Young Entrepreneurs: Saucedo Co. Locksmiths Featured By El Paso Newspaper

July 15--The face of business is changing in El Paso, with young entrepreneurs taking a chance and opening their own businesses or working hard to expand and modernize existing businesses.

 

Merging New, Old

Many young entrepreneurs attempt to change or improve an existing family business, which often creates generational divides.

"The definition of success has changed," said Maury Saucedo, 25, the operations manager for The Saucedo Company. "My dad is more stable, so for him, we are already successful. But for me, I don't think we are as successful as we can be yet. I want to see multiple locations in different cities. I want to see more growth."

The Saucedo Company, an El Paso locksmith company started by J. Silvano Saucedo in 1917, is a four-generation family business.

"My main goal is sustainable and smart growth," Maury Saucedo said. "What can we do that will make us bigger but at the same time sustain itself? The struggle is that I want to continue in that upward direction; where my dad sees it as we don't need to go higher, we are great where we are."

Maury Saucedo and brother David Saucedo Jr., 28, are the fourth-generation owners now.

"My dad still plays a huge role in what we do," said Maury Saucedo, who joined the company two years ago. "He is our mentor now. He steers us in the right direction. He has 40 years of experience, so he has been in the business all his life and he has another 30 years to give us."

 

The Next Generation

Cindy Ramos-Davidson, chief executive officer of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said she has seen a shift in business owners.

"The demographics of our marketplace are changing and that is reflective of the young business owner, not only in our community, but nationwide," she said. "I'm energized by these young adults because they are our future. They are the ones who are going to take our community to the next level and we have the moral obligation to give them everything we have as an old school and marry with their new school and just let them fly."

Ramos-Davidson is excited about El Paso's future and what its young entrepreneurs have to offer.

"The young entrepreneurs and business professionals in our community are an essential component of the growth and development of our city," she said. "That brain drain of our young people leaving the city is closing little by little. We are going to have to shift our thinking and get away from our old school of thought and get as energized as they are to be able to guide them to that next level."

The El Paso Hispanic Chamber offers two young entrepreneur leadership and training programs -- Empire Builders/Jovenes Empresarios and Ground Breakers.

"Once these young entrepreneurs are up and running, they are going to need more of what we call business-to-business sharing," Ramos-Davidson said of Ground Breakers. "We are finding that these younger entrepreneurs not only learn from technology, but also from each other. They want to learn what keeps them up at night, they want to learn what motivates them, they want to learn how to handle the everyday challenges of being a young entrepreneur in a market that's still growing, in a community that has economic challenges, and in a country that still is not out of hot water."

Ramos-Davidson acknowledges that many of these first-time business owners will fail.

"We don't want them to put all their eggs in one basket," she said. "We need to give them a little structure and pull them back a little bit when we think they're going to get into trouble. They will learn by failing and sometimes that's how you learn to get the right type of business, but we want them to think their plans through."

What sets these young entrepreneurs apart is their extensive use of technology and social media to get their product message out.

"This younger generation, this 20- to 25-year-old age bracket, has grown up with technology," Ramos-Davidson said. "When you look at the changing Millennials, Generation X, Generation Z, digital natives and baby boomers, you see different ways of how they go about doing business."

But what sets them apart could also hamper them.

"The challenge with these young adults is that if you do not engage them, you will lose them," Ramos-Davidson said. "They are not joiners. If you do not give them a project and let them fly, they're gone. We have such a powerhouse of intelligence, talent, creativity and innovation in our backyard, it's cool to see the things that are coming out of them."

Technology and social media have made things a tad bit easier on Ashlee Stephens and Paul Pacillas Jr., owners of Teaze boba tea shop at Sunland Park Mall.

"We have only marketed ourselves through social media," said Pacillas, who opened Teaze last June when he was 25 years old. "We have not done any paid advertising in the city. We have Instagram, Twitter, Facebook -- that's where we've done all our branding. We have about 1,200 likes on our Facebook and quite a bit of followers on Twitter and we've only been open a year."

Stephens and Pacillas also use the iPad Point of Sale application to keep track of what their customers are ordering.

"We take all our transactions through the iPad," he said. "Our whole store runs on Apple products. We actually have Apple TVs so we can stream anything from our iPad to our TVs. We use digital signage. Instead of just static display stands, we have actual video screens that scroll different menus and many other things. Without technology we would probably have a standard type of establish that wouldn't stand out. It wouldn't be young and hip or new age."

Ramos-Davidson is excited about El Paso's future and what its young entrepreneurs have to offer.

"The young entrepreneurs and business professionals in our community are an essential component of the growth and development of our city," she said. "That brain drain of our young people leaving the city is closing little by little. We are going to have to shift our thinking and get away from our old school of thought and get as energized as they are to be able to guide them to that next level."

 

Not Just Burgers

Issac Gonzales has always considered himself a risk taker -- and now joins a new breed of young entrepreneurs who are creating their own path in El Paso's business community.

Gonzales started his first business, a restaurant called Not Just Burgers on the East Side, last year when he was only 19 years old.

He invested $30,000, mostly from selling his DJ equipment, cashing in his personal savings and obtaining small loans from family, to kick start his maiden business venture.

"Once I started taking business classes in high school I knew that business was going to be my future," said Gonzales, who graduated from Mission Early College High School in 2011. "I first looked at several smaller ventures like a smoothie stand at the mall, but rent was going to be too high."

The face of business is changing in El Paso, with young entrepreneurs such as Gonzales taking a chance and opening their own businesses.

Gonzales and Derek R. Galvan, who helped the back-end of the business, opened Not Just Burgers in October 2012.

"I looked at opening a teen club, but I felt that it didn't have potential in El Paso," said Gonzales, now 20. "Finally, I thought about a restaurant with a char-broil burger theme because that's the type of burger that I love."

Gonzales sold Not Just Burgers in April and started 5-Star Catering.

"I wanted to stay in the food industry, that's what I like," he said. "I went to catering because it's more profitable.

I just had to make the best business decision to move to something that's a lot more profitable for me."

Gonzales is scheduled to graduate from the University of Texas at El Paso with a degree in business this December.

He plans to open another restaurant and expand to Odessa.

"I'm a big risk taker," he said. "I'm not scared. A lot of people were telling me how bad the food industry was. When I took the burger place, yes, it was a little bit hard to manage but it wasn't impossible."

Gonzales said he moved to catering while he finishes his bachelor's degree, which leaves him little spare time.

"As soon as I'm of school, I'm going back into a restaurant," he said.

 

Victor R. Martinez may be reached at vmartinez@elpasotimes.com; 546-6128. Follow him on Twitter @vrmart

Copyright 2013 - El Paso Times, Texas

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