Ivan Fernandez's long and storied career as a concert promoter has crossed genres, audience nationalities and a multitude of cities. His business colleagues offered their reflections on their work with him.
"In the beginning, we played weddings, we played everything, but regardless, we would always end up at Ivan's [clubs]. Since he closed late, we ended up playing for him, wherever he was. And all these years later, we're still with him. We used to play more for fun back then. And Ivan was a businessman. He came up with a system that was serious and more organized."
-Armando Terrazas, founder, Horoscopos de Durango
"We met when Tichenor Media [the precursor to Univision Radio] sent me to Chicago in 1984 as sales manager. Back then he had [Cardenas, Fernandez & Associates] and I sold advertising for Ivan's dances. He was a very flashy guy back then. He liked to wear things like beige suits with yellow and green ties.
"There were, like, four or five non-Mexicans like me handling Mexican music. I'm Cuban as well, and I was doing it in Houston. Yolanda Lujan, who was from Argentina, did it in Dallas.
"Ivan's aggressiveness and persistence [set him apart]. He worked endlessly to do [retakes] with the radio commercials. He went over them, heard them, changed them, heard them again, changed them again, until they were exactly the way he wanted them. He's very demanding with his radio spots, but he has a great relationship with the radio stations, which is what you need to have successful events. He's a master of diplomacy, because he gets along with the different networks.
"One time he and Henry [Cardenas] did the Pan American Festival in Miami. There were some six beer stands where we were partners, Henry, Ivan and I. So, we were checking the numbers of each stand, and they all added up, except the fifth, and biggest, one. We were short about $8,000. So Ivan tells the guy, 'Listen, we're $8,000 short.' And the guy says, 'I personally put my mom in charge of this stand. Are you saying my mom stole $8,000?' And Ivan said, 'No, of course I'm not saying your mom stole eight grand. I'm just saying that the woman who was in charge of this booth is missing $8,000.' Like I said, he was a master of diplomacy."
-Lazaro Megret, CEO, Latino Events
"He would always call me to partner with him and promote shows at the Aragon, but I wouldn't rent it to him. At the time, El Gordo Delgado and I were partners, and he was the pioneer of [presenting] Mexican music in the U.S. That's why we bought the Aragon. Other people promoted shows, but we thought that if we had the Aragon, we would be a step ahead of the competition, because we'd get calls from people like Ivan and we turned them down.
"[But] you can tell Ivan 'no,' and he'll come back and ask you the same thing. That's how we became partners. He would come to me and propose business, and I'd say 'no.' And a year later, he'd come back with the same proposal. Finally I said, 'This young man, it's not that he's good, it's that he's persistent.' He finally convinced me and we became partners. And we were partners for 10 years."
-Willie Miranda, Former partner/co-owner of the Aragon
"He's very aggressive and very insistent. I don't think there's an hour of the day or night when he won't work until he closes a deal.
"He was kidnapped in Mexico once, and they drove him around in a taxi all night long. He had no money, no cell phone. He always says he thought it was the last time he'd see the light of day. [Fernandez explains that a renegade cab driver wanted him to withdraw cash from automatic teller machines, but he couldn't remember his PIN.] The way he tells the story is so comical. He always laughs."
-Jesus Guillen, GMP Music
"I've known Ivan and done business with him for the past 25 years. He's very astute and a great businessman. He's been able to create a top-notch organization by covering all the angles, from advertising and sponsors to putting together the events, which are very well-organized. The job he does in negotiating and convincing people about what he wants to do [is impressive]. Most times he gets what he wants and that makes him unique. When he wants to produce an event, he's dogged until he gets it done. When we go to Chicago, Ivan is a great host and really goes all out. He's a great friend."
-Alfonso de Alba, President, Monterrey Artists