Mr. Valle shared a great anecdote about the early days of his Tijuana-based Grupo Tersa dealership, and how one gentleman helped to pave the way for his success nearly four decades earlier.
Mr. Valle had faced several challenges in 1982 as a new tire dealer, not the least of which was the devaluation of the Mexican peso. The equipment he thought would purchase for $250,000 cost him double.
He had leased the land his new shop stood on from a friend, 10 years his senior. With money already tight, he was concerned about paying for the lease.
Mr. Valle said he soon realized he didn't have the means to pay. So he talked to the property owner.
"He said, 'Rodrigo, don't worry about it for two years. You will pay rent later, but nothing for two years.'
"It was a very good relief for me," Mr. Valle said, "knowing that the rent was not going to be a issue. If I survived those two years, it meant I was going to be able to pay the rent because if I didn't survive, even the rent I couldn't afford."
For the first three years of his business, Mr. Valle said he had a lot of faith he could be successful — but a lot of doubts as well.
He even said he might have sold the business had he received an offer.
But by 1987, the dealership was making a profit.
Mr. Valle approached his friend again about paying for the lease. He was ready and willing to begin payment.
His friend would hear none of it. "'Don't worry about it, don't worry about it,' he would tell me when I would bring it up," Mr. Valle said. "He said, 'If I don't call you, don't worry about it.'"
As the years turned into decades, Mr. Valle began to worry about it increasingly. The success of his shop meant he could well afford to pay the lease, but his friend didn't want to entertain the notion.
Twenty-five years later, Mr. Valle said his friend invited him to breakfast to discuss the lease. Neither was getting any younger, and they both wanted to settle the issue so their heirs wouldn't have to.
The talk turned from lease to ownership.
Mr. Valle and his friend wondered what the real estate was worth. They decided each would think about it, decide on a figure, then meet again five days later. How much would be fair for both parties?
It was complicated, considering the value of the property had to be considered along with 25 years of missed lease payments.
"With him not knowing and me not knowing the value ... figuring if we had put that money in the bank how much would it be worth ... his number and my number were off by just $25,000," Mr. Valle said.
So what did the friends do to settle the debt?
They flipped a coin.
The other gentleman won the toss. Cost: $650,000.
"So I paid him," Mr. Valle said, "and we shook hands. It was the best decision for both of us."
Mr. Valle said their financial relationship over the years was cemented by nothing other than a handshake.
"We trusted each other and still do," Mr. Valle said. "We have told our kids that sometimes a handshake is more valuable than any document signing. We honored each other's words, and I'm very proud we both did it that way."
One footnote: Mr. Valle invited his friend to the 25th year anniversary celebration of his company, in 2007. He surprised his friend by presenting him a statue as a token of the company's appreciation.
Said Mr. Valle: "Both of us shed tears."