For the past two years, sisters Lupita (right) and Silvia (left) have operated their janitorial company, Smacs Group LLC, with the help of six subcontractors. Specializing in commercial cleaning, including post-construction clean-up, window washing, power washing, and parking lot sweeping, Smacs is the parent company that has another two divisions consisting of office and residential cleaning in San Antonio, Texas. It is also certified by the Small Minority & Women-Owned Business Enterprise Program.
Though they have a successful business now, the sisters struggled for many years. Originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, the two came to Texas 23 years ago when their mother decided to remarry. The original plan was to return to Mexico after obtaining American residency. But that didn’t happen. For 15 years, Lupita cleaned houses on her own and trained four women to start their own businesses. (Three of the women are still in business.)
In order to work more effectively with her American (and non-Spanish speaking) clients, she enrolled at San Antonio College to learn English. When she mastered the language, she switched from doing residential cleaning to post-construction and other commercial clean-up. Together with her sister Silvia, who was the first in her family to graduate from college and has a BBA in business administration from The University of Texas at San Antonio, they created a mission and vision statement and reconstructed the business.
With their Accion Texas Inc. loan, the women plan to purchase two or three backpack-type vacuums to make work easier on employees. “We don’t want them to be on their knees. It’ll improve the quality of work and then service. It’s a domino effect,” Silvia said. “We tell our employees to always remember that we are not in the cleaning business, we’re in the customer service business.”
The Accion loan will help the women do more work in a shorter amount of time without compromising the service, Silvia said. Without help, it would have taken the women longer to purchase vacuums, or even begin to research pricing. Silvia said: “We’re very grateful to Accion for giving us a loan. We hope it continues to provide this service to the small business 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.