A recent Stanford study found nationwide, Latino business owners grew the most in the last decade.
In Indiana, many local initiatives help fuel that growth. FOX59’s Beairshelle Edmé met one Latino business owner who’s been a shining example of how these initiatives can make an impact.
For nearly 30 years, Camacho Janitorial has thrived– never once in the black, which owner Jesse Camacho is proud of.
His dreams of becoming an entrepreneur were spurred when he moved from Puerto Rico to New York.
“We get to New York and all I’m doing is this,” Camacho gazes above him toward the ceiling as he recalls relocated to the Bronx.
It was a fresh start for the Camacho’s, who left behind a business in Puerto Rico.
“I was the one who always went out of my way to do whatever it took to make money,” the 64-year-old said.
With 11 siblings, Camacho learned to work for the extra things he wanted.
By 12-years-old he launched a weekend grocery delivery service for his Bronx neighborhood.
“Oh usually it’s about 5, 6 bags– you had to make 2 or 3 trips!”
From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., he ran that business where he made anywhere from $30- $40 through the weekend. He then went to mop floors in 14 New York apartments.
But just as money came in, violent, deadly crime hit the Bronx in the 70s.
“I don’t want to remember those days, but it was rough,” he grimaced
His family left New York for Goshen, Indiana, which was a sister city to his hometown in Puerto Rico.
But Camacho didn’t move!
“I’d go by an empty place, and I used to say, ‘I wonder what kind of business I could put in there?'” Camacho recalled.
Eventually, Camacho moved to Indianapolis— working in roofing and later sales.
“I was bringing in $2- $3 million dollars in business for $10 an hour,” the businessman described.
When asked how he dealt with such low wages for his contribution to these companies, Camacho looked to his wife and answered, “I told her I’m learning this business, I’m learning it… I’m learning it.”
And companies noticed, some eventually tried to poach him with offers of a desk and 6-figure salary; he turned it down!
Instead in 1993, he started his own business, Camacho Janitorial.
“For the first year, it was just the three of us: me, myself, and I,” he described.
Now, it’s his 3 daughter, wife, and 150 employees across Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio.
“We’re one of the few Hispanic businesses that has been successful at what we do,” he touted.
Hispanic-owned businesses, like Camacho’s, are seeing a burst across the nation.
And the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce tells FOX59 it’s working to ensure these entrepreneurs succeed.
“Definitely the biggest challenge for Hispanic and Latino communities arriving here is the language barrier and accessing to capital, the financial aspect — where I go, where I can find some grants, funds, etc.,” explained Dolly Serrant, a leader with this Chamber’s Hispanic Business Council.
The council helps with that, and through their guidance and other Hispanic mentors, Camacho Janitorial took off.
“My customers started saying ‘The Camacho Way! You’ve got to do it the Camacho way!’ And then we got stuck with it,” he beamed!
The Camacho way reflects su abuelos– grandparents who were hardworking sugar cane and tobacco farmers. The Camacho way shines a light on su padre– father who was a relentless entrepreneur. The Camacho way mirrors si mismo– Jesse Camacho, a disciplined army veteran.
Customers noticed these same characteristics in his crews, who know their service carries a family legacy!
There’s also a woman behind the Camacho way too.
“My biggest person is my mom–She use to tell me someday, you’re going to do something big,” he teared up talking about her influence in his life. “So (my business is) something big for her.”
To get to big means remembering, “Los sueños no se cumplen, se trabajan”– Dreams aren’t fulfilled, you work for them!
“I guess I’m living my dream cause that’s what I wanted to do since from the time I was a kid just have my own business. It didn’t matter what I didn’t know when I was 12-year-old mopping the floors in the building that someday I would have a successful business doing– mopping the floor,” he said.
But life’s funny that way— the Camacho way!