Marlon Mejía loves and is very passionate about business. He is an entrepreneur by nature. He has opened liquor stores, supermarkets, restaurants, and, more recently, a construction company.
He’s a native of Honduras, where he studied administrative informatics. But he wanted more; his thirst for knowledge was not easily quenched. So, 20 years ago, he decided to emigrate to the United States.
“I came with an eagerness to grow, to continue studying and preparing myself. Of course, I kept growing and searching and opening doors to be able to grow more and more.”
His dream in the US was to continue growing in the informatics industry and, hopefully, find a circuit maker job. But fate had prepared something different for him.
“I like to study, I like to prepare, I love business”
Curiously, he found electrician jobs. It was a little out of what he had planned, but he wasn’t going to waste the opportunity. And so, little by little, he got into the construction industry. He started finding odd jobs here and there: remodeling bathrooms and kitchens, doing different types of repairs and construction in general.
Marlon knew well that construction was a very feasible industry with great potential. So he decided to make it his new path.
“Construction is always a constant.”
But he came from the world of computers and coding. How would he make the transition?
Learning, of course. Marlon loves to research, learn more, and educate himself. He very well knows that studying is the fast lane to success.
“Anyone who opens doors by studying will never find a closed door. They will find that there are no problems, only solutions in this life.”
So he started researching as much as possible. He learned about electricity, plumbing, roofing, installations… a bit of everything. He became an expert on as many construction topics as he could. His clients noticed that and started hiring him more and more until, eventually, Marlon was able to open his own construction business.
“My company is Mejía Construction, and I’ve been at it for several years. I’ve been working in construction for about eighteen years.”
He even has general contractor and city inspector licenses, in addition to various certificates, such as plumbing and electrical.
“I keep getting more certificates.”
“There are no problems, only solutions in this life”
Marlon knows well the intricate challenges that the construction industry entails. He also knows that to overcome them and be successful, you must be creative and truly understand the industry. That’s why he’s not just what he calls “an administrative businessman.” Instead, he is always on-site building, fixing, and working.
“I work too. I climb roofs, I do walls, I do plumbing, I do electricity. I do all of that.”
This allows him to have a clearer vision of how his business (and the industry) works if there are any areas of opportunity, and what processes can be upgraded. With all of this, he can better prepare himself to better face the competition.
“Definitely, in these times of stiff competition, you can do two things: lower your margins or find a way to differentiate your product and service. And that is definitely what I’m doing.”
To differentiate his services, Marlon decided to combine his knowledge of construction and administrative informatics.
After many nights of working late, he managed to create a quotation software that allows clients to:
- Visualize all costs easily.
- Choose different kinds of materials to adjust the final price to their needs and budget.
- Use honesty and transparency as his business card.
“I’ve been trying to find a way to build more trust.”
He knows that trust is crucial for getting new clients, so he works hard to showcase his honesty so that people decide to invest in him.
“A business doesn’t run itself”
Another fundamental truth (in any industry) is that in order to have a strong business and satisfy customers, you need cash. It takes money to make money.
Marlon is aware that to have a successful construction company, he needs capital to buy material, pay employees, rent machinery, or an office, pay insurance… In short, a business involves many, many expenses.
“You have to have a good amount of money to stay afloat.”
And that’s not it. If you want to grow, you need to make investments.
It can be challenging to run a business, nurture it, and help it grow. But it is not something impossible, far from it. Fortunately, businesses are not alone: they can seek help in the form of loans.
Marlon knew this very well, and when he needed to buy machinery, he decided a loan was the way to go. The problem is that most lenders don’t accept ITIN. Finding an ITIN-friendly lender in the US is as easy as finding a needle in a haystack.
“Many [financial] institutions have closed their doors to us. That is one of the greatest difficulties that stop you from growing”
Luckily, 3 years ago, he found Camino Financial, a lender that specializes in helping Latin American business owners in the United States.
Camino Financial approved his loan, and he was able to start growing Mejía Construcción. And so began a business relationship that Marlon knew he could take advantage of at any time in the future.
“I the type of person who likes others to grow too”
Marlon seeks more than success just for him. He also seeks it for everyone around him. Of course, that includes his employees.
One of his priorities is always to pay salaries on time and help his workers grow professionally. This is where his background as a teacher comes into play.
Yes, in addition to all the different businesses he has opened, he has also been a teacher! He is definitely a jack of all trades.
Marlon knows that you open your doors by learning and studying. And he helps his employees open them up by encouraging them to grow, improve, and learn more.
“I’ve told my employees: I don’t want you to stagnate, I want you to grow. If you are learning how to cut wood, then you will be the one installing the wood. Don’t just stay a cutter; become a builder. “
He has already trained many of his boys and taught them the trade, and he keeps them up to date with all the rules and codes they have to know.
But what’s even more important when managing his staff is sticking to his motto of always being honest, for both good and bad news. And that’s exactly what he did during the pandemic.
“With the pandemic, everything became more difficult”
Before the pandemic began, Mejía Construction had 14 employees and two large projects in its future.
But like everything else, coronavirus affected Marlon’s company.
“Once the closings started, it was all when everything started to get challenging.”
He watched with horror how many businesses around him began to let their employees go: they could no longer pay them. But Marlon didn’t want to do that. He had a commitment to his employees, so he did everything in his power to keep them for as much as possible.
Then the government announced the PPP, exactly what he needed: help with paychecks. Unfortunately, he couldn’t apply for the program with an ITIN.
But Marlon knew there was a lender that would help him. He contacted Camino Financial again and applied for his second loan. Once he was approved, he kept paying his workers for as long as possible.
His mission was clear to support his employees during these tough times. They all appreciated the enormous effort he was making, but they also understood the situation. And since Marlon was always honest with them, they were also very comprehensive.
“They told me: Look, if you tell us to stay home for a couple of days or that we should alternate weeks, we’ll understand”
Unfortunately, COVID-19 affected the economy more than many anticipated, and jobs became scarce. In the end, he had to let several people go. He was left with only 8 workers.
“Only God knows why he does things.”
But not even that stops Marlon’s fighting spirit.
“Never look back, always forward”
Marlon is no stranger to all the challenges a business owner can encounter, and he is willing to face them head-on.
Because challenges are just opportunities to become stronger and more resilient. All the problems he has encountered are only opportunities to learn and choose a better path.
Marlon is more than ready for the future: he has huge plans for Mejía Construction.
“I want to grow. I want to be bigger.”
For example, now, his business can only build up to three floors, but he wants to get more permits that will skyrocket the growth of Mejía Construcción. His dream is to make bigger buildings and have more employees.
“I’ve always thought big for everything. Let me tell you that I’ve always dreamt big and will always continue to be a dream big.”
Did Marlon’s story inspire you? Are you ready to start your own business, too? Keep reading: