FEATURE/Integrity and Tenacity Pay Off Big for Immigrant Businessman.
When Alex Uribe came to the United States 20 years ago with $20 in his pocket, he never imagined he would find such success in this country.
A tenacious 21-year-old with two profitable television repair stores in Veracruz, Mexico, he was urged by a friend to leave everything for the promise of a better life in the United States.
Today, following a long string of propitious events, Alex and his wife, Christine, own Alex Moving and Storage, a $12 million agent of North American Van Lines. They recently bought and moved into a 110,000-square-foot facility with a $2.85 million SBA loan from Bank of America. They employ 120 people, and operate more than 100 trucks on an eight-acre site in an industrial section of Santa Ana.
"Alex and entrepreneurs with his tenacity have made our country great. He has the kind of drive, determination and perseverance that you see in very successful small-business owners," said Doug Sawyer, Bank of America Small Business Executive.
"When I arrived in this country, I guess I could have gone into electronics, become a butcher, or even horse trainer given the experiences I had in my early years here," Alex said. "I really just lucked into the moving business."
During his first few years, Alex worked as a horse trainer at a ranch near Alpine, east of San Diego. After learning English, he moved on to working 20-hour days holding three jobs at once.
"My dad told me I would never amount to anything. I was out to prove him wrong," Alex said.
His first job in the moving business came from a small, family-run operation in San Diego. There, Alex found his job on the line when, after confronting the owner's son about abusing the company's gasoline policy for personal use, the two men broke into a fistfight. Thinking his fate was sealed, he handed in his resignation. Alex was surprised when the owner fired his own son, insisting he stay on.
"I was fortunate that the owner let me stay on. This was my first real stroke of luck in business. I learned the moving business at this job," Alex said.
A few years later, Alex was able to scrape together enough money to buy his first truck.
Alex slowly acquired a few more vehicles, then contracted with Corovan, a Costa Mesa moving company, to provide moving services. Alex said his small band of employees did more business than the rest of the company's employees. This is when he decided to buy the business.
In 1995, he bought the Costa Mesa building he had been leasing, but quickly ran out of space for his growing business. He leased two nearby buildings, then decided to move to a bigger location late last year.
Believing in the Uribes' integrity and will, Bank of America financed their new location.
"I couldn't have been successful without a lot of people believing in me -- from the first moving company owner who didn't fire me, to the man who helped me buy my first truck for nothing down, to Bank of America for helping me realize my dream. I've mostly just been in the right place at the right time," Alex said.
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|Date:||Jun 4, 1999|
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