Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Craig David Biography - Became Teenage MC to Herman Edwards Biography » Remedios Díaz-Oliver: 1938—: Entrepreneur Biography - Found Opportunity In United States, Success Marred By Legal Troubles, Continued To Help Others

Remedios Díaz-Oliver: 1938—: Entrepreneur - Found Opportunity In United States

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Born in Cuba on August 22, 1938, Díaz-Oliver experienced business dealings firsthand as a child. Her father owned a hotel and also distributed hotel supplies throughout Cuba. She often accompanied him on business trips to the United States and Spain. This exposure to international business would later be beneficial to her. An excellent student, Díaz-Oliver graduated from high school a year early. She matriculated at business colleges before earning a Ph.D. in education from the University of Havana. Fluent in English, French, and Italian, Díaz-Oliver's worked for Havana Business Academy and Havana Business College, which had exchange programs with U.S. business-people and close ties to the U.S. Embassy, and had plans to become a full-time educator when political upheaval sidetracked her course.

One day when she was pregnant with her first child, Díaz-Oliver and her husband, Fausto, encountered Fidel Castro, whom her father had known in the early days of the revolution. As she recalled to Paul Miller for the Dictionary of Hispanic Biography, "'Nenita (which my father used to call me) how are you?' he said. I looked at him and I said, 'Surprised you didn't keep your promises!' he didn't throw me in jail right then and there probably because I was pregnant, but I was in jail a year later." Both she and her husband were jailed nine days during the Bay of Pigs invasion, ostensibly for protesting against government imposed mail inspections. Shortly after their release, the American Red Cross assisted Remedios, Fausto, and baby Rosa, along with others, to immigrate to the United States. DíazOliver's family arrived in Florida on May 11, 1961.

Although the wages were low, the couple found work to support their family: Fausto at a yacht company; Diaz-Oliver in the accounting department of Richford Industries, a container distributor. Soon Díaz-Oliver familiarized herself with the company's products and became the company's Spanish-speaking employee who communicated with clients in Cuba and other Latin American countries. The woman who had never sold anything before coming to America proved to be an excellent merchandiser. Within a year she was in charge of the newly created International Division of a company that had never exported products before and, furthermore, had generated so many sales that the company ranked first among companies exporting containers to Central America. President Lyndon Johnson recognized her accomplishment in 1968 by awarding her the "E" Award (Excellence in Export); she was the award's first woman recipient. Combating what Miller termed "double-barrelled stereotypes," Díaz-Oliver guided the International Division's (not to the mention the United States's) expansion of market share in a region previously dominated by exporting container companies from France and Italy.

At a Glance . . .

Born on August 22, 1938, in Cuba; married Fausto Díaz-Oliver; children: Rosa and Fausto. Education: Havana Business University, MA, business administration; University of Havana, PhD, education.

Career: Richford Industries, accounting department, international sales, and vice president, 1961-76; American International Container, president, 1976-91; All American Container, founder, president, and CEO, 1991–.

Selected memberships: The Round Table, board member; Hispanic Heritage; United Way; U.S. West Inc., emeritus director; the Public Health Trust, board member; National Advisory Council of the Small Business Administration; Advisory Board Trade Policy, Negotiations and International Policy, appointed by the U.S. president in 1988, re-appointed in 1992.

Selected awards: "E" Award (Excellence in Export) by President Lyndon Johnson; Outstanding Woman of the Year, American Red Cross; Outstanding Woman of the Year, Association of Critics of Radio and Television, 1983 and 1984; Entrepreneur of the Year, Chamber of Commerce of Miami, 1986; Entrepreneur of the Year, Inter-American Businessmen's Association; Business Woman of the Year, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, 1987.

Addresses: Office—All American Containers, Inc., 9330 NW 110th Ave., Miami, FL 33178.

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