From his original dream of traveling the world on missions as a priest, to coming to the United States at the age of 22 and working in the horse and restaurant industries, Luis Velasquez truly understands the value of hard work. All of these experiences have helped him to discover his passion for entrepreneurship-and eventually led Velasquez to a career in roofing.
His company, Dynamic Restoration, has built a large operation serving greater Kentucky. Velasquez himself has become an invaluable resource for fellow Latino contractors who are looking to start their own roofing businesses.
Born in Cubarral, Colombia, Velasquez came to the United States more than two decades ago, living in Wisconsin, Florida, and Tennessee before finally coming to Kentucky. He worked his way up from washing dishes to opening four restaurants-one of which had a regular customer employed in the roofing industry.
Velasquez's conversations with this customer and his friends piqued his interest, and he began doing more research on the roofing industry. Velasquez then decided to take the leap and start his own roofing company. He launched Dynamic Roofing in 2008, while he was still working in the restaurant business.
"The restaurant business is very time-consuming, so I looked for other opportunities," he says.
Over three years, Velasquez built his business before eventually closing Dynamic Roofing and opening Dynamic Restoration to expand the services he offered. A huge hail storm had hit the following year, and the coincidental timing enabled Velasquez to begin learning about insurance claims and sales processes.
"Prior to 2012, our company mostly was being subcontracted by other companies. We had not been generating our own business," he says. "In 2012, we learned what it meant to knock on doors, advertise, and network to gain customers. That same year, we obtained two salesmen and had a small team of part-time telemarketers. That was our start in sales."
Overcoming Fear and Building a Legacy
Nearly 10 years later, Dynamic Restoration continues to grow.
The company offers a range of residential and commercial roofing services and is now a full-service home improvement and construction company. Dynamic Restoration currently has seven offices, 11 office staff, 13 sales representatives, and several subcontractors. Velasquez has also expanded the business into labor contracting, real estate development, and graphic design and promotions company.
In 2014, Velasquez's wife left her job to work full time with the company. She now serves as Dynamic Restoration's vice president. According to Velasquez, all of this wouldn't have been possible if he had succumbed to the typical fears people have about entrepreneurship. He says it would have been easier for him to remain a subcontractor-but learning sales and establishing a business has allowed him to make his own way.
"Sometimes our friends, family, and community will tell us, 'Stick with what you know. You're safe. You can feed your family. You can pay your rent. You can do everything,'" Velasquez says. "But if you face that fear and take it by the hand, you can do greater things. Walk hand in hand with fear, but don't quit if you are afraid."
Inspiring and Training Latino Contractors
Velasquez has brought this same spirit to his work training Latino contractors. He's launched a new business, Entrenando Latinos, to empower Latino contractors to build their own legacies. Entrenando Latinos teaches contractors about sales and provides both education and resources, helping them grow a business or transition from being an installer or subcontractor to creating their own companies.
Dynamic Restoration, a GAF Master Elite contractor, collaborated with the GAF CARE team (Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence) to conduct training in Kentucky for Latino contractors in mid-May. Six Latino-owned roofing companies participated in the training, which was led by Alan Lopez, lead CARE training manager at GAF.
Velasquez says during these training sessions, he tries to distill his key ingredients for success: discipline, perseverance, and preparation.
"Every day a company that is starting up or a company that is in training calls us and asks us the same question: 'What do we have to do to succeed?' The first thing to do is to get out of your comfort zone," he says. "We have to be disciplined, and we have to persevere. What does perseverance mean? To fight for our dreams. Maybe in the first negotiation, in the first sale, or in the first two or three sales, we're not going to do very well. But every time we start a project after having failed, we start with wisdom. We learn something."
Velasquez's sage advice comes from everything he's gone through to achieve success. Velasquez's experiences have taught him that many people who come from backgrounds similar to his can accomplish their dreams.
"Succeeding in the United States as a Latino is possible. That's what we came here for," he says. "We are intelligent, and we came here to succeed. Fear is an obstacle, but it cannot stop us."