I had the opportunity to sit down with veteran and Navy Federal Business Member, Dave Guerra. During our conversation, he shared his journey from a Navy diver to a business owner and how his roots influenced his work ethic and business growth.
Bridging the Gap
When Dave decided to launch his technology company in 2009, his mission was twofold. He wanted to bridge business relationships—big and small—and to bridge the gap for veterans transitioning to civilian life. He needed a company name that spoke to his mission, highlighted his Naval diving career and honored his Hispanic heritage. At the encouragement of a friend, Dave named his company Puente Technology—which is Spanish for "bridge".
“As a Hispanic minority-owned company, I thought the name was perfect,” Dave said.
Growing up in South Texas, Dave quickly learned the importance of a strong work ethic and the power of perseverance—values he attributes to his parents and culture. As the middle son among 7 siblings, his father made him responsible for all the yard work. “I remember wanting to play outside, but work needed to be done. My father showed me that if you do it wrong, you’ll have to do it again. So, I knew to always do it right the first time.” he said. “That stuck with me even during my military career. You get one shot to make a first impression.”
Dave instills these same values in his team every day, encouraging them to never cut corners and to always meet challenges head on. “One of the best opportunities to show your integrity and how your company delivers is by how you handle those hurdles. I think that speaks volumes when building relationships with customers,” Dave said.
Paying It Forward
In addition to sharing his values with his team of mostly military veterans, Dave mentors other Hispanic small business owners. He initially joined his local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to help build his own business, but later saw an opportunity to guide other small business owners looking to grow their companies. “I thought it was important to share all the things I learned along the way and see if other people can benefit from my knowledge,” he shared.
The Navy veteran attributes 80% of his business ethic to his time in the military. Guerra says he often stresses the importance of building relationships and leading by example. “There’s no such thing as ‘I’m beyond that’ or ‘that’s beneath me.’ I’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done,” he explained. “I want my team to know there’s no job beneath me. It’s a team effort and that’s how you’ll be successful.”
Dave hopes that other Hispanic small business owners will guide the next generation of owners, to keep the momentum going. After all, they all share a similar goal—to build their dream businesses and create a better life for their families, employees and themselves.
“You’re representing all the other small businesses that come after you. They’re expecting you to fail and failure is not an option. So, knock it out of the park,” Dave said. “That way it opens up the door for you and other business owners behind you.”
In reflecting on our conversation, it seemed Dave’s family values and experience as a veteran truly impacted the businessman he is today. Here’s to Dave and his team—thank you for sharing your story.
Author Bio: Amber V. Smith has been with Navy Federal since 2017 and serves as a writer for the Marketing Communications team. She helps craft messaging and communications to help members better understand and navigate their finances. She lives in Northern Virginia and spends her time exploring and at brunch.