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Spotlight - Alvarez Striping

image Carlos Alvarez (left) and some of the employees of Alvarez Striping.

HOUSTON - How long have you been in business together? Misty: I started working with Carlos in 2005.







Carlos, did you take over the business for your parents?
C: Yes, my dad. He started the company in the late ‘80s. He did this while working for the City of Indiana at the same time. He eventually retired for the city of Houston as an engineer.

Where did you grow up?
M: In Ohio and I moved to Texas in 2005. Ohio was beautiful in the summer, but in the winter you had to dig your car out from the snow almost every day. I definitely don’t miss that.
C: I grew up in Indiana. I left when I was kid and we moved to Houston. I grew up right across the street from the Astrodome. My parents moved down here to get away from the cold weather and because my dad wanted my brothers, sister, and I to all have opportunities to succeed.

Do you have any brothers or sisters?

M: I have one brother and one sister. My sister lives in Ohio and my brother lives in Indiana.
I have two half-brothers and a half-sister. They all own their own businesses. One of my brothers is a famous surgeon in California, the other is a famous stockbroker, and my sister owns a bunch of different businesses and lives in Alabama.

Where did you go to school?

M: I went to Marion Harding High School and then I went to San Jacinto College.
C: I graduated from Elkins High School and I went to the University of Houston. I liked college so much that I spent seven years there.

What did you do after you graduated from college?
M: I actually worked for Carlos’ mom as a certified dietary manager in a hospital.
C: I worked for Interstate Batteries as a battery engineer and then when I got tired of working in a corporate environment, I decided to take over this business.

Did y’all meet through his mom?
M: No, we actually met online.

Misty, how did you get started with the business?

M: Before I started working for his mom, he asked me to help him out on the jobsites. I’ve been out in the field and I’ve done everything that his workers do. I worked for his mom full-time and on my days off, I would work for him.

Did you really enjoy what you were doing with Carlos?

M: I did, but I had a pretty bad accident in 2004 that handicapped me so I can’t work like I used to. That’s when I took over the office manager position.

When and where did y’all get married?

M: We had a backyard wedding on August 4th, 2010.

How difficult was it to take over the company?
C: It was really difficult because my dad had let the company stop, so I had to revamp it completely, and I had to go get new customers. It’s been a struggle. It took me 10 years to get out of working from a home office. I’ve been in business for 13 years now and we have a building, trucks, trailers, equipment, and we’re growing employees. We’ve got a lot of unique clients, too.

What do you mean by unique?

C: We were asked to complete a job at the Houston Zoo and we just finished working at Amazon’s center in Houston. We’ve got a big project going right now at a chemical plant in LaPorte. The requests just keep coming in and we are very grateful for that.
M: We’ve also done some work at the Johnson Space Center. 

What did you have to do to revamp the company?

C:  I had $1,000 when I restarted this company. I had to hustle. I had to do a lot of advertising. I had to do meet and greets and I drove around every day. I had three companies that accepted me and gave me a shot and once that happened, we’ve been getting job after job. If it wasn’t for
those three, we probably wouldn’t be where we are today. 80% of our jobs are either repeat customers or referrals.Misty, how did you help in the beginning?
M: In the beginning, I was actually out on the jobsite with him. I was painting handicap signs, and helping him put down wheel stops.
C: This was after my mom stopped. My mom helped on three of my jobsites when she was in her fifties. She just kept saying, “One more job. One more job.”

What are some other challenges you’ve had to face?
When the construction industry took a downturn, I had to pick up other jobs. At one time Misty and I had three jobs. We were armed security guards, striping when we got jobs, and she worked for my mom still. We needed a bank to help us and none of them would. You either had money or you didn’t have money. Fortunately, my dad was able to lend us money when we needed it. We worked together for this company to make it.

Security guards? How was that?
C: Yeah, we were licensed guards. It was boring. This was before phones with movies so I didn’t have anything to do. We ended up laying on the conveyer belts trying to figure out what to do to stay awake.
M: I actually had a job where I was locked inside of a Randalls by myself. They told me to bring stuff to read. I think our first security job was at a JCPenny. I worked at the port, too and it was scary because it was at night. They put me in my little booth and I locked the door.

Misty, what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I answer phones and emails, and work on balancing out his accounts. It’s very hard to keep up with what he spends on the credit card because he doesn’t give me all the receipts.

How is it working together? Is there a rule for not talking about work after you are done for the day?
M: We’ve had our moments. I have that rule. At 5:00, I’m done and I switch over to being a mom. He carries his phone and answers it until 2am if he has to.
C: I always talk to her about work. I’m always on call because I can’t take a chance of losing a job because I missed a phone call.
M: We took a cruise and he actually paid the fee so he could use his phone. We have an annual trip to Colorado and the phone goes with him. As a matter fact, I can’t remember a time that he hasn’t had a phone on his hip.

What makes your business great?

C: We prefer to help families. So if someone has a family and they want to work, we’ll hire them. We’re a minority-owned business and we hire a lot of minorities. They are great workers, take pride in what they do, and they are looking for a long-term position. It’s so hard to find people with those characteristics. We like the office and shop to feel like a place where the guys can bring their wives and children. I always make sure to take care of my guys.
How old is your son?
M: He’s 7.

Tell me a little about him.
M: His name is Alex and he’s in 2nd grade. He keeps us busy and he loves Pokémon.
C: He’s always done well in school and he’s a good kid. He’s probably going to either be a lawyer, engineer, or take over this company.

Do you want him to take over the company?
M: He’s already told us he wants to grow up and be like Daddy.
C: He goes with me on jobs because it’s nice to have him and he gets to see how I work. - te

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Author Info
Tanya Erickson houstoneditor@constructionnews.net