Salvador Chavarria was born in El Paso, Texas. As a first generation Hispanic-American, Salvador was fortunate enough to be born in the U.S.A. due to the efforts of his mother Maria Elena Ramos, who was educated at Lydia Patterson High School in El Paso. She was enlisted in a program that allowed Mexican nationals to attend U.S. high schools, while living in Mexico.
Salvador attended the University of Texas at Austin and graduated with a BBA in Finance with Honors. He worked in the technology sector for sixteen years where he met his wife, Jennifer Chavarria. They are happily married and are parents of four strapping young men, Salvador, Jack Carlos, Walt Luis and Kiko. Salvador and Jennifer purchased Viking Fence Co. in 2006 and with the help of their management team have grown the business every year they’ve owned it.
Where did the idea for Viking Fence Co. come from?
When I left the technology sector, I took some time off and decided that I was going to do something impactful for my next move. We evaluated different roles working for different companies and then started looking at businesses that were on the market. We looked at fifteen to twenty businesses until we came across Viking Fence. It was a very well branded Austin company with some unique strategic advantages and an owner who admitted he was an absentee owner. I saw that as an opportunity.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I enjoy working and have always had a good work ethic. Viking Fence has grown every year we’ve owned it, there is always much to do to improve the business. Our monthly activity is driven by financial reviews for each of our divisions. So, basically, the Financial calendar drives the business activity so to speak. We are not micro-managers. We like to empower people and then hold folks accountable but that requires a weekly/monthly rhythm to how we review things and have discussions.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I encourage ideas from all of our employees but do like to ponder large changes for a while before taking action. Any successful organization needs to have candid discussions about its weak points in order to improve so we welcome respectful discussions about opportunities.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Interestingly enough and unrelated to the fence industry, I’m following the energy market given the current climate crisis we are in. The electrification of the world will require more renewable energy sources, a significant expansion of nuclear capability as that is the only stable baseload energy source and a significant amount of uranium and copper. There are tons of opportunities in this large macro trend.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I like to exercise and do so regularly. I also like to read and like following the conversations of people much smarter than myself. I also like to cook.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Take more risks earlier in life. I didn’t start taking career risks or risks related to my personal life until I was in my mid 20s.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The Houston Astros didn’t cheat in the 2017 World Series. I know that I’m negotiating from a point-of-weakness but it would be impossible to do this in the World Series.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Treat people with respect.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Hire the right people that are motivated to create opportunities for themselves and for others.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When it’s time to let people go because they aren’t being successful, I tend to take too long making changes. I need to get better about this for their benefit and for ours.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Raise a bunch of capital, hire qualified geologists and start a royalty company funding Copper mining…..like Franco Nevada in Gold…whoever does this will make billions. The price of copper just broke out of a 10 year bear market and supply is very constrained and demand is about to explode. Companies will need to start mining for Copper again.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The $100 worth of gas that I spent getting to Fayetteville, Arkansas to see my college roommate and his family at the Texas/Arkansas tailgate/football game.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Microsoft Excel and Outlook….key to running the business.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It’s a book that depicts what should be important to us and why.
What is your favorite quote?
Well there are many, but one I heard lately is “Leaders eat Last”…I like that.
● Treat employees with respect.
● Do not be afraid to take professional risks.
● Hiring the right people leads to more opportunities.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.