Photo Courtesy: 84 Lumber
Cesar Gonzalez, a California native whose parents immigrated from Guatemala, never dreamed that he would one day manage an 84 Lumber store, let alone serve as a role model for countless young Hispanic men and women in his community. Yet today, Gonzalez is the General Manager of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida 84 Lumber store, a location with a 40-year history with several loyal customers who have done business there from the very beginning. Gonzalez, who has managed the store for five years, has played an integral role in not only supporting the success of the store, but also connecting with its Hispanic clientele.
Growing up in Los Angeles, Gonzalez watched as his parents, who had arrived in the U.S. with nothing, rented a small closet for the family to sleep in. Working countless hours, they would ride their bikes to and from work, all to survive.
When it came time for school, his parents enrolled him and his siblings in a bilingual school, so that they could learn both the English and Spanish language – something he said has served him well in his role as General Manager for 84 Lumber.
“My bilingual education paid off,” he said. “Fort Lauderdale is a melting pot of all different nationalities. Three out of five customers coming in our store speak Spanish, so the fact that I speak and write English and Spanish fluently is part of why I’ve been successful here.”
Gonzalez also notes that when he first started as General Manger, he didn’t have any salesman at the store. Today, he has three outside sales associates who all speak Spanish. This has helped drive the store’s success as Gonzalez explains, most of its customers are walk-ins, so the ability to communicate with those Spanish-speaking customers is key.
By embracing and preserving his culture, Gonzalez has been able to carve a successful career for himself, as well as those in the community.
“I was 20 years old when I started working in the yard at 84 Lumber and juggling college part-time,” he said. “A friend of mine who was in sales with the company, had advised me on a career path that I could take should I enter the management trainee program. I am so glad I took the chance. I love it here.”
Gonzalez’s success has not only afforded him a life he is proud to share with his wife and two toddlers, but also has inspired him to one day mentor young boys that are growing up in a similar circumstance as him.
“I grew up in a rough neighborhood in Los Angeles, and I saw a lot of terrible things,” he said. “I didn’t have anyone to really push me towards the positive. I hope that my story of success can motivate a young person that wants to get out of a tough situation and work their way up like I did.”
“As a family-owned company, 84 Lumber is committed to helping our associates build a long-term career with us. We are proud to say that 95 percent of our store managers started in our manager trainee program,” said 84 Lumber Area Manager, Jason Skaggs.
84 Lumber is the largest privately held building materials supplier in the nation. The company is continuing to grow and expand into new and existing markets across the country. To support that growth, 84 Lumber is looking to hire associates like Gonzalez in Florida and stores around the nation. The company does not require a degree or prior experience to apply, and it encourages bilingual associates to consider a career with 84 Lumber, as well! To apply, visit 84lumber.com/careers.
About 84 Lumber
Founded in 1956 and headquartered in Eighty Four, Pennsylvania, 84 Lumber Company is the nation’s largest privately held supplier of building materials, manufactured components and industry-leading services for single- and multi-family residences and commercial buildings. The company operates more than 250 stores, component manufacturing plants, custom door shops, custom millwork shops and engineered wood product centers in over 30 states. 84 Lumber also offers turnkey installation services for a variety of products, including framing, insulation, siding, windows, roofing, decking and drywall. A certified national women’s business enterprise owned by Maggie Hardy Knox, 84 Lumber has held a spot on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest growing companies for several years in a row. For more information, visit 84lumber.com or join the company on your favorite social media platform.