2008 Hall of Fame
Frank Oropeza graduated from Indiana Tech in 1959, with a degree in electrical engineering. He is a world-class entrepreneur, devoted husband and father, and a longtime supporter of his alma mater. He spent nine years serving as a member of Indiana Tech’s Board of Trustees from 1989 to 1998. Frank and his wife, Ann, became members of the President’s Club in 1982. They are also members of the Archie Keene Society, which recognizes those who have made planned gifts to the university. In 1987, Indiana Tech awarded Oropeza an honorary doctorate of engineering.
Oropeza embodies one of Benjamin Franklin’s aphorisms, which is that “diligence is the mother of luck.” He is a strong believer in both luck and hard work.
Early in his career, Oropeza started several companies, none of which ultimately succeeded. However, from each of these experiences Oropeza learned important lessons. Then, in 1978 Oropeza spotted an opportunity in the automotive aftermarket that would prove to be his greatest career success.
He and Ann mortgaged their home to fund the new company they called Transpo, and they started manufacturing voltage regulators in their garage. Oropeza knew he could make a quality product at a competitive price, but he needed customers. He set off in his 1976 Trans Am and began making sales calls. Ann handled the day-to-day business operations. Oropeza’s business increased so rapidly that by the end of the first year he was able to move the operation out of his garage into a rented facility. Three years later, the company hit $2 million in sales and employed a staff of 30.
Like a true entrepreneur, Oropeza was constantly looking for new opportunities. In 1981, Oropeza decided to shift to thick film technology for his high-reliability circuits. This insight gave Transpo a head start on its competition, and sales increased rapidly. The next year Oropeza envisioned the need for overnight service to Transpo’s customers in the western United States and Mexico and opened a distribution center in Tucson, Ariz.
Transpo was in a position to pursue the high volume automotive voltage regulator business that had historically been sourced out to overseas firms. Success followed success. In 1996, Oropeza purchased a competitor that had operations in Germany and Singapore, making Transpo a global operation. Two years later, Oropeza bought a semiconductor facility in Northern Ireland and began a manufacturing operation in China.
In 2004, 26 years after Transpo’s meager beginnings in his garage, Oropeza sold his global enterprise. At the time, the company had 700 employees at its Orlando headquarters and an annual revenue in excess of $100 million.
Oropeza attributes his success to determination, commitment, and his philosophy of taking ownership of the task at hand. Over a 26 year period, Transpo developed more than 2,000 new products in the automotive industry. One of the things Oropeza is most proud of is that Transpo was a family corporation from beginning to end, never bringing in outside investors or partners.