Entrepreneurship Stories: Hispanic Heritage Month Series – Oscar Velez of Three Brothers Painting
Q&A Featuring Oscar Velez of Three Brothers Painting
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated each year from Sep. 15 to Oct. 15. In partnership with Cherokee By Choice investor Georgia Power, COED is honoring Cherokee County’s thriving Hispanic Community by shining a light on some local Hispanic-owned businesses.
We’re kicking off this year’s celebration with Oscar Velez, CEO and partner of Three Brothers Painting, a family-owned and operated painting company that has served north metro Atlanta communities for over 30 years. Oscar brings over two decades of industry knowledge to the company and has been proud to call Cherokee home since 1993. He currently resides in Woodstock with his wife and two boys.
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What inspired you to start your business?
I actually didn’t start it – it’s my family’s business. Three Brothers Painting is 32-years-old. I was eight-years-old when my father and two uncles started it. Back then, they were working for somebody else, and they decided to chase the American Dream and be their own boss.
My sister and I have been running the business day-to-day for close to 20 years. We’re trying to carry on the legacy that my family started. We are true second-generation business owners, and we’re very proud of what we have built and continue to build.
Growing up, I saw the flexibility of running a business how you want, so you can do the important things, like take care of your people the best way you can.
A lot of hard work goes into building a business. Thankfully, I benefit from being a second-generation owner, so we have that strong foundation. That is something that, unfortunately, the original generation couldn’t have.
That changed the way that I wanted to show up as a dad – I want to ensure that I have a better work-life balance than the generation before me. My dad gave me the blueprint to make this successful while also ensuring that I have time to devote to my family and community.
Work is one thing, but that’s not what defines me. What defines me is my relationships with my family, my children and the people around me.
How has being in Cherokee County helped grow your business?
We live here; we play here.
Over a decade ago, my wife and I were in Decatur for the annual book festival. Downtown Decatur is very walkable. While we were down there in their main center area, I looked at my wife and said, “How amazing would it be if Woodstock had something like this, where we can just go from one shop to another and spend all day?” Then, little by little, Woodstock became ten times what I could have imagined.
As a small business, we are able to take advantage of all that growth. We serve customers all over metro Atlanta. I have clients up in Dahlonega and as far south as below the airport. But ultimately, I would love it if I didn’t have to leave Cherokee County. It’s just such a great place to live and such a great place to work.
We have been very intentional about being involved in our community, and that is something that is hugely important for me personally, as well as my business. We always try to give back because I grew up here – Woodstock is my home.
We’re also so grateful to be part of the North Atlanta Venture Mentoring Service (NAV), through the Cherokee Office of Economic Development, which has been really helpful. I get the opportunity to ask my mentors questions about the processes and problems I’m having. I don’t know what I don’t know. It’s fantastic to take advantage of their experience and their generosity.
What can we as a community do to continue to support you?
Just keep being your best genuine self. Speak good, be good and do good.
I always joke about being a “homer” because I grew up in Woodstock. Folks are like, “You still live in the neighborhood you grew up?” I do, there’s really no reason for us to leave Woodstock. Everything we need is here and everything we want is here.
We have such a strong sense of community in this county. That is so important to me. I take my kids out everywhere we go, whether it’s the Lantern Series at Woodstock Arts, concerts, parades or the art exhibits at the Reeves House – any sort of activity that we can find. We want to offer them new cultural experiences because those weren’t available here when I was a kid.
What advice would you give to other small business owners in Cherokee County?
Don’t sleep on networking. I have seen the value of going out there and making connections. People like doing business with people they know – not just people they know will do a good job.
If you have a connection with somebody, not only does it strengthen your business relationships, but it’s also rewarding. You start finding stuff you can involve yourself in. In the last five years, my wife and I have enjoyed getting involved with things that better our community.
My biggest advice to a business owner would be to find networking organizations and make sure you make the time to attend events – whether that’s Fresh Start Mornings, First Friday, the State of the City, the Chamber etcetera. Make sure that you get yourself out there.
Sep. 15 – Oct. 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month. What does Hispanic Heritage month mean to you as a business owner?
Inclusivity creates a sense of belonging, and it’s nice to feel included. As a Hispanic-owned and operated business, Hispanic Heritage Month makes us feel like we belong.
I actually wasn’t aware of Hispanic Heritage Month until a handful of years ago. I’ve been trying to connect a little bit more with my heritage the older I get, and especially the older my children get.
My kids have mixed heritage. My wife is Caucasian, and I was born in Mexico. As they get older, we try to explain to them that they’re part of two cultures, and we try to show them parts of different traditions and how to blend those cultures together.
Our culture is so beautiful. There are so many incredible aspects to our food, color palettes, art and history. We have a lot to say! In fact, some of the earliest civilizations were in central and Latin America – its art, its heritage. Hispanic Heritage Month gives folks who don’t know as much about Hispanic culture an opportunity to learn more.
To learn more about Three Brothers Painting, visit www.threebrotherspainting.com.