MOUNT AIRY -- Alicia and Gabriel Torres confused to Mount Airy from a babyish boondocks abreast San Luis Potosi, Mexico, in 1986. They were attractive for assignment in the tobacco fields.
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They batten no English, and by 1988 had begin jobs at Spencer's Inc. Breed and Children's Wear, area they formed for nine years authoritative babyish blankets. They deposited money into a accumulation account, alone spending abundant for food, appoint and added basal needs.
The brace were authoritative abundant to get by, Alicia Torres said, but capital added for their growing family. They eventually would accept four children, and capital a abode and a bigger car, she said.
So, in 1997, Gabriel Torres abdicate Spencer's to buy his own business.
With the $10,000 they had saved, he bought a barn business from a man in Mount Airy and assassin one helper.
He and his abettor did aggregate -- sales, accomplishment and installation. A few months later, Alicia additionally abdicate Spencer's. They alleged the business Eagle Carports Inc. and put about all the profits aback into the business to accomplish it grow, hiring added bodies and accretion into altered states.
Slowly, the tiny business they ran out of a adaptable home in Mount Airy began to booty off.
"I anticipate aback he started working, he never chock-full working," Alicia Torres said of her husband. "Even admitting sometimes he would accept a little bit of problems, he never stopped. We went forward. That has to do with success. You will never say no. You aloof go forward."
Last month, the Torreses did article they never dreamed they would. They bought the baby-blue, brick Spencer's architecture aloof off U.S. 52 area they had both formed and saved. They accept affairs to accessible their eighth accomplishment bulb abutting year central the abandoned bolt plant. According to the tax brand on the deed, they paid $700,000 for the property.
Spencer's pulled out of Mount Airy aftermost bounce as four added bolt plants were additionally closing. Altogether, 1,000 bodies were larboard after a job. Spencer's was a acquaintance business amorphous in the 1940s and already was the better employer in town, with as abounding as 1,000 employees. But in 2006, it began to advertise its inventory, and this year, it abdicate authoritative breed and children's clothes all together.
"Most of the association actuality are absolute blessed to see article activity into this vacant, abandoned building," Mayor Jack Loftis said.
For the Torreses, it's a dream appear true.
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"I asked my husband, ‘When we were alive so adamantine and authoritative a little bit of money aloof to live, did you anytime anticipate you would be the owners of this building?SSRq" Alicia Torres said. "I never anticipation we would.… It's a acceptable feeling."
They eventually confused the business from Mount Airy beyond the accompaniment band to Cana, Va., off a active amplitude of U.S. 52. There was already a single-wide adaptable home on the property, which they bought from addition barn dealer, Torres said.
Five years ago, the brace became U.S. citizens.
About three years ago, they congenital a two-floor appointment architecture in Cana. Admitting the brace had started with the money they had adored and again acclimated profits to expand, this time they adopted money from a bank, Torres said. They accept additionally adopted money to aggrandize to added states.
Today, Eagle Carports is a multimillion-dollar business with six added accomplishment plants in California, New Mexico, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.
The aggregation expects to accomplish an antecedent advance of $300,000 to $500,000 in the 132,000-square-foot Spencer's architecture as it adds accessories and accomplish improvements.
Eagle Carports is headquartered in the appointment architecture in Cana, area about 50 advisers assignment in the appointment and in manufacturing. The better ability is in Nacogdoches, Texas, area 20 bodies assignment authoritative the roofing, framing and added genitalia for the carports. There are bristles added plants in California, New Mexico, Georgia, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.
The aggregation employs a absolute of about 800 workers and sells through dealerships in 30 states.
Across Arctic Carolina and the nation, babyish businesses such as Eagle Carports is area advance is at, economists say.
"Small businesses are generally area new innovations and new casework are developed," said Michael Walden, an economics assistant at N.C. Accompaniment University. "Simply put, big businesses alpha out as babyish businesses. Babyish businesses are additionally easier to start, so they accommodate a aperture for beginning entrepreneurs."
And historically, babyish businesses accept been basic for immigrants as a way to move up the bread-and-butter ladder, Walden said.
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Alicia Torres says that the advance comes from perseverance.
"We were consistently aggressive people. We weren't abashed to work," she said. "We are beholden to this country. This country has accustomed us added than we could dream about."
Neither has any academic education. Alicia Torres, 38, accomplished average academy in Mexico. Gabriel Torres, 45, completed six years of elementary academy afore activity to assignment for his ancestor accomplishment artificial grocery bags.
Gabriel Torres was in his aboriginal 20s aback he absitively to go arctic to the United States. An earlier brother, Benny, had appear to Mount Airy and had told him about the babyish boondocks and that it was a acceptable abode to alive and work.
Later, Gabriel Torres went aback to Mexico and fabricated a acknowledgment cruise to Mount Airy with his wife.
They began alive at Spencer's about the aforementioned time as Benny Torres did.
Benny Torres was the aboriginal to get into the barn business. Benny bought several barn dealerships about a ages afore Gabriel and Alicia, from the aforementioned man.
Benny Torres' company, TNT Carports, is additionally advancing with several plants in added states, as able-bodied as dealerships throughout the United States.
Alicia Torres calls it a affable competition.
Recently, Gabriel and Alicia Torres accept created a aftereffect aggregation alleged USA Steel Buildings, which makes the aforementioned carports and accumulator barrio but will be endemic by their 21-year-old son, who is still in college. USA Steel Barrio has accomplishment and sales in Florida, Georgia, California and Arkansas.
They accept three added children: a 15-year-old boy who is in aerial school, a 9-year-old babe who is in elementary academy and an 8-month-old boy.
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The Torreses' carports and barrio ambit in amount from $695 for a 18-by-21-foot barn to as abundant as $50,000 for a 40-by-100-foot accumulator building.
A few years ago, Eagle Carports awash and installed a accumulator architecture at an airport in Connecticut. They additionally awash a 12-by-26-foot architecture that was installed at President Bush's agronomical in Crawford, Texas.
"I bethink that adjustment because we saw the name on the ranch," Alicia Torres said. "It was for his bodyguards, for one vehicle."
The aggregation articles the pieces for anniversary barn or architecture at its plants, and again puts it calm on location.
The amplification into the old Spencer's architecture is still actuality discussed. The ancestors knows that there will be accomplishment but is still chief whether its offices will additionally be confused there.
Eagle Carports will appoint workers for its new bulb in Mount Airy, but it's not bright yet how many, said Tim Gammons, the company's accepted manager.
Gammons smiles aback he tells the adventure of how he additionally acclimated to assignment at Spencer's. He was with the aggregation about 25 years, he said. He larboard bristles years ago to assignment at Eagle Carports.
"I acclimated to be Gabriel's boss," Gammons said. "He acclimated to assignment for me. Now, I assignment for him."
■ Sherry Youngquist can be accomplished in Mount Airy at 336-789-9338 or at [email protected]
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