Shari Rightmer, Up Cycle Aquaponics
Shari Rightmer’s Up Cycle Aquaponics farm and show room is revolutionizing traditional farming methods by growing tasteful, pure produce using 95 % less water and 75-95% less energy. Uniquely, the produce is grown without dirt. It is grown and nourished by a symbiotic relationship between fish, air, sunlight, plants, and water. Up Cycle Aquaponics is helping to provide awareness of this innovative and highly efficient way of growing crops.
Shari’s showroom will leave you with an everlasting impression and so will her story. Click below to read the full story.
Gabriela Murguia, MercaMex Distributor, Inc
In 2014, Gabriela met Mission Community Services Corporation (MCSC) instructors Jesse and Clarita Portillo, who helped her enroll in MCSC’s Empezando Class that they taught at La Verne University in Bakersfield. Gabriela was excited to learn everything she needed to start and run her business.
By April 2014, with the support of her instructors and one-on-one counseling, she got her fictitious business name: MercaMex. She sold Mexican as a wholesale distributor and she quickly became a success. She started to generate sales of $10 thousand a month and quickly grew out of her garage where she had been running her business. By November 2014, the demand for her products was so great that she established her new business entity, MercaMex Distributor, Inc.
In December 2014 she was able to hire her first employees and able to buy two new vehicles: a van and a 26-foot truck. Her distribution route grew to the point that she was selling an average of $45 thousand dollars per month, and some months, double that!
Word quickly spread through her neighborhood that she was distributing unique products at fair prices and they all wanted to buy from her. She saw a great opportunity to establish her own retail outlet and, by late June 2015, MercaMex Distributor Inc. started to grow again and opened Dulceria Alebrijes, in Delano.
Dulceria Alebrijes quickly became the place to go for Mexican candies and party favors. By the end of January 2016, she opened the ANOTHER retail store and distribution center warehouse in Bakersfield: also called Dulceria Alebrijes. With all the success from her stores and warehouses she has now created 10 jobs, both part-time and full-time. She also closed out last year with $1.1 M in sales.
Gabriela’s message to new business owners or those thinking of opening a business: “As the years pass by, I’ve learned that the best way to be ready for life’s next adventure is to be prepared! Despite the years of experience I had of managing my family business; I realized that I still needed more. I encourage everyone to learn how to do their business plan, because without it you may have that dream in your head, but when you write it, it becomes a goal! Keep learning and practicing and you will be successful.” “Thank you Jesse and Clarita and MCSC for helping me learn what I needed to be successful.”
Gabriela & Salvador Vargas, La Perla Bakery
Gabriela and Salvador Vargas are a married couple originally from Michoacán, Mexico, who had a dream to own their own business. When they heard the owners of “Panaderia La Perla” wanted to retire, they quickly made an offer and bought the business. They saw it as an opportunity to create their own jobs and sustain their family.
Originally Gabriela invested with her brother, but soon she bought him out. Her husband Salvador then came to work full time in the business. As the business grew, Gabriela and Salvador realized they lacked knowledge about laws, loans and other aspects of running a successful small business. They said “There was very little information out there on laws for Hispanics with businesses.”
Mission Community Services Corporations (MCSC) Consultants Jesse and Clarita Portillo invited them to attend MCSC’s “Empezando Class.” It proved to be a valuable resource to create a business plan as well as introduce them to the ways the SBA can help and support Hispanics in small business. The classes and follow-up consulting provided Gabriela and Salvador with the information necessary to manage their business successfully, including new investments, increase in sales, hiring employees, and business expansion.
When asked what Gabriela learned from the class she said, “I now know how to guide myself with all the new laws, and stages of growth, and to run our business and follow all the rules and reguations. Working with MCSC has helped us learn about many aspects of running a business. I know have a clear vision of my business from employee management, laws, insurance and other basic information to run our business successfully. My consultants Jesse and Clarita have been extxremely valuable and guided us with our employee manual, and policies and procedures manual.”
Since starting with MCSC, Gabriela and Salvador have expanded to two bakery locations and a Laundry Mart and now have a total of 11 employees after starting with 4. Plus their sales have increased $400,000 annually, and their bakery continues to become more popular.
Francisco Diaz, Promociones Diaz
Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, Francisco Diaz came to California in 1997 with the dream of one day owning his own business. Francisco took that dream and moved his family to Lost Hills, California, where he worked in the pomegranate, almond, and pistachio fields to provide for his wife Cristina and their four children. But his business aspirations never left his mind.
