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Gus Gordon

YL: When did you move to the Yucatan and where did you move from and why did you move?

Gus: I began a business here almost 8 years ago. Prior to that I had traveled throughout Mexico, but had never been to Merida. My first visit was in 1994. I was a professor at the University of Southern Mississippi and our Study Abroad program had already set up a 3 week course here but needed a prof to accompany the students. Since I spoke Spanish, I was asked to go and jumped at the chance.

Of course, I fell in love with Merida. It is totally different from the rest of Mexico. I began to look for ways to come back. I obtained a grant with the government for 3 months during the summer of 1996. By the end of the grant, I was hooked. I was now looking for a way to make a living in Merida.

In 1999, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go into business. This was my dream and through the loyalty of my customer and the hard work of a very committed management team and employees, I was able to grow a business from scratch to 450 employees.

YL: Did you buy a house right away or rent first? Do you think you made the right decision?

Gus: I rented for a very short time. I began to look for an old home to remodel in the downtown area. Once I found one, I was able to remodel. I have since sold it and am now in the remodeling process again in Garcia Gineres.

YL: Now that you live here, how do you like it?

Gus: Any city is a package with good and bad elements associated with it. On the whole, Merida, in my opinion, has many more positive elements than negative. It is a city that has changed dramatically since I first visited. The most striking change is the growth and the traffic congestion associated with that.

In general, Yucatecans are a very friendly and warm people. This makes living here that much more pleasant.

YL: Would you ever return to your former location?

Gus: Most likely, at some point in the future, I will return to the States, but I hope to always maintain a home here.

YL: What are the most striking differences between living here vs. living where you lived before?

Gus: I don’t think we have time to cover them all! Seriously, the primary difference relates to the ease and comfort of living that most expats have become accustomed to in their home country. Often, it seems that many things that we take for granted in the States can become something of a struggle here. For example, in the States we have natural gas pipelines that continually deliver gas to homes. No such thing exists here. You run out of gas when your tank is empty and that may be in the middle of cooking a meal!

Driving turns into a real adventure.

The paperwork required for almost everything here is tedious, to say the least. Trying to do business in a culture that embraces tedious paperwork and that relies on a huge bureaucracy for permission for even the tiniest of details is very frustrating.

These negatives are certainly offset, in my opinion, by the people. As I already said, they are very friendly, warm and caring. I have found them to be very committed and loyal.

YL: What do you love about living here?

Gus: Actually, I love the people and the climate. While everyone, including me from time to time, complains about the heat, the heat is only really bad in May and June. From about October to March, the weather is actually perfect.

YL: What do you miss from your "former life"?

Gus: The ease and comfort of living.

YL: If you are working or own a business, what is it like owning and running a business here or working here?

Gus: The problems concerning paperwork and government interference in terms of requiring permission for almost everything is very frustrating. Running a business is made much harder than it needs to be as a result. But it is obviously doable.

On the positive side, I am constantly amazed at the commitment from my employees. The hurdles and burdens that they face in just getting to work are enormous. While we do provide our own transport from downtown or from outlying pueblitos, the time involved for them to get to work is normally well over an hour. If we require overtime, this means they don’t get home until very late, only to wake up early with little sleep the next day to arrive at work on time. I have enormous respect for what they go through to have a regular paycheck.

YL: Do you have to do more than one thing to make a living?

Gus: Fortunately, no.

YL: Do you work as much as you used to "back home" or are your work habits different here?

Gus: I have always been pretty much a workaholic. It is really no different here.

YL: How is the city where you live different for residents than it is for tourists?

Gus: I have lived in other tourist destinations before and it is always the same. To some extent a resident becomes gilded to the attractions that draw tourists. Tourists are here sort of wild-eyed at the ruins, the architecture, the history, etc. I was the same way when I first arrived.

YL: How is your Spanish?

Gus: I guess I would be considered fluent. However, Spanish is a second language I learned as an adult so my fluency is relative. I can always see in my employees’ faces when I have made a mistake. For example, just pronouncing an “a” when you should use an “o”, can drastically change the meaning of a word. Often these subtle pronunciation changes result in a word that is not used in polite society. I am always a source of amusement, apparently, for my employees and other native Spanish speakers. Also, Mexicans use a lot of words that have double meaning – I sometimes do that without knowing it! And they know I don’t know it which seems to make it even funnier.

YL: Is the language barrier a problem for you in your day to day life?

Gus: No.

YL: What is the one most important piece of advice you would give someone planning a move to the Yucatan?

Gus: Make sure you get the facts and understand the market before you buy or invest.

YL: Are you a Mexican citizen?

Gus: No.

YL: If you aren’t, do you think you will become one?

Gus: Possibly.

YL: Why would or wouldn’t you?

Gus: The only barrier would be if I have to give up my U. S. citizenship.

YL: How are you treated by Mexicans? Do you feel resented or welcome?

Gus: Very rarely do I sense resentment.

YL: How do you feel about the economic prospects of Mexico?

Gus: They are not as good as they should be, in my opinion. The Mexican government continues to believe it has a NAFTA monopoly when it does not. China is eating Mexico’s lunch and many factories have closed as a result. The government has not been as investor friendly as it could be.

The tourist industry remains fairly strong but could be stronger if marketed better.

For the retired expat, this may not be a bad thing as the peso will continue to devalue over time against the dollar. For the average Mexican citizen, I don’t see the picture getting brighter unfortunately.

YL: What are your plans for the future here?

Gus: No change foreseen.

YL: Do you see your business growing?

Gus: Fortunately, my business continues to grow.

YL: Do you see yourself staying?

Gus: Yes.

YL: Any last words?

