From Employee to Business Owner
Jesus Rodriguez was born in Choluteca, Honduras. At the age of 14, he began working on cars at his father’s auto body shop and by age 20 he took over the family business. In 1998, Mr. Rodriguez immigrated to the U.S. and began working at auto body shops throughout Los Angeles.
In 2002, he became certified to paint high-end cars through Sikkens, the premium brand of AkzoNobel, a leading supplier of paints and other vehicle repair products. In 2003, Mr. Rodriguez began a two-year stint painting cars for the prestigious Ferrari brand.
Since early childhood, Mr. Rodriguez dreamed of opening his own auto body shop in the U.S. Over several years, Mr. Rodriguez saved towards this goal while honing his skills. In September 2011, Mr. Rodriguez came to the South Valley BusinessSource Center, upon referral by a staff member from the Community Development Department, to explore the idea of launching his own business.
With the assistance of ICON CDC, Project Coordinator, Karen Cervantes and Business Development Consultant Francisco DeVivo, Mr. Rodriguez was able to develop a business plan, obtain needed permits and licenses and connect with the local WorkSource Center to find qualified employees. BusinessSource Center staff and consultants were also able to assist Mr. Rodriguez in securing the SBA loan that enabled him to launch his own business.
VIP Collision is a proud product of this collaboration. A full-service auto body repair and high-end auto paint shop, VIP Collision provides exemplary service to clients and is responsible for the creation of six quality new jobs in our community.
Al’s Chicken in Van Nuys Gives Back to the Community
If you ask anyone who has dined at Al’s Chicken, they will all tell you the same thing: great food, good atmosphere and nice people. Located on Van Nuys Blvd across from the Marvin Braude Constituent Center, Al’s Chicken has gained popularity and become a local hotspot since its grand opening in Spring of 2010. With delicious flame-broiled rotisserie chicken and comfort food side dishes at a fair price, Al’s Chicken has emerged as the place to be for lunch in Van Nuys.
ICON CDC staff recently sat down with Camille Mathis, who co-owns the restaurant, to learn more about their plans for expansion and philosophy of community service.
ICON CDC: Al’s Chicken has become very popular in town, what makes you different from other fast food restaurants?
Camille: I would say the fact that we’re a small business not a corporation. Being a small business, gives us the ability to have a personal connection with our community. Our size allows us to make decisions right away about our products.
ICON CDC: What would you say is Al’s Chicken business philosophy?
Camille: Our business philosophy is to provide fresh, good quality, and healthy food in Van Nuys. We also try to greet clients by their first name and really train our employees to have excellent customer service skills.
ICON CDC: What efforts would you say you have taken to empower this community?
Camille: Being a native Angeleno and knowing that there are limited opportunities for young people in Los Angeles, I try to employ and mentor local youth whenever I can. I try to teach them skills that will prepare them for the work field or help them one day open up their own business.
ICON CDC: What advice would you give a young person that is looking to opening up their own restaurant?
Camille: Do what you’ve got to do and learn what you need to learn, so that you can do what you want to do in the future.
ICON CDC: Where do you see Al’s Chicken in the future?
Camille: We would like to expand our operations by opening at least one more location in the near future and hopefully many more after that. My plan is to one day make Al’s Chicken into a franchise, and to be able to provide a financial opportunity for someone else.
ICON CDC staff is currently assisting Al’s Chicken with marketing and expansions plans.
ICON CDC Helps Eddy’s Barbershop Stay in Business and Save Money!
After years of dreaming and planning, Eddy decided to take a leap of faith and open his own barber shop. In 2010, he opened Eddy’s Barbershop, which provides fun, hip, modern haircuts for residents of Arleta, CA and surrounding communities.
In early 2011, Eddy received an unexpected visit from a Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) inspector. The inspector informed him that he needed LADBS clearance and was required to update the “Conditional Use” permit for his building to stay open. Without any knowledge of the clearance process, Eddy hired an architectural contractor to assist him and was offered an estimate of $4,500 to cover the cost of architectural plans, obtaining clearance from LADBS, and assistance with other business permits and licenses.
Concerned about the long-term impacts of such a heavy fee on his business, Eddy contacted ICON CDC staff for assistance. ICON CDC program manager Karen Cervantes assisted Eddy with research and acted as a liaison to LADBS. She followed up with City Departments on his behalf, and guided him through the LADBS clearance process. With the help of ICON staff, Eddy ended up saving over $4,000 and will no longer need to pay for contractor fees or unnecessary permits and licenses.
Eddy’s Barbershop is located at 14024 Van Nuys Blvd in Arleta, CA. It is the only barbershop located in Arleta. In addition to some of the hippest, coolest haircuts around it also features a waiting area with couches, TVs, and a pool table for it’s customers to enjoy while they wait for their haircuts.
We congratulate Eddy and wish him continued success with his business.
You can visit Eddy’s website at: www.eddysbarbershop.com
John Hernandez opened his Pacoima-based State Farm Insurance office in the summer of 2010. ICON CDC staff assisted Mr. Hernandez in obtaining SBA financing to help launch the business.
In addition to opening up his first State Farm branch in Pacoima, Mr. Hernandez is very active in several organizations that are working to serve Valley residents including the Pacoima Chamber of Commerce, Arleta Neighborhood Council, Pacoima Neighborhood Council and the LAPD Foothill Area Booster Association
ICON CDC staff thanks John for his community service and wishes him continued success!
You can visit his website here http://www.insurancehernandez.com