In this coronavirus era, in which schools have had to follow the preventive measures against…
The renowned promotional products agency, number 1 in its industry in the US, gets ready for federal contracting, holding all the winning cards.
Sometimes a person’s professional fate is established as early as their childhood. Enrique Pérez, president of Hitex Marketing Group, is an example of this.
Son of a Spaniard “who is able to sell anything” and an Argentine who taught him “to see the world in a positive way,” Pérez was born in the United States. He spent his childhood between Los Angeles, his hometown, and Spain, where his grandfather was waiting for him “to work in the mountains,” and he also traveled extensively to Argentina and Bolivia, where he had close relatives.
Without knowing it, the founder of the internationally renowned agency laid the foundations for his future training, focused on Foreign Trade. Today, after more than 20 years at the helm of his already millionaire company, this son of immigrants intends to do business with Uncle Sam, knowing that the skills and values he learned as a child, as well as his constant travels, are key elements in his path.
“Now that I look back, I see how my business has grown with a lot of international influence, and I think it's because of all that.” And, obviously, because of his vast experience as a businessman. It turns out that Pérez, who moved from Los Angeles to Miami after graduating from Loyola Marymount University, only needed two years working at a music company, now Alliance Entertainment, to realize what he really wanted was to be an entrepreneur.
In that company, he relates, “they were looking for a young man who wanted to travel through Latin America and who would work in market development. That was perfect for a 24-year-old young man. During my second year in that position, I did extremely well: I opened a $10 million market. They really trusted me, they opened doors for me and I had the chance to see the world”, something that surely influenced the idea of starting his own business.
Hitex starting point
That is how, in 1996, at the age of 26, Pérez founded his agency in Miami.
By then, he had clients he had met on his travels, “and what I did was buying innovative electronic products for different programs they had in Latin America. Before I knew, they were asking me if I could get them promotional [products] for banks. I replied: ‘Of course.’ And that’s when I realized what an incredible business promotional products are.”
That same year, the Gold Coast Promotional Products Association contacted Pérez. “They were looking for someone like me: Latino, young and with knowledge of the industry, to join the board. They started sending me to leadership conferences, where the most remarkable minds in this industry met.” Three years later, he was the president of that association in Florida.
In 1999, the blossoming businessman was already dedicated only to that industry. “By 2001, I had a very different view about promotional items than what people in general had.” According to Pérez, Hitex Marketing does not tie its services to advertising products, but to branding, to give continuity to the brand’s message.
“For us, the message is the most valuable and important thing,” which explains the great growth they quickly began to experience. “Every year ‒he describe‒ we grew between 30 and 40%. Today we are a $10 million dollar company.” But, of course, in this story of entrepreneurship and success, things were not always easy.
At the beginning Pérez had to face several challenges: from running his business from the condominium where he lived (with his wife and newborn son) to getting ahead with truly outdated resources, since Internet was not widely spread yet: only faxes, Excel, QuickBooks.
“I remember we had our bed, a desk and the crib in our bedroom, so I had to do something.” And he did: he continued to grow, moved the business to an office, got employees (mostly graphic artists) and found the Facilis Group, a consortium that provided him with a helpful software.
“The software helped us organize ourselves, increase sales and sales team, and everything was remote. Today we have sellers in different countries (Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Spain, the Philippines, etc.)”. And they also have important clients such as Deloitte, Coca Cola, Amazon, McDonald’s, Uber, Heineken, MasterCard, Guinness, Lincoln, Ford, Toyota, Hertz and FIU, among others.
“We are doing very well in the private sector, but we’ve realized there is an incredible opportunity in the public sector for a company that can qualify for [federal] certifications and has the knowledge to provide services at this level.”
Adding the Federal Market
True to his agency’s slogan, Adding value to your brand, Pérez is ready to add more value to his company by getting federal contracts. For this he could not find a better guide than Rafael Marrero, the nation’s leading advisor in terms of government contracting within the Hispanic community.
“The first time I spoke with Rafael, I said to myself: ‘This is exactly what we are looking for and the first step to move our company into the future.’ The second time I saw him he was promoting his book (La Salsa Secreta del Tío Sam). And the way he speaks, the connections he has and the respect he inspires made me feel confident, and that is essential when you look for a partner.”
With the help of Marrero and his team, Hitex Marketing obtained the certification as Small Business in Miami-Dade, applied for the SBA 8(a) Program and Business Plan Development certifications, as well as the certification as minority-owned business. Marrero also trained the whole team and, according to Pérez, “everyone left with the same feeling I had the first time I met him: this is the future of our business.”
The big addition of the greatest customer
Besides the advice that the multi-award winning expert is giving them, Pérez assures that Marrero is also guiding them in each step towards the right path.
“We are not wasting any time, and that is very important. With his guidance, we are certain we have the resources and the right vision to proceed. We already have the expertise of the private sector, but with Rafael we will also have the certifications and the know-how to be able to work with the Government.
Recently recognized with the Partner of the year award (2019) by Facilis Group, and with the 10,000 Small Businesses scholarship from Goldman Sachs (2020), Pérez is grateful that Marrero has introduced him to other business owners who already do business at the federal level.
“Rafael has enabled me to partner with people who are already successful doing projects of this type. This experience excites us, prevents us from making mistakes and allows us to reach the goal sooner.”
A goal that will reinforce Hitex Marketing’s values and mission. Definitely, “the Government of the United States is a great customer we want to work with and to whom we will provide the highest level of service.”