Raul Villarreal is a problem solver. As an electrician, his biggest joy is helping people when they are stressed and offering an immediate fix, literally bringing light into their lives. “I like to be Superman for somebody.”
From the beginning, Raul always looked up to electricians as the “king of the trades”. Inspired to carve a new path, he left his job in commercial furniture installation and went to school to learn the electrical trade. There he found the success and fulfillment he was looking for: he found a job working for a large electrical company.
However, his luck changed when his employer went out of business during the 2008 economic crash. That’s when he started doing informal repairs for friends and neighbors, setting off the first sparks of his entrepreneurial journey. “I got laid off and I didn’t really have any choice but to start my own company. I’m not one of those people that just sit at home and just kind of wait for stuff to happen,” he says.
As he started his business, Raul found he couldn’t just be an electrician like he was used to; this time he had to wear the legal, accounting, tax compliance, HR and marketing hats as well. He says, “t hat was the biggest challenge and also the most fun thing about it… It’s rewarding learning so much stuff and being able to use it and then getting results.”
Despite the challenges of entrepreneurship, Raul preserved and started his very own business: Classic Electric. He built up his staff and customer base by sticking to his values. He says, “customers only really want a couple of things: do what you say you’re gonna do, do a good job and [don’t] take advantage of them.”
Next, Classic Electric faced one of their biggest challenges: The COVID-19 pandemic. While there was no shortage of electrical issues needing to be solved, clients started cancelling jobs out of fear of strangers entering their homes amidst COVID-19. In an effort to keep Classic Electric afloat, Raul opened multiple credit cards to cover bills. However, as the months went on and the pandemic did not relent, the bills became unmanageable.
Resourceful and determined as always, Raul came across Liftfund on the SBA’s website, and he reached out for help. With LiftFund, Raul was able to secure a 0% interest loan through the City of San Antonio Buy Down program, finally paying off his high interest credit cards.
“If I wouldn’t have gotten that loan, I wouldn’t be in business. Liftfund was a big blessing to my company,” Raul says.
Now that Raul has a future to power, his goal is to improve his business not in quantity, but in the quality of every aspect of his company: better contracts, better benefits for his employees, a better location for the business and continued growth with the right people by his side.
He makes an effort to make his crew feel like they are part of a family. “We’re working together. We’re a small company…every person is more important than at a big company.”