By Kaity Jankovich
Imelda Onate earned her degree in finance and never imagined she’d wind up managing a family owned construction company with a Class A general contractor license.
Onate, co-owner of Sol Construction since 2013, first learned the business from her father, Lino, who’s worked in the industry for more than 34 years. Her interest piqued when her father would ask questions and needed assistance because of the language barrier.
“I started helping him out and then after awhile it was something I liked,” Onate says. “It sounded fun and it’s interesting and it’s not the same routine every day. There’s always something different and something to learn.”
Sol Construction has grown its business since 2005. The company remodels both commercial and residential properties. Onate says she’s especially proud to restore homes for low-income families—giving both homes and families a second chance.
For example, Sol Construction is currently remodeling a house that’s been condemned for years. Like many remodeling projects, the house was unlivable and not up to code without a kitchen or restrooms. The city had planned to tear it down.
“You give people or pets a second chance. This house is getting a second chance in that neighborhood,” Onate says. “Now you see the house from the before and after. It didn’t have half of a roof and now it’s got new gutters, new siding, new deck and everything. You see the house now and it’s like ‘I can’t believe it.’”
Onate’s favorite part of the job is witnessing the changes made during a remodel. She says it brings a sense of accomplishment to bring homes back to life.
“Making the homes look nice and stand out, it helps bring more value to those neighborhoods and attracts families,” Onate says. “It looks safer and more inviting.”
Onate is the oldest of three siblings and handles client relations and the office duties that come with running a business. Her brothers Lino Jr. and Jesus, along with their dad, handle all physical labor aspects of the job. And then, there’s the brain behind the operation, Onate’s mother Sara.
“It’s funny because we always tell them out of everybody the only boss is my mom,” Onate says. “My dad’s usually the one that calls the shots at the end of the day though, since he’s the one with expertise out in the field.”
Onate is also grateful for the help Sol Construction has received from the Midlands Latino Community Development Corporation (MLCDC) over the past two years. While working with MLCDC, the company has received many referrals for job opportunities and a chance to expand their network.
“We’ve been able to meet people who are in the same fields or who are able to assist us in different ways, to better the company and make it grow,” Onate says. “And not necessarily just in the construction industry. They’ve opened those doors to making connections.”