Pioneer.

“The day I opened that letter (of acceptance to Purdue) was one of the happiest days of my life. I wanted to go work for a big business and be able to retire from there. That was my dream.”

But all of those long hours working on the farm gave Robledo enough time to reconsider his dream.

“The best experience I ever had was working on a farm as a professional agronomist. It gave me the opportunity to see the practical side of agriculture. We grew potatoes, mint, corn and beans. My experience with production and research seed companies, combined with my education, gave me the courage and professional background to come to Puerto Vallarta, knowing I could plant anything and make it grow.”

Back in Mexico, Robledo has built a company he says is just the right size.

“The volume of business I have is large enough to provide the income I want, but small enough to allow me to continue to provide the specialized services that this industry needs.”

He’s come a long way from the depths of being dismissed from postgraduate work back in 1978. Not only does he harbor no ill feelings toward the university (he sent all three of his sons to Purdue to earn degrees), he loudly sings the school’s praises.

“My Purdue degree gave me the knowledge and confidence that allowed me to gain entry into companies where I could further my agronomic experience and understanding. This degree eventually became the foundation that I used to generate and develop my own company and my own future.”