In 2015, Elia Nunez and her husband, Ramon Garcia, decided to turn an expertise in asphalt into their own small business.
They invested their life savings into starting R&E Asphalt and Concrete in western North Carolina, and they were hired shortly after as subcontractors, launching their business into action. Now seven years later, they have six full-time employees and service driveways, sidewalks and much more. “There is beauty in our work, and we are very proud of how far we have come,” says Nunez.
But like any small business owner, Nunez has experienced some obstacles over the years that have presented challenges as an entrepreneur. Between a few health scares and the COVID pandemic, R&E Asphalt and Concrete experienced some hardships.
However, Nunez was able to find work for the company with a general contractor during the pandemic, and she also connected with the Western Women’s Business Center (WWBC) and Carolina Small Business Development Fund’s Digital Learning Academy to help R&E develop into what it has become.
“WWBC has served us in ways we could never imagine,” says Nunez. “WWBC introduced us to the Digital Learning Academy, where my husband and I have learned so many new skills like putting our business on Google, how to manage QuickBooks, and how to be more prepared for a pandemic.”
In addition to the technical assistance from WWBC and the Digital Learning Academy, Nunez was also a recipient of the Appalachian Community Capital grant administered by CSBDF through the WWBC. “This grant helped us with a down payment to buy a track hoe,” says Nunez. “We used to have to rent a track hoe every time we had a job that required excavating. We won’t have to turn jobs away anymore due to the high rental cost.”
For Nunez, the success of R&E Asphalt and Concrete is something that she hopes can serve as inspiration to others with dreams of entrepreneurship. “If we can do it, anyone can do it,” says Nunez. “Never think that because you don’t have a high amount of savings to invest in your business that you can’t do it. Work daily to keep your dream alive and allow it to come true. As two immigrants who came to the U.S. with nothing and no knowledge of the English language, we became successful business owners who gave back to the community that gave to us when we needed it the most.”