In this coronavirus era, in which schools have had to follow the preventive measures against…
Success stories begin where one least imagines it: And the story of Kleimer Cruz and Santy Fernández, from Bore Tech, is beyond interesting.
First scenario. 1994: A Cuban teenager arrives in Miami on a raft. Second scenario. 2019: the same Cuban, now a man, co-manages one of America’s fastest-growing privately held firms, now on the Inc. 500 list. Latin pride is felt. Kleimer Cruz, co-founder and Vice-President of Bore Tech Utilities & Maintenance, is a successful man.
When Cruz stepped on American soil, being only 13 years old, and in such risky circumstances, he was far from imagining what fate would hold in for him in the land of opportunities. Today, together with his former study and work partner who became a lifelong friend, Santy Fernández, he leads a multi-million dollar company that does business with the Federal Government.
The journey to success
From his arrival in Miami’s coast, Cruz remembers that he arrived accompanied “by relatives and people from the neighborhood. First we were picked up by a cruise ship; then, they brought us to a coast guard and from there, to Key West. That was the last day rafters were welcomed. Actually, we were the last group before they started sending people to Guantanamo.”
His father, who also came on a raft a few months before, was waiting for him here, but his mother was left behind, and they could not be reunited again until 2002. Cruz acknowledges that “when he arrived here it was very difficult” and “the change was very drastic”. However, he started school in seventh grade, “and when I was 15, I was already working part-time.”
When he turned 18, he started working at infrastructure and construction firm Mas Tec, founded by Cuban Jorge Mas Canosa, and it was there where he acquired the skills that helped him become what he is today: “I learned to drive trucks, operate machines, deal with fiber optic, install ducts, in short, to work hard.”
All that experience, along with several ups and downs in jobs and small businesses that he had later, led him to rethink what to do. And that’s where Santy, the old friend whom he never lost contact with, came in. In 2010, they created K&S Underground, which still exists, and in November 2011, they founded Bore Tech, which has grown to hold many contracts.
“We succeeded when young in independent businesses. Due to inexperience, it didn’t go well at first. The economy was not the same back then, and the uncertainty of sometimes having and sometimes not, led us to where we are today. Actually, the idea was his. He told me: ‘we are going to do what we do best: communication, pipes, rough construction. Let’s get together, we can do something good.’ And that’s what happened.”
Cruz recounts that, at the beginning, they were only three people: his father, Santy and him, but that, over the years, the family concept was maintained with the subsequent incorporation into the business of several of his relatives, both on Santy’s and his side. Adding to the family group, today the company has 67 employees, all of them with medical insurance and annual salaries ranging from 40 thousand dollars to 115 thousand.
The reason why employees do so well is because this company has grown 1,137% in the last three years. That is, it went from earning $3.6 million dollars to $12.9 million in revenues annually. The main reason? He does business with the Federal Government. From whose hand? Rafael Marrero, the most renowned expert in federal contracts.
“When we were introduced few years ago ‒ Cruz says – he told us about all he could do for us and he showed us how we could grow in an organized way. He helped us create a memorable brand. He helped us design our new website, and in a year and a half, we already had the MBE Certification, which allows us to work in the entire nation as a minority-owned company. Now we are in the last stage to get our DBE Certification.”
The author of Uncle Sam’s Secret Sauce also introduced them to the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. As a result, “we have meetings in Washington, Pennsylvania, Arizona; and these meetings are very positive because they allow us to interact with national companies.”
Marrero also helped them to implement a SMART business plan. “That includes everything: organization, accounting, security… As a small Hispanic owned company, we lived a little from hand to mouth, but he has taught us to expand, to be organized in all aspects, in order to get where we are today.”
And today they couldn’t be in a better place. It turns out that Bore Tech has made it twice to the Inc. listing of the fastest-growing private companies in the US. In 2018, it was in the top 5000, and in 2019, it is in the top 500. Obviously, they have been showered by recognition.
As the executive relates, Marrero facilitated that Senator Marco Rubio recognized these results. “The United States flag was flown over the U.S. Capitol June 1, 2019 in our honor. We received our flag and a certificate from Senator Rubio. We were recognized in Florida for helping the local community locally. That was very rewarding.”
Since Cruz’s and Fernandez’s company was certified, and is doing business with the Government, it has taken part, as a subcontractor, in four federal contracts, which “are major projects, such as, for example, the extension of Palmetto [expressway], from 88 [Avenue] to Flagler St.”
Thanks to Marrero, they have also managed to renegotiate a three-year fiber optics contract with Crown Castle, a large, publicly-traded company that manages T-Mobile and Verizon network construction projects. “We went to negotiate the new contract. We thought we could do it alone, but it didn’t work: we had to go to him. And when he came with us, we ended up sealing a better deal than we thought. He is a great negotiator.”
Currently, Bore Tech serves Miami-Dade and Broward counties. His goal for the next five years is to cover the entire state of Florida. “We are approved to do it,” says Cruz, but expansion will take place in structured and measured approach. The next step will be to expand to other states, such as Arizona, Tennessee, and North Carolina.
The 38-year-old businessman concludes that, his company, “shared in half with Santy”, is a tight unit. “It’s not about me: it’s about all of us”. Thanks to them we have been able to grow.” And as for Marrero, “it’s not just what he has done, which is plenty; it’s what he’s still doing for us. If he wouldn’t have been there, for us, we wouldn't be where we are now.”