Nicaraguan American Luis Garcia arrived in the United States with nothing, but today he runs one of the largest privately-owned concrete businesses in South Florida — proving that the American Dream is still achievable.
Sweetwater officials wanted to acknowledge his accomplishments in running Adonel Concrete, 2101 NW 110th Ave., in the city for nearly two decades (since 1994), so they named a stretch of street after his company: Northwest 110th Avenue, from 14th Street to 25th Street.
Garcia said he was honored to have the stretch of street named after his company.
“The mayor (Manny Maroño) approached me and said, ‘I know your history, and you are a good example of the American Dream,’ ” he said in an interview in his office.
Maroño agreed that he wanted to highlight Garcia’s success.
“I wanted to spotlight Adonel Concrete to show others that, through hard work and perseverance, one can attain success,” he said. “Luis is the epitome of the American Dream.”
Sweetwater has become an enclave for Central-American — especially Nicaraguan — immigrants over the years. The area where the company sits became a part of Sweetwater in 2010 when it annexed areas roughly bounded by Northwest Seventh and 25th streets, 107th Avenue, and Florida’s Turnpike extension.
Adonel Concrete currently has a total of 11 concrete plants in Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County, St. Lucie County and in Haiti. It has more than 210 employees and a fleet of 120 trucks. The company is named after his parents, Adolfo and Nelly Garcia. He also has family members working for him.
Owning his own business has been on Garcia’s mind since he was a child in Nicaragua. His family came to the United States to escape political turmoil in 1979. When he arrived in Florida at the age of 16, he lived in a one-room apartment with his family in Miami Beach.
“It was a big change, coming from somewhere where I had everything. Now I had nothing, and it was hard,” he said.
When he was old enough to work, he worked at several jobs including for a carpet-cleaning company. His inspiration to own a business grew when he worked for a concrete company as a machine operator making $4.50 an hour and while studying business administration at Miami Dade College.
He saved money, bought a concrete pump and started renting out the machine in 1984. Later, he purchased a small portion of land in South Miami, but his desire was to make his own concrete, and for that he needed a five-acre plant.
“I was pumping and leveling,” he said. “It grew fast. Ten years of doing that, I had everything minus the concrete, so I built Adonel in 1994.”
Since then, he has supplied material for notable buildings all over Miami. His company poured concrete at the Miami Marlins’ ballpark, and his business was hired to build the four parking garages around the stadium in Little Havana. Adonel also poured concrete at the new Doral headquarters of the Miami Herald.
His best year was in 2005, when his company had $70 million in revenue, he said. Despite the recession, he has stayed afloat, and which he credits to his business management.
“I always grew with my own money,” he said. “I have little debt. I was able to react by eliminating some positions. I cut salaries for employees, and we had good customers that were hurt but stayed with us.”
For his business success, he has also been honored as “Businessman of the Year” by the Nicaraguan-American Chamber of Commerce, among other awards. Garcia has also donated concrete to schools and churches.
But behind the success, he says his goal is to always put patrons first.
“We want to be able to meet customer demand, because it’s coming heavy,” he said. “We want to satisfy the demand.”