Many in the Central Valley come from humble beginnings and have had the strength, courage and perseverance to achieve success for themselves. Jesse Castillo of Los Banos is one of those people.
Castillo comes from a family who were migrant workers in Texas and later California, where he was born. He is the youngest of 11 children.
When field work slowed in the Central Valley, his family periodically migrated to Washington state to pick apples, asparagus and mint. At other times, they crossed the Coast Range to pick prunes in the San Jose area.
While in high school, Castillo worked in the fields. He became aware of the low pay and back-breaking labor needed to earn money to support his family. It was also apparent to him that years of this type of labor took a toll on a person's body. During this time, he also worked part time at a local drugstore.
In 1979, he graduated from Los Banos High School. He decided he no longer wanted to work in the fields and determined to better himself.
He applied and was hired to work at Builders Lumberyard in Los Banos where he learned about doors, windows and screens along with many other aspects of the hardware and lumberyard business. Eventually, he became the yard manager.
Marriage in 1987 was followed by a growing family over the next few years. Castillo decided to seek a job with better pay and more benefits to help provide for his family.
In 1990, a new Kmart was under construction in Los Banos. Castillo, with a résumé and application in hand, applied and was hired immediately to work at the new store.
He started out stocking shelves. Within a few months, his intelligence, work ethic and people skills were recognized by Kmart management and he was named one of three assistant store managers.
As a corporation, Kmart has gone through three difficult financial periods in recent years which necessitated the closing of stores. Each of those cuts spared the Los Banos store.
Castillo likes to think that good management has helped this store survive. He has always placed high value on customer service. He says that people have many choices of where to shop and it is imperative for him and other employees to offer the best possible service to customers.
In the past, he had the opportunity to transfer to other stores in the chain to enhance his promotion chances. Instead, he chose to stay in Los Banos and devote his energies to this store.
His hard work and skills paid off and in December of 2000, Castillo was named the manager. He plans to continue in that position until his retirement.
Much of the success that he has achieved as an adult he attributes to his father's strong work ethic. His father constantly emphasized the importance of hard work and that value was passed on to all of his children.
Jesse Castillo is proof that ability, hard work and perseverance combined with opportunity leads to success in America.