Salvador Chavez of Sonoma’s Puente-Internacional has won one of this year’s North Bay Business Journal’s Latino Business Leadership Awards.
Tell us your story and that of your organization:
I am the son of immigrant parents that worked tirelessly to give me and my siblings what we needed. I worked with them to start Picazo Cafe in 2009 and that was the start of my life in entrepreneurship.
In 2012, at age 26, I was appointed onto the Sonoma Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees. I also joined the Board of Directors for La Luz Center in Sonoma. Between both of those experiences I was able to fully understand where my passions lied in life and it was a balance of growing business and civic contribution.
I then started Puente Internacional, Inc. in 2015 and we are now growing into international territories with our three spirit brands and am working within those brands to craft impact in the communities that we work in.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?:
Balancing life to be the father and husband that I want to be while growing our businesses.
What is the achievement you are most proud of?:
Earning the respect and support of those currently involved with my life, endeavors, and civic pursuits.
What is your biggest challenge today?:
The biggest challenge today is to continue to raise money while we grow Puente-Internacional and to find the proper form of collateral to borrow money to be able to fund the inventory needs of that growth.
Words that best describe you: Resilient, Collaborative, flexible, and problem solver.
As a successful professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?:
Being undercapitalized in the industry that we are in has been a continuous challenge that we continue to overcome. The way we continue to overcome it today is by balancing our efforts of selling our products while we continue to sell our company.
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?:
Entrepreneurship is ever evolving so I am continuously evolving to whatever the organizations need. That being said, I don’t necessarily think my profession will ever change but more so I will have to adapt to my environment, current or future business, and landscape of the market that those businesses are in.
Who was your most important mentor?:
John Brady was my first real mentor. John is a retired business consulting that changed the timing of how things happened in my life. He was willing to convince me that I already was what I figured I would become and empowered me to take more risks sooner. He confirmed my positive traits, strengthened my weaker ones, and helped me abandon the utterly poor ones.
Tell us about your community involvement:
I have been a Trustee to the Sonoma Valley Unified School District for over 5 years. I have also served on the board of directors for La Luz Center; a non-profit organization in Sonoma.
What advice would you give to a young person today?:
To find balance and happiness with themselves and that it will allow them to be happier with everyone else around them. To take risks earlier rather than later. That there is no experience that isn’t a learning one.
CEO and president
19449 Riverside Drive, Suite 200, Sonoma 95476
Professional background: Entrepreneur
Education: B.A., economics, Sonoma State University, 2009