One Step at a time
"95% is attitude." These are not only the words of Miguel Lucero, but it is very easy to see that this is precisely the way he lives his life. He rushes in with a big smile after just coming back with a shipment of firewood. He takes just a few seconds to wash his hands, and immediately starts talking about the business and all the things that go on.
Miguel was born and raised in Mesilla, New Mexico and he remembers vividly how it was growing up in Mesilla in the 60's and 70's.‚ "Our house was built before the sewage lines were put in. When they did that, they raised the street. Our house was no longer at street level and it would flood. Our father had to remove the ceiling, build the walls up, raise the foundation and the floors one room at a time," explains Miguel.
His mother was a strong and wise woman. "Without an education you amount to nothing," she would tell her three sons. She would go to work very early as a janitor in the federal building and worried that her kids would take advantage of her absence to misbehave. He remembers her saying, "If you don't get up and go to school on time, I'll call the police to come get you and take you to school!" Mesilla Town Marshal Campbell did, in fact, pick them up and took them to school. Miguel laughs as he recalls how he and his brothers slumped down in the police car so others wouldn't see them and think they did something wrong.
"We were very poor. My brothers and I would work in the onion fields every season. It was very hard work, but we would do it every year so we could save up to buy clothes. We never knew we were poor. My mother never said we were poor. She never used it as an excuse or a crutch. She taught us not to covet, never steal, to have determination and work hard," recounts Miguel as he reminisced on his childhood. With the encouragement of his mother and brother, he went on to complete an Associate's Degree in Engineering Technology and a Drafting Certificate from New Mexico State University. It was during his college years that he began his entrepreneurship. He started selling Christmas trees in a small lot and later grew his business by selling firewood. Soon afterwards, he saw an opportunity. Miguel obtained a contract with Stahman's Farms to supply waste pecan wood and became a pioneer in renewable energy in the area. He emphasizes: "I would like to give credit to Randy and Sally Stahman for making it possible."
"It all started on a small lot with only a friend and me. Now, I have from four to ten employees depending on the season. 25% of our product comes from Mexico. We have two 18-wheelers and seven wide frame trailers. Aside from the pecan wood, we bring in cedar, piñon and juniper wood from all over New Mexico. All of our wood is local," states Miguel. With all the beautiful product they handle, Miguel is constantly busy and could not do it without the help of his office manager, who has been with him for five years.
Miguel has been the proud owner of Quality Firewood & Materials, Inc. for twenty years and has seen his company weather the ups and downs of the economy. He prides himself on operating with a vertical integration mindset. For example, they cut and pack all of their wood themselves, and he travels to Vietnam to personally pick the beautiful pottery and other products that he offers.
It is very important to Miguel to demonstrate that goals can be achieved; to be an example that a small, local business can compete with the big guys. "You can be a small guy and make it." Today, QFM encompasses eight acres of products. Among the merchandise that they sell are: seven types of firewood; wood pellets; two types of natural lump charcoal; flagstone that comes in a variety of colors, stone types, thicknesses and sizes; Coronado stones; pavers; application products; railroad ties; rough sawn lumber; latillas; cedar stays (QFM is the only place that carries them in Las Cruces), vigas of different lengths and diameters; pottery; fountains; drilled rock fountains, as well as many other products.
"Success takes time. You do it little by little, solving one problem at a time. It is not a straight line plan. Things don't work like that," Miguel explains. His vision does not have a cap on it. Miguel admits that he currently has some new things in the works. He looks forward to bringing more new and exciting products like metal patio furniture from Vietnam; to continue to be a trendsetter in his industry and strive to always offer the best prices. One of Miguel's main duties is to negotiate the price of the products with his distributors. It is a constant battle, but it ensures that he is passing along the best prices to his customers.
Life hasn't always been easy for Miguel. He lost his first wife to cancer when his two oldest children were only 5 and 6 years old. "Those times were very hard, especially for my children." He later remarried and had a third child. "I have now been single for seven years, but I have my three children; Bridgette, Caleb and Josiah," Miguel said proudly. Both his sons have at one point worked with him and have been of great help.
His determination is palpable, and when asked what it is that drives him he replies, "The love for others." He wants to see others do well. His biggest advice would be to work hard and believe that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. He attributes his success to the words inscribed on the back of his business card: Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. -Proverbs 16:3.