Martin Jimenez: From Temp Worker to Business Owner in Kansas City, Kansas
Our friends at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City recently introduced us to Martin Jimenez, a small business owner in Kansas City, Kansas. We loved his story so much that we had to learn more! First up, an introduction, then, an interview with Martin about his business, MJ Design & Parts:
Martin Jimenez came to the United States twenty years ago with his wife, children and his life savings of $500. He got a temp job at a machine shop and worked hard to move up. He learned how to code and run the machines and worked his way up to manager of that company. When the company closed, he made the leap to buy some of the equipment and start the business in his house. MJ Design & Parts was born. Less than a year later, he purchased a building, renovated it and is looking to buy more machines.
Congratulations on your recent opening! How is business going and what have you learned so far about being an owner versus an employee?
Thank you! Business is going pretty well. Our major focus is providing quality products, and I feel like we’ve done a good job so far.
I have been a machinist for the last 34 years and I have already learned a lot about being an owner instead of an employee. I get my hands dirty with so much more now—material costs, quotes for potential jobs and financial planning to name a few.
And as a leader, I’ve become more aware than ever that working together as a team requires a lot of time and responsibility.
What sort of manufacturing do you do at MJ Design and Parts?
We manufacture all kinds of parts according to drawing specifications. We also repair damaged parts or machines according to the samples our customers provide. We make special screws, nuts, spacers, valves and shafts, about anything you need to make complex machinery run. And to ensure that our customers receive the highest quality product, we always use top notch metals and materials so that it all works right, every time.
How has the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City played a role so far in your success?
The Hispanic Chamber has helped me find potential customers. The business after hours events are a great opportunity to advertise MJ Design & Parts. It hasn’t resulted in any new customers quite yet, but i will keep trying and understand that the relationships are still worthwhile.
I know that the chamber also does a lot of work to help business owners get necessary financing, but I don't like to take loans. I prefer to hold off on buying new machines until I’ve saved enough money and feel it is the right time to invest.
What do you appreciate about your neighborhood and why did you decide to do business where you are?
I made the decision to buy this building (1,790 square feet) at this location due to a potential customer. I also believe that being close to the downtown really helps with visibility to potential customers. It’s also a very safe area which, of course, is a great thing.
Tell me about your team. How many employees do you have and how do you make sure that you’re putting together a great team?
We are a small company, just two full-time employees and two part-time. MJ Design & Parts is a family-oriented business; teaching my son Oscar how to do programming and manual machining is really awesome and very important to me.
What are your goals for the next year and what do you see as being your biggest hurdles?
My future goals include (warning: I’m gonna get technical on you) buying a Mazak turning center CNC, by the end of June (fingers crossed!) Next year i need to buy a Mazak vertical mill or a Integrex. While you may not know what there’s are, the reason is simple enough—I want to get more customers and to do so I need to have the top CNC machinery in the market.
I also want to send my son Oscar to a programming training at the Mazak technical school in Florence, Kentucky, by the end of this year.
And looking a little bit further down the road, by 2017/18, I would like to hire a couple of full-time employees.
To be honest with you, one of my major hurdles is customers not paying on time. I provide a 30 day window, but sometimes it takes longer. It’s a common problem, and I hope everyone would support more local small businesses.
Best of Luck, Martin, and thank you for sharing.
If you, like Martin, want to start a Main Street business and need some help getting it off the ground, give us a call at 816-235-6500 or 866-870-6500.