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Augustine Lujan (pictured on left) came to our Kitsap All Veterans program in early 2010 with a concept for a security company and the dream of working for himself. His Navy service had given him relevant experience, and he’d earned a degree to go with it, but his wages in the field barely rose above minimum wage. He wanted to grow a business that could one day support his family and looked to C.A.S.H. advisors Stuart Walton and Bill Hoke to develop a strategy and mentor him through the process.
Rush Security started out as a one man band, but through word of mouth and plenty of cold-calling, Augie developed more business than one person could handle. Today Rush Security has 14 licensed employees—many are veterans—and provides security guard and consultation services to clients spanning executive, residential, business, industrial, event, marine, and other business needs.
When did you first decide you wanted to run your own business?
In 2009 I was at the point where I was making a little bit more than minimum wage working for a security company. I knew that there was money being made in the company because the owner was in a new car every six months. I knew I could start a security company and one day be as successful if not more successful than him, and that the people that worked for me would not be under paid for the work that they did as a security officer.
What have been some unexpected challenges in getting your business off the ground?
Kitsap County is a small town and many businesses run off reputation. With Rush Security being a new company, it is hard to market against other reputable companies that have been around this area for a long time. This has been an area which Washington C.A.S.H. has really helped me overcome the challenges. I have gone from the new guy in town to a familiar face that people can count on.
Has anything else been a surprise?
The biggest surprise to me was the first time I had to pay taxes, unemployment, and L&I. I understand the responsibility of a business paying taxes, unemployment, and L&I, but the amount a small business has to pay can be very strenuous.
What have you found most valuable about your involvement with our program?
What I have found to be most valuable in C.A.S.H are the mentors. Stuart and Bill have been great mentors. Many times people like to hear that everything is great and there are no problems with your business. It is great when you have mentors that actually tell you that there is a problem with your business and it needs to be fixed. Without the knowledge of these mentors and the other business owners in the class my business would have taken a lot longer to grow to the point it’s at now.
Why is it important for community to have this kind of support and resources for small business entrepreneurs?
Small and local run businesses are the heart of a small community. They provide personal services and economic contributions to the community. Programs like C.A.S.H. can truly make a difference in the community and more people should know about it.
What’s been the key to your success so far?
I have always had people that believed in me starting my own company. They have been behind me pushing me both when times were good and when times were bad and even I wanted to shut the doors to the company. Another major key to my success is being able to find reliable employees with strong professional backgrounds and a field supervisor than I could trust. If I had to go away for any reason I know that I can trust him with the business and know that if there are any problems that he will solve them.
Anything else you want to say?
I truly want to thank all the mentors of Washington C.A.S.H. – Kitsap County and all my classmates and peers, they have helped me have the confidence I need to keep my business going and to be successful.