GenXYZ Top Five: Mitchell Gonzales, 25
President, MGC Services Corp.
Mitchell Gonzales thought he wanted to get into the hotel and restaurant management business. He majored in hospitality management his first three years at the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver, but then he had a realization.
“I love to travel, and I take ridiculous amounts of vacation every year, and I wanted to start a hotel,” he says. “Then I realized I wanted to stay in hotels, not work in hotels.”
His father owns an electrical contracting business, and his uncles have construction-related businesses; but Gonzales didn’t think he wanted to follow them. Still, most of the work he had done over the years had been in construction, so his prior experience failed to help him earn work toward hotel management credits.
So he gave in.
“I had internships in construction and I felt comfortable hanging out with my dad at his office and going to networking events,” Gonzales says. He decided to write a business plan and get the financing to start a construction company before graduating.
The head start really helped. He launched his general contracting company, MGC Services Corp., in 2009. Today the company handles a variety of construction jobs, with work mostly for commercial buildings, and clients ranging from Denver Public Schools to Union Station to the Denver Zoo.
The Zoo, Gonzales says, started as a small project and then expanded. “We installed handrails, which was an $8,000 project that took a couple of days,” he says. “Then they were asked to build steel caging around the sprinklers so the rhinos could not damage the sprinklers. Then the elephants needed the same steel metal caging, which led to decorative panels.
“It grew to $300,000 in eight months,” Gonzales says.
That is not to say everything always runs so smoothly. “There are always challenges with being a business owner,” he says. “The biggest is cash flow, especially in the construction industry. Sometimes it takes several months to get paid, and you have to be able to finance a couple months of materials.”
Gonzales is also interested in community work. He and his father, Andrew “Rusty” Gonzales, are among the founding members of the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado. The foundation, established in 2007, helps Latinos become more involved in philanthropy. Mitchell Gonzales serves on the grant committee. This year the Foundation gave grants to nonprofits such as Café Cultura, El Centro Humanitario, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition and Museo de las Americas. “I definitely put a high priority on the community,” he says.
He still gets to travel, but now it’s with World Ventures, a Plano, Texas-based organization that is partnering with the nonprofit Hug It Forward. The organization builds bottle schools, which are made from eco-bricks, plastic bottles filled with inorganic trash. Gonzales plans to travel to Guatemala to build a bottle school in December.