Virgilio’s San Benito, Texas-based stone memorial business, D. A. Monuments, is a uniquely community-oriented company. Virgilio prides himself in serving seniors in his Hispanic community by offering them reasonably priced, high quality products. His aim, he says, is to help these seniors provide respectable, well-crafted monuments for their loved ones that fit into their small and often fixed-income budgets.
Virgilio’s business, which he began 15 years ago, makes stone memorial monuments for cemeteries. The ideas to start his business came to him while working at a funeral home, during which time he started to create monuments for the customers there. When people began to comment on how much they liked his work and asked for more of his products, Virgilio opened the doors to D. A. Monuments.
Currently, he sells his products directly to members of the Hispanic community and has contracts with various cemeteries in his area. The business has grown enough in the past 15 years to support two full-time employees and two others who are on-call. However, even with these employees, the amount of sketching, measuring, and designing necessary to fill his monument orders was causing Virgilio to work ten to twelve hour days, including weekends. As a result, he decided to modernize his business, utilizing cutting-edge computer design equipment to save time and allow his business to take on more orders.
Virgilio used his loan to purchase a computer system called Monu-Cad, worth $15,000, which allows him to map out the design of his products on the computer. It dramatically cuts down on the amount of work he has to do; he says what used to take 24 hours can now be done in an hour and a half. His is the only business that offers that type of quick service in his town, and he is now able to produce and sell significantly more products.
In the future, Virgilio hopes to continue offering the affordable, reliable products for his community members along with gaining more large contracts with cemeteries. Since his loan freed up a lot of time that would otherwise be spent hand-designing his products, he believes that he can now truly begin growing into larger markets.
His 15 years in business has led Virgilio to offer the following advice on frugality and fiscal responsibility to aspiring business-owners: “You can’t live a luxurious life because your business will claim it; you have to be cautious with your expenditures.” With this knowledge and his newly modernized workplace, Virgilio hopes to continue serving the monument needs of his customers and his community.
LiftFund. (www.liftfund.com) is an award-winning nonprofit organization (previously known as Accion Texas) with a mission to provide credit and loans to small and start-up businesses that have limited or no access to credit from commercial sources. Established in 1994 in San Antonio, LiftFund has helped Texas and Louisiana entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment, and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. Learn more at www.liftfund.com.