Carlos & Lucciola Gonzalez are true partners in every sense of the word. Married, with four children, they have spent years managing their business, C.G. Plumbing & Electric, together and still have a love and admiration for each other that is infectious. Carlos’s initial response to the question of what is his favorite part of owning his own business is to give Lucciola a hug and kiss on the cheek saying, “Being here.”
In recent years, due to the state of the economy, Carlos’s primary business of working with those rehabbing and selling homes dried up so he had to shift focus to plumbing repair. He essentially had to create an entirely new customer base. “Every day is getting a little better though,” he says optimistically. Carlos and his wife are also dedicated to helping their community. For example, Carlos works with the Community First Fund so that he can reach out to new business owners to assist them with their plumbing and electrical needs. Lucciola, who is the “numbers person,” points out that through the years her husband has also developed a “passion for this block” (on which they live). He purchased nearly a dozen properties, fixed them and sold them to families. The couple also participated in a neighborhood improvement group and Carlos worked with local landlords to improve their properties and increase tenant standards.
As a young man, Carlos was an entrepreneur who started out fixing others’ bikes, then motorcycles, then made homemade sandals, finally moving on to roofing and plumbing. He looks to share that entrepreneurial spirit with others encouraging anyone looking to start their own business to “Just do it!” Carlos shares an example of how he coached a 19-year-old on how he could make a steady income by purchasing investment properties and using the rental income to pay down the mortgages and end up with a nice profit – advice that the young man did not take, which is clearly disappointing to Carlos and his mentoring nature. Lucciola chimes in and says it’s important to have the right personality to start one’s own business, however. She says, “Dreams are good but you have to plan, prepare, sit down and figure out in black and white because later, when reality happens, you will be prepared. Dreams are like the gasoline.”
Lucciola, a 1996 ASSETS graduate (she notes that it was “the ninth ASSETS class”), says ASSETS helped a great deal with the planning for their business. “And they don’t forget,” she adds. “Every year things change, like with technology, and they take the time to explain things.” It is for this reason she especially appreciates the ongoing mentor help.
Both Carlos and Lucciola enjoy the flexibility of owning their own business. “You can decide what you do and when you do it,” says Carlos. He adds, “If you work for someone else you are limited as to how much you can accomplish.” Lucciola is grateful that because of having their own business she was able to be home to raise their children.
Carlos’s final advice for potential business owners is, “Prepare. Make a plan and prepare to listen. Keep listening because sometimes when we go out on our own we don’t listen to anybody. It’s good to listen to people with experience.”