Jairo had always wanted to be an entrepreneur. “Owning your own time, that’s the best part of being a business owner. Paying the bills, the bills are the hard part. “
He grew up in Punto Fijo, a Venezuelan town known for its oil refineries. Like most of the men in his town, Jairo worked in the industrial engineering oil sector. When he moved to Orlando more than 20 years ago, it was a young and developing town. “I came here in 1995, and trust me it was like a small town. Everyone came here for the parks. Now there’s a lot of construction, a lot of houses, the SunRail train, and lots of new venues like the soccer stadium.” Despite the plethora of engineering, manufacturing, fabrication and construction companies – there were no stores selling footwear to keep them safe.
Four years ago, Jairo opened Sumtek Shoes to fill the void. Since then, he’s landed contracts with 14 different shoe brands, including Timberland, Carhart and Reebok. He serves walk-in customers at his shop, as well as corporate accounts like NASA and Vencore through direct delivery to their thousands of employees.
The business operates through a storefront in Williamsburg, a neighborhood located just outside of downtown Orlando. His two full-time staffers, one of whom he’s known for more than 10 years, ensure the store runs smoothly. The two grew up together in Venezuela, working for the same oil company. Now their kids are growing up together. They regularly finish each other’s sentences, and each can tell the others’ life story like their own. They act like brothers more than colleagues.
Owning your own time, that’s the best part of being a business owner.
In 2016, Jairo received a large order from NASA in Cape Canaveral. Bulk orders are a crucial source of income, and NASA is one of Jairo’s best customers—so providing first class customer service was a priority. Bulk orders require an upfront payment to suppliers before costs are covered. Without the capital necessary to make the deal, Jairo turned to Accion where he received a loan to secure his order from NASA.
Many bulks orders later, Jairo plans to continue growing, and learning. “I’m learning English. And I made my own logo. I’m teaching myself how to use PhotoShop – using YouTube.”