Breaking Ground and Building Dreams: The Inspiring Journey of a Woman in Construction
By Janet Ramirez
In the bustling world of the construction, where the clang of steel and the hum of heavy machinery dominate the landscape, emerges a formidable force challenging the industry’s status quo. Meet Veronica Muñoz, a visionary minority woman whose unwavering determination and innovative spirit have carved a unique path in a traditionally male-dominated field. With a hard hat perched atop her head and a heart full of determination, Veronica navigates the intricacies of running her businesses, while balancing the roles of mother and wife. With a toolbox of resilience, intelligence, and a passion for excellence, she paves the way for a new era, proving that diversity not only belongs but thrives in the realm of construction entrepreneurship. Join us on a riveting journey as Veronica Muñoz shares with us insights from her childhood and how she got started in the industry, from reading blueprints, to building a legacy that defies expectations and will surely inspire generations to come.
Veronica: I grew up in Wilmer-Hutchins, we lived in a trailer up until after Pre-K when my Dad moved us to Cedar Hill. It was very different from what it is now. We had a one-way street going into Dallas, very country. It was the kind of place where everyone brought their pet rattlesnakes to show-and-tell. My dad had a job as a carpet installer but then started to do his own jobs on the side, which eventually allowed him to work for himself completely. He founded Mezquite Carpets, a floor recycling company. At this point, I’m around 14 years old and I start helping at work doing translations, accounting, even sales here and there. I would save most of what my Dad would give me and anything extra I would buy clothes or whatever else I wanted. I was a little hustler – I also made money at school by writing essays for my classmates, doing their homework, and so forth. I also found the time to be in soccer, DECA, etc., but still I wanted to drop out of school and work full time. I wanted to make money but my Dad asked me to finish school for him, so I did. I planned on going to Northwood University since they offered me a full ride scholarship, but he suggested I apply for Southern Methodist University. I got accepted, and when they offered to only pay a part of my education, my dad paid for the rest so I could attend.
Veronica: At the beginning I wasn’t completely sure what I was going to do, so I’m in school, but I’m still helping my dad, and I’m working as a bartender at night. By then, my dad had gifted me Mezquite Carpet and I purchased my first investment property. Somehow, I also found the time to travel. I was pretty busy but also having a great time, still not knowing which direction to go, I thought maybe Finance or Economics. One semester, for one of my required electives I took Ethics and I found it intriguing. Our professor, Mr. Peterson, happened to be the Dean of Journalism school and after inquiring about the program, I find out hardly any Latinos pursue journalism at SMU. Most go into Marketing or Math, due to the language barrier, or fear of the grammar. To me, it was another challenge I felt I needed to, or could overcome. So, I applied for the program, took the entrance exam and I got in. I was hooked. I loved journalism. I participated in the daily morning broadcast, and eventually completed an internship at Univision. I was the first one from SMU to do an internship there – prior to that, SMU didn’t have a partnership with them, but with the help of my mentors, I was able to change that. I really wanted to go with a Spanish-speaking network where I felt I could make a difference for the community. For a while, I really felt this was my calling. I made the decision to give Mezquite Carpets back to my dad. Univision had hired me as a full-time employee; I was good at my job and really enjoyed it. I was also still investing in real estate, so financially I was in a good place, and running Mezquite Carpets was just something I was not interested in doing.
Veronica: Well, my Dad had way more work than he could handle. Mezquite Carpets wasn’t just doing carpet recycling, he had a whole other division doing carpet installs. That part of the job was not very fun for him – he wasn’t interested in the sales aspect of it. In his opinion, it took way too much work and time, yet was not as lucrative as carpet recycling. He calls me up and tells me he’s thinking of closing that business down, unless I want to take over carpet installs, which he really encouraged me to do. My dad felt since I knew the ins and outs, it would be an easy transition for me to take over. There was a lot of money to be made, so he wouldn’t take no for an answer, no matter how much I said I wasn’t interested. Around this time, after a few years at Univison, my “dream job” was starting to sour, and after considering his offer, I gave my notice and took the plunge. Mezquite Installations was born. I was scared and nervous to run my own business, but my dad reassured me he’d be there to guide me along the way if need be. Some of my siblings, cousins and other relatives came to help out, and company really grew. And the rest is history!
Veronica: I have never felt discriminated because of my gender. I’ve been around this industry for so long – I know how to drive a forklift, I know how to cut tile, I can do it all, while understanding my limitations as a woman. If you know what you’re doing and you have confidence in yourself, people will respect you, whether you’re a man or a woman. I’m so secure in my strengths that if someone was making assumptions about me because I am a woman, I didn’t even notice. What I could see, however, was the shock on some people’s faces that I knew so much about carpeting at such a young age. I mean, I was making sales as 14-15 years old. I was the COO of my dad’s company while still a teen, so it was very surprising to some how much experience I had.
Veronica: I include them in everything I do. I take my kids to the warehouse with me, they have their own hard hats and safety vests so we can “go work”, we give them little tasks to help out so they can feel like they’re part of it all. They love it. It’s very much a family business.
Veronica: For now maybe getting bigger contracts, but apart from that, I want to get involved more in giving back to the community. My dad made sure he did that with Mezquite Carpet. He named his business after his place of birth in Mexico where he was raised. My father didn’t have much of a formal education, his family, like most families from Mezquite were very poor, so children had to work instead of going to school. What he did have though, was intelligence, heart, and a lot of drive. He was one of the first to leave his little town for America, and he made sure to teach others what he learned so they could come to the US and do more than wash dishes, or clean houses, and so forth. Hopefully they did the same for others, pass that knowledge down. He truly felt Mezquite Carpet was for everyone, not just himself. Just off the top of my head, I know he helped create about 30 small businesses, from training them, to helping them start their own business with financial assistance.
I feel the same way. When an employee of mine wants to leave and start their own business, I don’t see them as potential competition. If anything, I feel pride in knowing I did my job, which was help them reach their full potential. I want to do more mentoring, more personal development; whether it’s my team or the younger generation. I was on the Board of Directors of the Southeast Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, where I got involved with their annual scholarship program, I’ve sponsored other education-centric foundations, here and even in Mexico when I can. I’m currently on the Board of Directors for the Regional Hispanic Contractors Association and part of several committees, where I can network and hopefully contact smaller Hispanic companies where I can offer my guidance.
My dad always said, “there’s strength in numbers.” I’m open to doing whatever I can to help shape our community’s future. I want to ensure that we are addressing the pressing issues that impact our daily lives.
Veronica: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be curious and absorb as much knowledge as you can about the business. Read a lot, learn about leadership, learn about emotional intelligence, strategy, and finances. Learn not only how to sale, but also how to manage the books. Even when faced with a challenge, take it as an opportunity to grow. Being a woman or a minority brings a unique perspective and strength that can contribute to innovation in the industry. The construction industry is ripe with potential, and your dedication can pave the way for a transformative and impactful legacy. You really can do it all.