Saving for a Business with $40 a Day

Christopher Linton of Hoboken, NJ was an illegal alien. He came over from Trinidad with a “modified” passport in the early 1990s with no money and nowhere to go except an aunt in Hoboken, NJ. The first work he found was as a day laborer working for a flooring company and making $40 per day. He had to send some of that money home to his relatives in Trinidad and make the rest of it work living in the shadow of NYC. In the 1990s it probably didn’t cost $40 per day to park in Chris’ neighborhood like it does now, but Chris wasn’t living large. $40 per day was barely enough to buy sandwiches and a winter coat, much less set money aside for his own business.

But Chris did build a multi-million dollar flooring business over the course of the next decade. Through the 90’s, he proved his worth and raised his pay to a dizzying $80 per day. Then in 1997 after recognizing how much value he was providing to his company he got his green card and started his own flooring company. It was as if Chris was a tiger waiting to pounce. His new citizenship allowed him to take all of his experience working in the industry and build a successful business from very early on. Chris didn’t have the kind of savings to invest much in the new business, so he credits his early success with the trust that he built up with the Hoboken community. His customers knew him as the face of his old employer, and enough of them stayed loyal to Chris and his new business to keep him afloat.

The business grew organically, and in a few years Chris changed the model to how C&M operates today. C&M has the social & financial capital to capture big clients. So they bid on very large projects—think high-rises—and then contract out the work to sub-contractors, who they manage. Leveraging just their strengths allows them to run lean while still taking on the big projects.

Chris can’t complain. With a rich Trinidadian accent, he reflects. “I live good, man”. One day, Chris wants to retire and spend more time in Trinidad fishing. But for now, he loves what he does and appreciates the opportunity that he’s gotten in his neighborhood and his new country.