Businessman stays true to his roots, and Fiesta’s history
April 13, 2016|By Sergio Chapa, Reporter San Antonio Business Journal
A true American success story, Fernando Reyes started life from humble beginnings in San Antonio’s South Side, but worked his way to the top and built a manufacturing company that is a Tier 1 supplier for Toyota’s automotive plant.
Reyes counts country singer George Strait and former Spurs player David Robinson among his past neighbors at the Dominion Country Club but never forgot his roots. As a past president of the Fiesta Commission, Reyes and his family are staunch supporters of the annual citywide celebration.
What do you do to celebrate Fiesta? My family takes 10 days for Fiesta. My wife and I have probably been involved with Fiesta for the last 15 years. I’m not just talking about going to Fiesta events but helping to put them on. I have served as president; right now I’m immediate past president, and I have served in every position on the board with the Fiesta Commission. My wife, Norma, was First Lady of Fiesta last year and together, as a couple, we worked hard to help the people of San Antonio. I say that Fiesta is a great way to help people while having a good time — partying with a purpose.
How does your company participate in Fiesta? Reyes Automotive Group doesn’t have a medal per se, but we do have a Reyes family medal. Employees can get half a day off for the Battle of Flower Parade if they want. It’s not mandatory. We don’t close the plant down, but because it’s so close to Good Friday, we’ve given them a choice as to which they’d rather use as their day off. They get off for the second half of the day for the parade.
What is your favorite Fiesta event that you cannot miss? To me, the best one is the Taste of New Orleans, which is at the Sunken Gardens. It’s put on by the Zulus and they have terrific food. If you have not been there, you are missing one of the best places to eat some of the best food in San Antonio during Fiesta. There’s a lot of French cuisine, a lot of fried shrimp, a lot of fried fish, wonderful funnel cakes and a tremendous variety of foods. Of course, there’s also NIOSA, and we love the parades. You can’t say you’ve been to Fiesta, if you haven’t been to any of the parades.
How many Fiesta medals do you own? I probably have 10 sashes that are covered with medals. We have medals from every organization that you can imagine here in San Antonio. They’ve become very popular. They’re a great way to advertise your business or nonprofit organization. They’re a great way to break the ice and meet people.
What was the first Fiesta medal that you ever received? Probably the first medal that I ever received was from a King Antonio when I was a kid back in the 1960s.
When did you first start collecting Fiesta medals? I started collecting them about 10 years ago when my daughter was Reina Feria Las Flores in 2004, and that’s when we started getting involved with Fiesta. … She raised $50,000 as a 16-year-old girl, and that’s what got us all motivated and started us getting involved with Fiesta — not just participating in Fiesta, but getting involved. … She was helping to raise money for scholarships, and that’s what got my attention because I’m a really strong supporter of education.
What is your favorite Fiesta medal of all time? My favorite medal has to be the one I had made for the crowning of Rey Feo when I was Rey Feo. The reason it’s important was because I was the first Rey Feo that was crowned in public. Prior to that, the Rey Feo was crowned at La Feria, which is a gala in October. We always said Rey Feo was the “People’s King,” but nobody every saw him get crowned. In 2008, we did it at Main Plaza.