WALLINGFORD — Growing up in Wallingford in the late-1990s through the early 2000s, there weren’t a lot of Latinos like Octavio Dominguez, who’s of Mexican origin.
However, it wasn’t until Dominguez started attending the Spanish Community of Wallingford’s programs that he was able to find his community and build a foundation for his future career endeavors such as his own home inspection business, Grizzly Home Inspections, and his record label, Resalta Records, at only 25 years old.
“Growing up in Wallingford as a Latino, there weren’t a lot of Latinos there,” Dominqgez said. “All the Latinos that were there, we were pretty united … SCOW helped form the big part of that because there were a lot of people from our same town (in Mexico) that we wouldn’t know and wouldn’t hang out with until SCOW. We started building friendships through them.”
When Dominguez was about 9 years old, he participated in the summer programs and annual Bike Rodeos at SCOW. During this time, he met Adriana Rodriguez, the executive director of SCOW, who started volunteering for the organization in 2006 at 13 years old. Dominguez said Rodriguez was a mentor for him through his time at SCOW and thereafter.
“Since I could remember, Octavio has always been a leader,” Rodriguez said. ” He rarely missed a program session, always asked many questions, and even challenged topics at times. Octavio has been, and is someone always willing to learn and try new things.”
When he was in high school, he enrolled in SCOW’s ¡Adelante! America Youth Leadership Program. The program provides support for students in middle and high school to deal with the challenges of growing up to immigrant parents and adulthood.
Dominguez explained that growing up under the guidance of SCOW’s programs “kept him off the streets” and has helped him through adolescence and into adulthood and to plan progressively toward his future.
“Well, growing up you try a lot of things,” Dominguez said. “You don’t really know what you’re going to be or who you’re going to be. I thought I was a little bit more of a bad kid and then SCOW really opened up my eyes towards a lot of things like having the option to go into college, or maybe pursuing a more challenging career. Speakers would come in and talk to us about things like setting yourself up for the future, and that’s something that maybe we didn’t think about a lot until I joined ¡Adelante! at SCOW.”Becoming an industry leader
In May 2022, Dominguez started his own home inspection business, Grizzly Home inspections.
Dominguez’s dad was in construction for as long as Dominguez could remember. Every day after school and every Saturday, Dominguez would work alongside his dad in construction.
“That was just my destiny to work for him, right? Like, I had no choice,” Dominguez said. ”At the time, I was like, ‘man, this is annoying.’”
At around 14 years old Dominguez started getting into cutting hair at a barber shop but he eventually found his way back into construction because he felt he could make a better career out of it.
After graduating from H.C. Wilcox Technical High School in electrical engineering, he started his apprenticeship.
“It was going good,” Dominguez said. “I learned a lot, but just working out as an employee, no matter where I went, like, it just went bad for me. I’ll be the hardest worker I could, but I could never really prove myself. So that’s when I wanted to change to a different career. Since my father did construction, I learned a lot of plumbing, framing, electrical and stuff like that. So it all kind of put it together.”
Due to his background in construction and consistent willingness to try new things, Dominguez decided to get into the home inspection business. After he bought his first investment property at 23 years old, he connected with an inspector that Dominguez hired for his property, kickstarting his career in the industry.
“I asked him I was like, ‘Hey, man, are you hiring or anything?’” Dominguez said. “And he was like, ‘well, not at the moment, but I could probably give you a trainer.’ So he gave me a try and it went pretty well.”
After his experience working under his home inspector’s company, he decided he could take on his own bilingual home inspection business under his leadership, wanting to help the local community.
“I figured I should probably do this on my own,” Dominguez said. “I felt like I know a little bit more than the owner and so not to be cocky but I felt like maybe I can really shine in this and maybe I could really pursue a whole career in this.”
Dominguez said one of the contributing factors for him is wanting to pursue this line of work professionally on his own so he has financial freedom, something he didn’t have during his time as an employee.
“I really didn’t want to be part of the system,” Dominguez said. “I felt like with construction, the contractors were getting the big piece of the pie and then when they were splitting it up, by the time it got to us workers we’d get crumbs … then we’re left with very little.”
Though he works more than ever, he said it’s worth the price of being your boss.
“The whole idea of only being able to vacation one week out of the whole year, really got my brain going, like how was it possible to get my whole life to work and then just only have five days. So I wanted to build something different where I didn’t have to depend, I didn’t have to have a boss or I didn’t have to depend on anybody else,” he said.
He explained one of the most rewarding things he’s done as a new business owner is paying back his mom for a loan after his first month in business. “That’s where I realized my parents were really proud of me,” he said.Advice on starting your own business
Rodriguez said when she found out Dominguez invested in his own home inspection business, she was a ” proud A-Rod,” a nickname the children members like to call her at SCOW.
“It makes me tremendously proud to see Octavio become an entrepreneur, and business owner and return to SCOW to present to the community,” Rodriguez said. “All of us at SCOW enjoy seeing him and his peers become active and successful leaders.”
In April 2022, Dominguez also started his record label, Resalta Records, where he produces Mexican music on all streaming platforms.
As an owner of two successful businesses in his mid-twenties, Dominguez knows a thing or two about starting a business and taking something you love and turning it into a career.
“Definitely, find what you love,” Dominguez said. “Find whatever you love, whatever you’re passionate about, whatever you’re good at and just try that. Just make that your one and only focus and learn everything you can about it. I learned a lot on YouTube and that actually helped me a lot. But just being educated in what you do if you find what you love, and you find that niche, that’s what makes a business.”
Dominguez said Rodriguez has taught him everything he knows about being a professional and how to present yourself, which he holds on to when getting into the entrepreneurial field.
“Advice I always gave Octavio and would give to anyone starting out is to get involved and never stop learning,” Rodriguez said. “You learn so much about yourself and your community by volunteering, joining committees and trying new things. I have been an active volunteer since the age of 13 and have never stopped. Volunteering has given me the opportunity to meet mentors and acquire many skills and life experiences that I have applied to my career.”