By Jay Gonzales –
2017 FATHER OF THE YEAR HONOREE
Out of what everyone would most certainly consider a tragedy, Luis Felipe Seldner has chosen to look at the good that came from the bad.
Seldner’s mother passed away during his birth, leaving a young baby and husband to make their way in Hermosillo, Mexico, in 1947. Seldner’s father was a successful farmer, but the business forced him to make the decision to send his infant son to live with and be raised by an aunt and uncle in Nogales.
“In reality, I had two fathers and a mother and I felt very fortunate because of that,” said Seldner, now a successful businessman. Seldner is one of six named Father of the Year by the Father’s Day Council Tucson.
“I never got to live full time with my father,” Seldner said. “But I felt great love for him even though it was from a distance. Knowing that he was my father and that he was a successful farmer in Hermosillo made me very proud of him.
“My second parents were just glad that I came into their life. They had no sons and they really pampered me. I was a very fortunate fellow to have dual parents.”
Seldner, 70, has three sons of his own, who have successful careers of their own. Luis Jr. is 43, Juan Carlos is 40 and Leopoldo is 33. Today they all work side by side in businesses their dad built through the ups and downs of recessions and changing economic times.
“I love the Father of the Year title,” Seldner said a day after being notified of the honor. “I don’t know if I deserve it or not. You have to ask my sons. But I have always been very inclined toward family. They are my fortaleza, my strength. Through the ups and downs in my life, my family has always been there.”
Seldner’s primary business, The Offshore Group, is the result of a won’t-give-up attitude toward an idea he and a business partner had in the 1970s that took a couple of tries to get off the ground. The Offshore Group provides shelter services for companies, primarily manufacturers, that want to do business in Mexico. It provides shared administrative services and logistics, allowing those companies to focus on their products.
Luis Jr. has been the president of The Offshore Group for four years. Juan Carlos is president of The ILS Company, the logistics arm of The Offshore Group. And Leopoldo is in banking and oversees two finance companies that were acquired by the family.
“It keeps me close to them,” Luis Sr. said. “It keeps me in conversation with them. It keeps me close to how they move through life, how they’ve grown into being parents.”
Seldner now has seven grandkids and another on the way, due in May.
Yet it hasn’t been a total man’s world around the Seldner household for the 43 years Luis and his wife, Martha, have been parents. The couple is into their 46th year of marriage, and he has learned a lot about being a father from his wife.
“I think we’ve been a good team,” said Martha. “My dad had three girls so it was different.” Her father was “very, very soft” and probably less of the disciplinarian than Luis had to be with three boys.
“I think Luis is a person who’s very committed with a lot of discipline and very strict – but at the same time, easygoing, probably because they were three good kids.”
As busy as he was getting his businesses off the ground, Luis nonetheless did what he could to participate in his sons’ lives – going to their sporting events as much as possible, taking vacations and making sure to visit during times when the boys were at boarding schools, which Luis Sr. said, “gave them a good foundation.”
The effort seems to have rubbed off.
“They are much more involved” in their children’s lives, he said. “They don’t miss one event and are much, much more involved, the way I would have liked to have been when I look back.”
Yet he appears to have done something to appeal to all three of his sons, who each began careers elsewhere and then migrated back to the family business.
“I’m very fortunate,” Luis said. “I hope that I have always been looking after my children, always encouraging them.”