I cannot overemphasize two things. First, the people are the greatest resource the Yucatan has to offer. Second, if you are considering moving or investing make sure you understand the facts and the realities before making a move.

Gus owns a maquiladora that manufactures uniforms for companies and government entities in the United States.


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21 Responses to “Gus Gordon”

  1. I did not know that we bought a house from such a famous person. Please say hello to Dona Tere for us and tell her we will see her in mid May. Gayle and Gio might be down for Easter.
    John

  2. thanks gus

  3. Gus,
    I have been searching the web for a week now on the perfect township in Mexico to buy a home to live in. I have factored in Merida. I am a single American woman in my 30′s, and I have been unable to find anything concerning crime status anywhere in Mexico. Do you have any suggestions are where to look?

    Thank you,
    Tara

  4. My partner and I are starting a business of custom embroidered gifts and such. She is coming to Playa del Carmen in Feb on a vacation. We would like to know if there are any handweavers in that area to purchase quality cotton fabric, preferably organic, but not a requirement. Can you give us any guidance as to how to find a directory of hand weavers and similar craftsmen(&women) in the area? The email address above is hers so please reply to it.

    thanks
    Kamie Duncan

  5. Hello Kamie,
    I’m with you on this question! My husband and I plan to move to Merida and I am a jewelry designer hoping to find crafts people to help with production. In addition, I hope to add a handbag line when I can get a good source (there in Merida) to work with and when I get the logistics down with my first product category. Let me know what exactly your business venture will entail and if you find the helpers you need. Maybe we will be able to work together on creating my handbag line! If interested…you can write me at claudetteelizondo [at] hotmail [dot] com
    My business site is above. Thanks!

  6. Tara

    I am not sure where to find that data. I will tell you anecodtally that Merida’s crime rate is relatively low. Many Mexicans from the north are moving here precisely for that reason.

    Gus

  7. Kamie

    I am sorry, but I can’t really help on where to go. You could check with some of the crafts stores in town and probably get some guidance from them

    Gus

  8. Please explain to me what are the most important facts to be aware of if I decide to invest in real estate in the Yucatan area. Will I need a fideicomiso also in Merida? Is it better to invest on the coast? Do you think property prices will continue to grow or stagnate? Since you said the peso will continue to devalue, will it be better to wait? Than you so much for all your time. I am an American living in France and tired of it. I want better weather and nicer people. Hope to hear from you soon.
    A bientot,
    Liana

  9. Liana, you do need a fideicomiso, even in Merida, as Merida is less than 50 miles from the coastline of Mexico. You might find more of what you want to know in our Real Estate section. Also, the Mortgages in Mexico article has been updated recently and you might want to read that.

    As for whether it is better to buy on the coast or in town, that is an age-old question that we wouldn’t begin to try to answer.

  10. Hello again, and thanks for answering. I just wanted to know if it is true if I open a company in Mexico I will not have to pay the fideicomiso fees? And is that a struggle to do? Also, it has been recommended to me to buy at the Catastral prices to pay less taxes. Is that safe to do? Or better in case of resale? And how much really is the fideicomiso? And property taxes to buy are, from what I read, between 2% and 6%. Why the difference?

    I know I have a lot of questions but I am going to Mexico in a couple of week and I will only stay there for 20 days so I need to know in advance as much as possible.

    Thanks again. By the way I love your site and found it really helpful.

    Liana

  11. Liana, peso devaluation probably won’t effect the real price of real estate much as the price of real estate is a hard commodity that will increase in peso terms as the peso devaluates. If you want to buy my opinion is that there is no need to wait.

  12. Liana, we have had so many people asking these questions… so we are working on an article about buying a house in the Yucatan. Look for it in the next few days.

  13. Liana, you can buy property in the name of a corp, but the property must be used for productive purposes not merely to hold title to a property.

  14. Hi, Liana!

    I will be more than happy to answer your questions on the buying process here in Merida – I love helping people know this great part of the country. Gus..have to disagree with you a bit about ease of living; I haven’t had to clean my own house or do the wash in seven years! My website is http://www.tierrayucatan.com.

  15. I tried to send an email to your aol account but it was sent back as a closed email account. I would like to contact you with some questions about relocating our business to Yucatan.

  16. We have sent Gus an email that you are trying to reach him, Terry. Based on past performance, we’re sure he will respond soon.

  17. Terry

    Sorry I have been traveling. you may contact me at gusagordon [at] gmail [dot] com

  18. THANKS TO WORKING GRINGOS ,GUS AND JEN FOR HELPING ME AND ANSWER SEVERAL OF MY QUESTIONS REGARDING INVESTING AND LIVING IN MERIDA. I WAS PLANNING TO GO AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR BUT BECAUSE OF WORK I HAD TO DELAY MY TRIP UNTIL THE END OF APRIL,JUST WONDERING IF YOU THINK THE PRICES ON THE HOUSES IN MERIDA WILL GO UP DURING THE YEAR OR IF I SHOULDN’T HURRY AND TAKE MY TIME SIN CE THE MARKET WILL BE STABLE??? THANKS AGAIN
    LIANA

  19. Thank you Gus for the new email…you will hear from me shortly.
    Thanks again

  20. I am a US business owner from the Philadelphia area. I found your guide on Doing Business in Mexico very helpful when I opened an office in Mexico last year. I am interested in speaking with you regarding our progress in Mexico to date and explore the possibility of hiring you to help us expand our operation in this new year.

    We provide a computer hardware maintenance service for a large national end user and we have one office located in Merida. If you could contact me by e-mail and let me know if this is something of interest to you and when I could contact you I will provide a more complete description of our operation and what I would like to accomplish going forward. If your schedule is full I completely understand. Hope to hear from you.

  21. John

    you may email me at gusagordon [at] gmail [dot] com. thanks

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