by Terence Baker | July 01, 2004

Elias Bustamante

"I worked as an antiques trader for 25 years before I put on my first trade show."

Elias Bustamante is president & CEO of Bustamante Enterprises Inc. (, an Atwater, Calif.-based event producer specializing in antique and antiquarian-book shows. The company, which puts on 10 to 15 shows a year, also sets up and breaks down a similar number of shows for third-party producers.

How long have you been in business? I produced my first antiques show in 1975.

How did you start dealing in antiques? I was recalled to the army in 1950 and posted to England. As we were not at combat, weekends were free, and I spent them buying antiques in England to sell back in the United States.

When did you start to produce shows? I worked as an antiques trader for 25 years before I put on my first trade show. I specialized in an Early American form of glass called Brilliant Cut. There is a lot of expensive glass, such as Tiffany, at these shows, and also a lot of jewelry.

How do you handle security at the shows? The company has its own security team, but security is more of an issue at the book shows, in terms of things having the potential to disappear. We see people tucking books under their arms and walking out.

Who helps run the business? Helping me are two daughters, a grandson and a son-in-law. Having family around can be an advantage, but also a disadvantage when certain decisions need to be made.