“We didn’t know how to start a business in the U.S. and kept running into road blocks. Our successful tile business model in Mexico should work very well here but getting started was a huge problem — things are so formal here and take so long. The SBDC was a tremendous help in getting us started. Being able to speak Spanish really helped us make good business decisions — he’s the best!”
Company Profile: Guillermo Espinoza Mendoza has been in the tile distribution and retail industry for more than 15 years. His Mexican company, Copa de la Piedad, is a very successful distribution company and has many retail storefronts in Mexico. Wanting to expand the U.S. distribution of glazed and unglazed floor tile and ceramic mosaics, and unglazed quarry tile, Mendoza set up shop in San Jose. The Tile Warehouse offers a comprehensive line of tile products in a range of colors, textures and finishes from manufacturers in Mexico, Brazil, Spain, and Asia.
Challenges: Mendoza had a sound multi-channel distribution strategy and strong supply sources, but needed help with U.S. intellectual property issues and securing capital for inventory.
Actions Taken: In 2006 Mendoza worked with the Silicon Valley SBDC to obtain a trademark and a copyright. Second, they refined financial projections, wrangled with start-up costs and secured capital for inventory. Third, they researched import laws related to Mendoza’s inventory coming from Brazil, Spain and Asia. Finally, the SBDC assisted the business in locating a facility in San Jose’s Enterprise Zone.
Results: The Tile Warehouse achieved a C-Corporation status, was able to lease a 30,000-square-foot warehouse for the wholesale business, and Mendoza opened his first retail store in early 2007. Mendoza has secured distribution in more than 30 other retail stores throughout Santa Clara County.