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Succeeding in Lawrence, the City of Immigrants, is a double source of pride for brothers Amiel Vargas and Ramón Quezada Vargas, owners of Labor On Site company, whose headquarters are located in that town in Massachusetts (MA).
More than 40 years ago, their grandmother arrived in that place with “her whole family” and, today, after a lot of work and effort, her grandchildren have no words to express how grateful they are to have achieved the American dream.
About their origins
Amiel, who serves as President and CEO of the company, was born in the United States, while Ramón, Director of Business Development, was born in Santo Domingo, but met with the family, in the US, at the young age of eight years. Both are Dominicans and Hispanic, and they are proud of their roots and the place where success has led them.
Amiel: This is an absolute dream. Our grandmother worked at factories in Lawrence, where immigrants from Ireland and Italy arrived, first, and then, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. I am where I am because of that, because of my education and because of the work effort. And we know that we have not reached the end: we have yet a lot to conquer.
Ramón: Seeing what all my family went through and seeing where we are today… I have no words to say how grateful we are. Our parents left their homeland, taking a great risk, for us to get where we are, and that makes me feel extremely proud. I am 100% sure that’s where the best in us comes from.
And of course that’s the way it is. It turns out that his human resources and staffing company is projecting, some $ 10 million in annual revenues for this year. According to Ramón, that figure “represents a growth of 45% over the previous year,” when they made about $ 6.5 million.
“We are at a stage where we have no growth limits,” states the executive, who says that, for next year, they plan to be on the Inc. 5000 list. Goals and dreams apart, we must also say that, on the road to business success, these Hispanic entrepreneurs had to overcome various obstacles.
Ramón, for example, had to abandon his International Business studies to support his family and give his daughter a better future. That’s the reason why, in 2001, he created a staffing agency in MA, which would end up giving him important experiences for the future.
In 2006, he bought a gas station in Sunrise, moved out to Miami and he convinced Amiel to do so as well. They decided to create sort of a branch of their MA agency in sunny Miami, thus launching Labor On Site, with Amiel as President, who is a graduate of Management Studies from Cambridge College.
In the end, they connected Massachusetts to Florida and that is why they now have offices in both states, although the parent company continues to be located in Lawrence, "one of the most important places in the nation" and the place that would host their entire immigrant family.
Ramón: Those were very difficult times due to the economic collapse in 2008. Actually, the situation was tough, but we survived. Unlike Miami, Lawrence is 6 square miles, and we know everyone. We were used to something smaller, more connected. It was a change that I have no words to explain, but everything happens for a reason.
Amiel: We were going through different stages. When Ramón had to get to work, I stayed studying and working. I worked for UPS, which partially paid for my studies, then I went to study at Cambridge College, where I also worked as recruiter. [Meanwhile], Ramón launched and started his own business.
Ramón: That second company we created was an extension of the first. All the experiences and relationships we acquired throughout the process, helped us get to this point.
And also, of course, the advice and support “of a trustworthy person who has become part of our family.”
The role of Rafael Marrero & Company
In 2014, during an event in Fort Lauderdale, Amiel met Rafael Marrero, a renowned businessman and national advisor on federal contracting matters. Then, after researching what this consultant could do for their company, he and Ramón decided to contact him.
Amiel: At that time, we said to ourselves: “With his help, we can obtain the [federal] certifications and take advantage of the resources that the Government offers us as a minority-owned company.”
Ramón: Actually, we liked everything he offered us: how to organize, how to receive certifications. He came to MA and we did a boot camp training for the entire team. He helped us to enroll in organizations, introduced us to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, he introduced us to marketing material, he changed our image, he taught us that other [federal] language, and we also learned to collaborate with him.
Today, Labor On Site has the HUBZone Certification in its two locations, the 8 (a), which favors economically disadvantaged companies, and they are working to obtain the DBE, granted by the Department of Transportation.
Thanks to Marrero, the company also has the SBA All Small Mentor-Protégé Program Certification, which has allowed them to work alongside Aulsun Companies, a service-disabled, veteran-owned company with which they have established a strategic partnership.
Ramón: The most important thing we have learned with Marrero is the importance of strategic alliances, and that you have to team with and work with different companies. Your mindset can’t be that you will always work alone, because there are things we do not know about working with the Government. It is a strategic partnership where two companies offer different things, but they come together for the common benefit. That other company was certified as a Veteran-owned business. Then, by joining them, we can make the most of it.
With the help of Marrero, Labor On site is also making its way in the facilities maintenance and janitorial services sector. “We are focusing on the janitorial services niche area to provide cleaning services to the courts and government buildings. Here, in Massachusetts, it is quite simple to get workers, so we can double our business while we have happy employees, who earn a lot of money.”
Amiel: The truth is that Rafael has provided us with excellent service and he has been hand in hand with us from day one. We reached a level where we needed someone knowledgeable to help us navigate these waters. He has brought us a new perspective, he has opened our eyes, he has pointed at the opportunities we have on the table and he is helping us penetrate the federal market, which is not easy.
Ramón: In short, Marrero is teaching us how to have a plan. We were growing, but we didn’t have a specific vision of where we wanted to go. Now we can say that we have an experienced colleague. We have him in our team and we know he will lead us to the next level.