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From Primo to the Palms, center retains excellence

From Primo to the Palms, center retains excellence

GusRojas-CoverGus Rojas follow his heart and puts his roots in Indiana

By Gus Pearcy

After 32 years of living in the United States, Gus Rojas, 59, can’t figure out why he still has an accent from his native Mexico City, but he does. It can sometimes be a challenge to understand when Gus gets excited. But there’s no doubting his enthusiasm for his venture called The Palms.

The former Primo West Banquet Center is now The Palms, purchased by a group of investors including Rich and Tom Kidwell, Dennis Stephenson, and Gus and, his wife, Maryann Rojas. The group purchased it back in 2009 and operated under Primo West until last fall. It remains a full-service banquet and conference center able to accommodate any group from 100 to 1,100.

Gus and Maryann have five children, Tony, Andi, Ali, Danny, and Mia who all have pitched in to help on events from time to time. But to Gus, all the employees are like family because they all have the same goal.

“What we want is to create fans,” Gus said. “We are in this business to make people happy. To give them what they are visualizing and more.”

Exceeding expectations is Gus’ intent whenever he gets the chance. He likes to push a little unique flair into every event. His career has included working with Hyatt hotels and Centerplate hospitality, which provides food services and concessions to hundreds of convention centers and sports stadiums around the world. Gus has managed the Horizon Center in Muncie and opened the McAllen Convention Center in Texas. He has managed prestigious events like U.S. President inaugural balls.

It’s been a charmed life that started with a leap of faith 32 years ago.

In Mexico City, Gus was an accomplished soccer player playing with a professional team while he was going to school. It was undoubtedly his passion.

After suffering an injury, he decided to join a student exchange program and was shipped to an unfamiliar Indianapolis.

“I didn’t know anything about Indianapolis except the 500 mile race,” Gus said. “I was here for six months and went to Cathedral High School.”

The experience “opened his eyes” he said, but he returned to Mexico, fully recuperated and practicing again. One day his life changed dramatically, when he got a call out of the blue from a Spanish teacher he met at Cathedral. The teacher was leading a group from Cathedral in Mexico City and wanted them to meet Gus.

“So I go to the hotel and that is where I meet my wife,” Gus said. But meeting Maryann changed the course of his life forever.

After a few months in a long-distance relationship, Gus threw all caution to the wind and came to Indiana. It was all for love.

“(If) you’re in love, you don’t think,” Gus said. “You just act. If I would’ve thought about it, I would be, ‘Wait a second. I’ve got everything right here. I’m doing great. I might be famous one day, my family who I love like crazy, my friends, my food. Why would I want to leave?’ Well, it was all for love. What a woman can do.”

Questions for HCBL Cover Story

What’s the best advice you ever received?

Never, never give up. Believe in yourself, and treat others like you want to be treated

Best business decision you ever made:

Getting into a career that I enjoy. You have to like and be passionate about what you do.

Worst advice you ever received:

Don’t listen to your mom and dad. They are from another generation; they don’t know.

In five years, I want

to be stable in all aspects of my life, be happy and make a difference in people lives.

My secret to success

God, that simply. Nothing happens without him in our lives.

Finally, can you list either five books, or five movies, or five albums that have had an influence on your life.

  1. The Champ
  2. The Godfather
  3. Schindler’s List
  4. Rocky
  5. Grease

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