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Latino business owner tapping a niche market

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When Jose Munoz arrived in Winnipeg from El Salvador in 1987 there weren’t many Spanish-speaking people in the city.  

Back then, Munoz saw his talent for trades as a way to help and serve the people of his community rather than as a full-time business opportunity.

"I started doing small household repairs in the community and it grew little by little over the years," Munoz explained. "Now we do everything from walls, doors and floors to roofs, soffits, siding and so much more. We do it all."

Winnipeg’s Hispanic community has grown exponentially since Munoz’s arrival. That in turn has resulted in an increasing demand for business owners and employees who are fluent in Spanish.

As a result, he decided to launch Latinoamerican Home Renovations in 2002. He operates the business of his home in Elmwood.

Munoz acknowledges the fact that he identifies himself and his company as Latin American has helped attract clients.

"There are many Spanish-speaking people that are new to Winnipeg who don’t speak and understand English [very well]. As new homeowners they need someone that can explain things to them in a way that they can understand clearly," Munoz said.

A newcomer looking to hire someone with a similar background is something that "makes sense," according to Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce vice-president of policy Chuck Davidson.

"You’ve got previous newcomers setting up businesses and they’re going to have relationships within their own cultural background," Davidson said.

"You’re going to see people wanting to be more supportive of their own cultural background (and other cultural backgrounds, too) so that there is that natural fit for newcomers and those businesses."

Munoz is aware of this and knows there aren’t many companies that can offer what he is able to provide to newcomers.

It’s something Davidson applauds.

"There’s that untapped clientele," Davidson said. "They’re catering to a very specific market. It creates that niche for them and sets them apart from the competition."

It’s that specific market that is now seeing Munoz being called away by the Hispanic community in Brandon. The demand for his services has become so great he hopes to open a second location in that city by next summer.

Munoz insists that while he works mainly within the Latin American community, he is willing to work with anyone regardless of their culture.

"When I leave any workplace the customer has to be more than happy," Munoz said. "My reputation is my name and word-of-mouth is my best business card."

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