Great Service, the Right Niche, a Family That Won’t Give Up

Cole Harmonson

 The Story of Gonzalez Labor Systems

Cruz Gonzales didn’t prepare for instant success. He didn’t have much in the way of cash reserves, business plans, or marketing strategies. And he certainly didn’t plan on his business taking off the way it did when he started Arlington, Texas-based Gonzales Labor Systems in 1991. “It was actually kind of scary because we had no idea of the volume we were going to produce,” recounts Cecilia Gonzales, President of Gonzales Labor Systems and Cruz’s daughter.

Connections are key

When Cruz started his staffing business, he didn’t know a thing about how to run one. He’d studied the tax laws around staffing companies, but that was about it.

What he did know was food manufacturing. Cruz had spent most of his career working in a plant. Over the years, he’d noticed temp agencies, but didn’t give them much thought — until he was laid off from the plant where he’d worked for over 25 years.

As Cruz was figuring out his next move, it came to him: Why not start a staffing agency specifically geared toward food manufacturing? He knew the business. And he knew the business owners and managers. His contacts in the industry were on board when reached out to them with his idea. He found the right people to fill positions, and, boom, Gonzales Labor Systems grew — much faster than they ever thought possible.

“The growth at first was really crazy,” says Cecilia. “We were grateful but it was overwhelming.”

All in the family

It wasn’t just the immediate ramp-up in business that took Cruz by surprise. He also hadn’t planned on how soon he’d need help. Not only was he unloading boxes for another company just to get Gonzales Labor Systems on its feet, he was taking care of every aspect of a booming business alone, from making sales calls to creating invoices and doing payroll by hand. It quickly proved to be too much.

So Cecilia and her mother began to help. With her background and degree in nursing, Nelda Gonzales started handling worker compensation claims, and Cecilia started managing the office, so Cruz could focus on the relationship part of the business: making sales calls, taking people to lunches, and networking.

“We started off, just the three of us, working out of our home and taking a minimal salary,” he says.

It didn’t take long before the Gonzales family was able to move into an office and hire help. By 2007, the business had grown enough that Cruz had an office built for the company, and they’ve operated out of it ever since.

Great service sets Gonzalez Labor Systems apart

“A lot of people who’d known my dad in the industry will call us and say, ‘Well I used to work with Cruz back in the 70s!’,” Cecilia says, laughing. But it’s not just that they knew Cruz back when. They’d always known him to be a smart, solid guy.

“Dad’s reputation is our leading edge to this day. Because he comes from the food manufacturing industry, he knows the ins and outs of how that whole operation runs and we still have his knowledge and presence here at the company to serve those clients. They absolutely trust that,” Cecilia explains.

And Gonzales Labor Systems’ reputation for excellent service keeps them coming back.

We don’t sell divots, and we don’t sell lumber. We sell a service. There’s really not a whole lot you can do in our industry that isn’t like everyone else. Service is really the key. It’s how we talk to our clients and how we meet their needs.

Cecilia adds, “We’ve been around for 25 years. People know us by name and know our attempt to maintain excellent customer service for our clients.”

Growing in the right way, with the right partners

Of course, business hasn’t always been smooth sailing. When the recession hit in 2008, Gonzales Labor Systems felt it, hard. Clients were scared to use temps when they were laying off their own employees. The fallout hurt the company, slowing down their revenue flow.

To make matters worse, the longtime relationship they’d set up with their former factoring company failed. So Cruz and Cecilia started searching to replace it, looking at factoring companies as far away as New Jersey and Florida. Then someone they knew in Austin referred them to Far West Capital.

“I just thought that the people at Far West were so much more down to earth and friendly, as well as fair. Their level of professionalism, and just being nice people, really led me to choose them,” Cecilia says. “And I like the fact they are a Texas company.”

Now, Farwest Capital supports Gonzales Labor Systems with invoicing and weekly payroll services.

“That’s a big help to us,” Cecilia says.

In fact, she believes it’s helping put their business in a better position for future growth.

“We’re coming back this last year and a half, and hopefully we’ll be up and running even stronger. Far West Capital has been on time and on track ever since we started with them, and I couldn’t ask for a better partnership. We’re real happy and blessed to have Far West on our side.”

And that lets Gonzales Labor Systems get back to doing what they do best: providing superior service to every client, whether an employee looking for placement or a company looking for the best person to fill a role.

“Our greatest pride is helping people find jobs and knowing that we’re making a difference in so many people’s lives,” Cecilia says. “My team gets a reward when the temps share how they were able to help their kids or their parents or how they still have jobs because of us, because we placed them where they were hired full time.”

When asked for their secret sauce, Cecilia says it’s really simple.

Treat people well, the way you want to be treated. That’s really been my dad’s motto since we started the company. Don’t treat anybody any better than anybody else. You treat the person that digs ditches just as well as the CEO of the company.

“That’s a simple lesson, but in light of our country’s spirit right now, I think it speaks volumes. It needs to be told.”

Gonzales Labor Systems Family Album


Cole Harmonson is the CEO of Far West Capital, a company that funds the goals of high-growth entrepreneurs. Know a great company in need of capital to unleash their potential? Send them here and we’ll give them a call. 

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