It was during an “English as Second Language” course in Lost Hills that Francisco met MCSC instructors Jesse and Clarita Portillo, who were inspired by his leadership skills and desire to always learn more. At that time, Francisco was interested in opening his own promotion business, but didn’t know where to start. He had a little money saved, but was afraid of losing it if things didn’t go as well as he planned. However, Francisco was determined to learn everything he could to succeed in opening his own business, so he took the leap and decided to enroll himself and his wife in MCSC’s business start-up class, “Empezando” taught by the Portillos. The Empezando class helped Francisco develop a clear vision of what he really wanted to do – start a family business that also helped other families.
In 2014, with the guidance of the Portillos, Francisco acquired all of the necessary paperwork, permits and insurance, and then made an investment of $15,000 into his business. Within a few months, Promociones Diaz, a small event equipment rental company, was born.
Now, just two years later, the whole family is involved in their growing business, including Francisco’s wife Cristina and their two oldest children, as well as two additional employees. The Diaz’s credit MCSC and their consultants Jesse and Clarita Portillo for helping them launch their business. With an investment of $36,000 they now have 8 employees and Promociones Diaz is generating a steady income and providing the lifestyle and security that Francisco dreamed of so many years ago.
Robert Gonzales, Broadband Integrators
When Robert Gonzalez was 19, he was given a trial job as a cable TV installer, and his dad bought him tools for the trade. With hard work, attention to quality, and on time work, Robert was eventually hired to manage installation for a local growing cable TV/construction firm. He impressed this major Bakersfield utility cable TV provider, and years later, it is now one of his larger clients. Robert Gonzalez started and owns Broadband Integrators, a cable TV installation business located in Bakersfield CA.
Broadband Integrators, Inc. was started in 2012. The business installs cable services, underground piping, and maintenance and trunk cable replacement for installation throughout Kern County, including Bakersfield, Arvin, Taft, Shafter, Delano and Tehachapi.
Robert needed guidance with business goals and how to get there, which got him thinking about sources of capital and how to hire employees. He met with MCSC’s counselor Linda Miles who provided him with assistance for his business plan and cash flow projections. In addition, she provided guidance in getting his business Minority Certified, which benefited the business as his primary clients are utility companies.
As a result of his reputation for quality on time service, and cable TV customers having outstanding growth years, Broadband Integrators has experienced impressive growth: sales have grown rapidly and employees have doubled to keep up with the demand.
Mr. Gonzalez’s favorite aspect of his business is being outdoors, having flexible hours, and having the right people in place so he can concentrate on managing the growth. He feels his importance to the community is providing an increasing number of stable, local jobs. His advice to an entrepreneur planning to start a business is “Love what you do and know what you are doing.” In addition, he said, “Linda Miles listened to me, gave me guidance and kept me focused.”
Moises & Patty Garcia, Bakersfield Truck Tire Warehouse
With just $500 and the support of his wife, Patty, Moises started his business part-time, buying and selling new and used tires, and exporting tires to Mexico. But, after only two months, they realized that the business was booming at a surprising rate that they could not keep up with. Moises made the difficult decision to quit his full-time job and dedicate all of his time to the family business. This was a long and challenging process; reinvesting every dollar and sacrificing time with family, but they knew it would be worth it.
Moises and Patty found Mission Community Services Corporation’s (MCSC) “Empezando” Spanish business start-up class, and quickly realized that they needed to know more about entrepreneurship to take full advantage of their sudden growth.
The MCSC Empezando class showed Moises and Patty how to create a firm foundation for their business by teaching them about finances, management, employees and determining what type of business entity would be best for them. Jesse and Clarita Portillo, the instructors of the class and MCSC business consultants, showed them needed business skills and highlighted the importance of incorporating their values into the business, and treating every customer as a cherished part of their success. They now have clear vision of what they want out of their business and what it will take to get to their goals.
While they started with just two people, they now have six new employees in Bakersfield and five in Guadalajara. Their sales are up more than 40% and their next step is to expand into Texas.
Moises says that the best advice he can give to someone just starting out is, “Get informed about all the details of opening your business through a class like “Empezando,” and get advice from professionals like our MCSC consultants Jesse and Clarita Portillo. And he adds, “Never stop pursuing your dreams!”
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