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Double success
Cancholas named Business Man and Woman of Year
Ocotober 18,  2003

By Karen Mracek

Jose and Carmen Canchola will celebrate  their 52nd wedding anniversary Monday, but not before being recognized today as the"Hispanic Businessman and Businesswoman of the Year."

The unexpected anniversary gift comes courtesy of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The Cancholas are being honored for their dedication to Tucson's Hispanic community, said Hilda Oropeza, who chairs the chamber's award selection committee.

The Cancholas were the first Hispanic family in the United States to own a McDonald's franchise, Oropeza said. They now own eight McDonald's restaurants - five in Tucson and three in Nogales.

The chamber will recognize the Cancholas' success at tonight's Noche de Exitos, the 9th Annual Gala of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at the Radisson Tucson City Center.

"Entrepreneurs like the Cancholas make it possible for minorities to not only dream about owning their own businesses, but to know it can be a reality," Oropeza said.

It was the qualities Jose and Carmen offer as a team that stood out to the chamber, which until this year had honored two unrelated people as Hispanic business man and woman of the year, said Fred Orozco, the Tucson Hispanic Chamber's president.

"They truly are a team," Orozco said.

Jose Canchola is chairman of the Canchola Group, the holding company for the eight McDonald franchises. He has been a member of the McDonald's Corporation Operators Advisory Board, as well as national franchise director. He and other Hispanic franchisees organized the McDonald's Hispanic Operators Association in 1977 as a national partnership with the corporation.

When the Cancholas started their first franchise, both worked in the restaurant, and it was an adjustment for the couple. "In the beginning, I didn't want to see my husband 24 hours a day," Carmen said.

She worked the night shift, closed the restaurant and did the book work, leaving the day shifts to Jose. "He has to have his power," she said, "and his own time."

Carmen Canchola attributes her business knowledge to her husband. "He was my mentor. Without him, I wouldn't have learned so much," she said.

Now Carmen Canchola runs her own company, C.F.C Enterprises, which operates three parking lots and a gas station in Nogales. She gets together with employees every few weeks to talk about their customers and how to take care of them. "The customers come first, our employees are second, and we're third," she said.

The Canchola Group was one of four Tucson companies in this year's Hispanic Business 500. This list by Hispanic Business magazine ranked the company No. 265, with 2002 revenues of $13.4 million.

But it's not all about the money for this power couple. The Cancholas have six kids and 11 grandchildren, with another one on the way.

"My greatest accomplishment was my family," Carmen Canchola said.

Their children generated the Cancholas' interest in improving educational opportunities for Hispanic children.

Jose Canchola has served on the White House Commission on Education excellence for Hispanic Americans for the past two years. Recommendations from the commission have included the need to encourage Hispanic parents to run for school boards. "We have an obligation to make sure we have equal representation," he said.

The commission also encouraged President Bush to open public schools a few nights a week to facilitate classes where parents can learn English. This "helps parents to learn the American culture and encourages them to become citizens," Jose Canchola said.

Teaching children is impor-tant to the Cancholas. Jose attributes his success to excellent mentors.

Jose's first job was picking up trash at Wrigley Field in Chicago. He grew up watching greats like Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. Now, he is a limited partner in the Arizona Diamondbacks and has a championship ring from the 2001 World Series.

As a paper boy in Tucson, he delivered newspapers to the the president of Northern Trust Bank. Now he serves on the board of directors of the Northern Trust Bank in Tucson.

"They are truly a success story," Oropeza said.

* Contact reporter Karen Mracek, at 573-4179 or at kmracek@azstarnet.com.