KC Entrepreneur Joe Vazquez Recounts Journey from Losing His Job to $38M+
Being terminated from your job usually isn’t a good thing. But for Joe Vazquez, that opened a door. A big door.
“To this day, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” he says.
Joe says after five years at an accounting firm, he was let go. He says that career just wasn’t in his heart.
But that’s when he got an offer from his father-in-law to join him in building homes. But then, another dark cloud … and it poured. The housing bubble burst. That might’ve been enough gloom to push some people to move on to another pursuit. But instead, Joe saw an opportunity.
“It was just one of those things that popped through my mind,” he says. “If I'm going to start a business, why not start a business during the worst economic crisis that I've seen in my lifetime? I figured I can't do any worse. So, I went ahead and founded Vazquez Commercial Contracting.”
Even with the support from his family (because it truly is a family business), the first year was rough. Revenue was a paltry $38,000. He was $150,00 in debt.
“After about the first year, I just thought, ‘Man, did I make a big mistake? Should I go back to accounting?’ I didn't know what I was going to do.”
But Joe didn’t quit. Instead, he got help. He got an 8(a) certification and a HUBZone certification with the help of the Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Center and the U.S. Small Business Administration in Kansas City. He also says the people he met through the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce opened doors. At that point, to save his dream, he had to put his marketing and sales hat on.
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Joe pounded the pavement, which led to a project with a general contractor, which laid the groundwork for future clients. He also got a minority business certification, which helped his business land further work. In 2011, the company hit its first $1 million. In 2018, that’s grown to $38 million.
“I poured everything back into this business,” he says.
That led to an office on 3303 Gillham Road in Kansas City, Missouri. A warehouse. A mechanical division. An electrical division. And he says that strategy has primed his business for success after his time with the 8(a) program is up.
“You might ask me where I'm going to be in five years,” Joe says. “I never thought five years ago I would be where I am now. There's no way. I just think back to when I hit that first million. I thought that was the greatest thing in the world. Now we're talking $50 million plus. We're talking numbers that just blow my mind.”
Vazquez Commercial Contracting has been named one of the top businesses in Kansas City by Ingram’s and Forbes. In 2018, the company did a couple million dollars worth of HVAC work in the new Hyvee Arena.
But even with all the success, you can bet Joe hasn’t forgotten the people along the way, especially those who work for organizations that support entrepreneurs and what’s it taken for him to build his own business that’s creating jobs and helping others in Kansas City as well as in over a dozen states … and even an ocean away.
Joe says his faith and his business have given him the opportunity to support a nonprofit in Africa called Love Mercy, which builds wells, orphanages, churches and housing for those in need.
“My life was not easy; it's never been that easy,” he says. “It's a little easier now, which I love, but I came from a lot of heartache and a lot of issues. It's exciting to see where we've gone, and hopefully it can be inspirational for other people to see where I've came from: no job, not knowing what my career path was, to a $60 million construction business within 10 years—and growing.”
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