CCCC helps Siler City man start own business
Jeronimo Prieto Medina
SILER CITY - Start a conversation about fixing hydraulic hose blowouts, replacing O-rings and welding broken rock-crusher teeth and you’ve got Jeronimo Prieto Medina’s attention.
That’s the kind of hands-on work he loves. For 11 years, he used his skills to maintain and repair heavy equipment as an employee for several companies. In 2009, he started his own company, JP Mechanic and Welding, working out of his Siler City home.
“As an employee, I worked 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.,” he said. “When you’re your own boss, you start at 6 a.m. and work until whenever you get home, but I love it.”
In the early 1990s, Prieto Medina hadn’t even finished high school, but he determined to change that. He enrolled at Central Carolina Community College’s Siler City Center and earned his GED high-school equivalency diploma in 1995.
He then enrolled in the industrial systems program at the college’s campus in Sanford, working full-time while earning certificates in welding, hydraulics and maintenance. That prepared him to repair heavy equipment, such as excavators, scoops, and graders.
From 1998 to 2009, he worked for several companies that used heavy equipment and needed skilled people to maintain and repair them. He enjoyed the work but wanted something more.
“I always had a dream of one day having my own repair shop,” he said. “At the companies I worked for, I saw, instead, that everything moves around the service truck that can go where the repairs and maintenance are needed, rather than bringing the broken equipment to a shop.”
One of the companies he had worked for ran into financial trouble with the recession and offered him a Chevy Super Duty truck at a good price. He snapped it up.
“It was my birthday, Nov. 4, when the company owner said I could buy the truck,” Prieto Medina said with a smile. “The next day, Nov. 5, the bank called and said my loan to pay for it was approved.”
He thought he was all set with the skills, equipment and truck he needed - except he had no idea how to set up and run a business. That was when the Small Business Center at Central Carolina Community College in Chatham County came into the picture. He contacted the Chatham Chamber of Commerce for help and they referred him to Gary Kibler, the SBC director.
“I could tell Jeronimo had the energy and an entrepreneurial spirit,” said Kibler, “and he had the necessary resources to make his business successful. He was a pleasure to work with.”
Kibler was able to tell him all that he had to do and direct him to the right people and offices to do it, from registering his business to setting up a business bank account and keeping financial records. Together, Medina and Kibler developed a pro forma profit and loss analysis, which Kibler called “sort of a sanity check” to determine that buying the truck and setting off on his own could make sense, with reasonable assumptions about developing a base of clients.
“It was a big eye-opener,” Prieto Medina said of learning all that had to be done to establish a proprietorship on a sound footing. “I put on my first business card that I did maintenance and repair. Gary asked, maintaining what, repairing what? He provided a fresh look at what I was doing and what I needed to say about my business. He kept me on track. Now my business cards clearly reflect what I do and how to contact me. Friends seek my advice about starting a business and I share the information Gary gave me.”
He got his license to work as a business in Siler City, but Kibler recommended getting a state business permit also, so he could offer his services over a larger area. He did so and now does most of his work in the Durham-Raleigh area. He spends a lot of his time on the road, responding to calls on his cell phone, calls from companies that need him, his work ethic and his skills to keep their heavy equipment working.
“It’s a real good feeling being my own boss,” Prieto Medina said. “Setting up my own business was a lot different than I expected. I’m glad I had Gary to help. Now I wake up in the morning and I’m my own man. I’m looking at a good future.”
JP Mechanic and Welding company can be reached at (919) 650-7438.
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