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Sueño Millonario: Guiomar Obregón, the Woman Who Mortgaged Her House for a Job

2024-01-08T14:17:40+00:00
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  • Sueño Millonario shares with you the story of Guiomar Obregón, the woman who mortgaged her house to fund the first job of her company.
  • Guiomar is one of the founders of the Georgia Hispanic Construction Association, an organization dedicated to supporting Hispanics in the construction industry.
  • Her company, Precision 2K, faced difficult times, but ultimately, it was perseverance that helped them overcome these challenges.

Guiomar Obregón, a Colombian, came to the United States to pursue her master’s degree in civil engineering. She never thought she would stay, as her plan was to return after completing her studies.

However, as events unfolded, she decided to stay, realizing there was an opportunity for her in the country. By then, she was already married to her boyfriend, who was also there.

She highlights that she already knew English, as it was a requirement for her master’s program.

Despite her proficiency, she found everyday English and colloquialisms challenging.

First Jobs

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Her first job after her master’s degree was an internship she started while studying business at a brick manufacturing company.

The company needed someone who spoke Spanish and was familiar with the Hispanic market to establish connections. She did well there.

Later, after graduating, she was hired full-time, but this wouldn’t be her only job before starting her own company.

Then, another company in the same sector hired her as a financial analyst. It was then that she and her husband, also a civil engineer, realized there was a great opportunity.

Starting the Company

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One of the most difficult parts for them was not knowing anyone. Moreover, before starting to look for projects, they wanted everything to be legally in order.

Once they were ready, her husband began submitting proposals to the government, as they were not yet well-known.

He submitted many until they received interest in one. They faced numerous barriers in this process.

They encountered a common situation for startups: the need for capital.

Seeking Capital

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When the government accepted one of their proposals, they were required to provide a type of capital guarantee to demonstrate their capacity to carry out the construction.

They searched everywhere for capital, as they couldn’t start the work and then get paid.

Guiomar recounts that when she went to the bank, they said it wasn’t possible. She explained the project was already arranged, but they refused.

In the end, they borrowed capital from family members… but it wasn’t enough. So, they both decided to mortgage their house.

Working with the Government

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Why work with the government? Lacking contacts, they saw it as a necessary decision. Though the initial approach was chaotic, it is now different.

Guiomar comments that working with the government has its advantages: there is more transparency, and things are clearer.

Their first job was with the Georgia Airport, but later they received city projects and began to grow.

Subsequently, they expanded to other cities and have now reached the federal level, working on projects like military and air bases.

Being a Latina Woman

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Being Latina was an advantage, she mentioned. At that time, Georgia had to meet diversity goals, and they were recognized as a minority and woman-owned business.

Guiomar points out an important aspect here: being a minority business might get you more visibility, but it doesn’t solve all the problems.

Having the capability and the desire to do things well undoubtedly makes a difference, but the drive to undertake quality projects should always be present.

For Guiomar, being a woman was never an impediment in the construction industry. She believes it might have been because there were few women in the field at the time, yet she never felt out of place.

Georgia Hispanic Construction Association

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One of Guiomar Obregón’s objectives was to provide Hispanics with a support network, giving them access to tools that she and her husband initially didn’t have.

This led her to co-found the Georgia Hispanic Construction Association (GHCA).

This organization is dedicated to equipping Hispanics with the necessary tools to gradually gain experience, knowledge, and a network in the construction industry.

Additionally, the association demonstrates to the government the significant number of Hispanic entrepreneurs in the construction industry who can be relied upon for quality work.

GHCA

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It’s important to note another reason for the creation of this association. A few years ago, Guiomar says, Georgia did not include Hispanics in its minority groups for projects.

This caused controversy within the community and empowered them to speak out. The GHCA fought for change, advocating for the state to reconsider and include Hispanics in their diversity goals.

They succeeded. This achievement marked a turning point, drawing contractors’ attention to the organization. Initially, it might have been to meet a requirement, but over time, this idea changed.

Today, the Hispanic community is recognized for its significant contribution and quality in construction, and the organization has been a crucial foundation for establishing this reputation.

Precision 2K

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Guiomar Obregón is the founder of Precision 2000 (P2K or Precision 2K). As mentioned earlier, the company secured its first significant project at the Georgia Airport.

After the airport project, more opportunities followed, but the company faced challenging times and had to reduce its workforce.

However, the company grew again thanks to another project at the airport, specifically a park and ride facility. Interestingly, it wasn’t used much due to the pandemic, but recently it has come into operation.

Currently, the company employs 80 people during warmer months and 60 in winter, as their work is predominantly outdoors.

Large Projects

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For large-scale projects, such as the airport, Guiomar mentions that not only her company works on these projects, although they are the general contractor, but they also hire other specialists.

She notes that this is a collaborative effort, requiring various specialties.

There have been many challenges, but one in particular she mentions is capital acquisition, as minorities often struggle to obtain bank loans.

She attributes the success of the company, besides her team, to its ability to adapt to changing circumstances, such as the pandemic, where flexibility has also been key.

Guiomar Obregón

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On a personal level, Guiomar Obregón mentions that her greatest challenge has been to fight against preconceived notions in people’s minds.

One example is the belief that Hispanic businesses are not as good as non-Hispanic ones or that all Latino companies are illegal.

Overcoming these stereotypes and earning recognition for quality and enthusiasm in delivering high-level craftsmanship has been one of the most significant challenges she has faced in her career.

Another factor, which might seem minor but she considers important, is the accent. Some people have the misconception that a person is less qualified because of their accent.

Advice from Guiomar Obregón

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To succeed, she says, the first step is to be organized. Knowing what to do first requires organization.

The second step is to seek help from those who can offer support, such as the Georgia Hispanic Construction Association, as the knowledge gained from them is invaluable.

Another key point is to help others. It’s essential to support each other along the way, remembering that every person and company has something to contribute.

Lastly, perseverance. What people see in a successful individual is just a small part of their entire journey. Continuing to move forward and work hard is always necessary for success.

Qualities for Success According to Guiomar Obregón

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Empathy is a quality that takes people far. Relying on family is also crucial.

Taking risks is sometimes necessary for progress. It can be scary, but it’s part of the journey.

In Guiomar’s case, she quit her job to dedicate herself to building her own company. She had a six-month-old baby and also mortgaged her house with her husband to invest in their company.

Though these were calculated risks, they were essential. If it were easy, everyone would do it. If she hadn’t taken risks with her partner, they wouldn’t be reaping the fruits of years of effort now.

Entrepreneurship is Not for Everyone

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It’s a controversial topic, but it’s true that not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. The path to owning a company isn’t appealing to everyone, but it’s a path that anyone can choose to take.

Guiomar mentions that if she had stayed at one of the companies where she worked, she would have had a steady salary, and there’s nothing wrong with that. She simply chose to take a different path.

To conclude, she mentions that if she had to summarize in one word what led to her success, it would be perseverance. Without perseverance, she probably would have given up along the way.

There will always be challenges, but it’s up to us to find ways to overcome them. Sueño Millonario thanks you for your attention and hopes you enjoyed the story of Guiomar Obregón. Until next time! Thank you!

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