The gig: As founder and president of Tower General Contractors Inc. in Sun Valley, Flores has worked on hundreds of projects in Southern California, including remodeling the Beverly Hills City Hall and building the Columbia Memorial Space Science Learning Center in Downey. Chances are you've passed a building he's built on your way to work.
Education: Flores, 52, who immigrated to the U.S. from Zacatecas, Mexico, when he was 5 wasn't planning on college until he got a scholarship from Rockwell International. Earned a bachelor's in mechanical engineering from Cal Poly Pomona.
First job: Odd jobs at construction sites (where his father worked as a concrete mason) at a very young age. At 13 or 14 he got his first official job at a Los Alamitos car wash. The pay: $1.65 an hour.
Got the calling: Having played in sand piles at construction sites since he was 7, Flores always knew that he would end up in construction. "It's a very precise business . . . and nobody knows the work that went into putting that thing up."
First steps: While working for a construction products firm, he moonlighted for a year setting up Tower with his college roommate. Decided to take a risk and quit his day job in 1985.
Biggest challenge: Changing his mind-set from engineer to businessman. "We lost money on some big projects. There were times when it was a little nerve-racking."
Turning point: Enrolled in a basic accounting class at UCLA six years ago and brought in management talent. His company has been growing rapidly ever since, with an 87% leap in revenue from 2005 to 2006. With 37 employees and numerous subcontractors, Tower is working on projects totaling more than 200,000 square feet.
Dream job: "I would love to have a full-on shop and tinker with stuff all day." He is halfway there, with a lathe, drill press and three types of welding machines in his home garage.
Recent splurge: Bought a used trainer plane for about $60,000, crashed it, and got another. Plans to buy a bigger one soon.
Advice: "Pick something you really like . . . to the point where you read about it." His idea of pleasure reading? Engineering News-Record magazine.