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Ernesto Garcia: Designed for Success

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By Donna Schmidt

Despite his talent for design, and a resume bursting with a global list of accomplishments, Ernesto Garcia knew he needed help packaging it all into a successful business venture.

Interior design master Ernesto Garcia will tell you it’s all in the details.

The blending of color, the subtle dance of textures, the marriage of hard and soft lines. The details pull it all together, transforming a room — or an entire home — into a living, functioning work of art punctuated by the personal tastes and personality of the client.

And it’s the details, notes Garcia, that will drive a creative soul, a budding entrepreneur, absolutely nuts.

Those dry, mundane essentials are necessary to make a small business work.

Despite his eye for detail, talent for design, a master’s degree in architecture and a resume bursting with a global list of accomplishments, Garcia knew he needed help packaging it all into a successful business venture.

"I knew how to design, and design very well," Garcia said. "But when it came time, for instance, to select a computer and the software that was best for my kind of business, I didn’t know anything."

Last September, he turned to the Portland Community College Small Business Development Center. There, he was able to draw on the wisdom of Galen Sarvinski, a SBDC counselor with more than a decade of practical business experience, and a former business owner himself.

"He’s helped me in developing contracts and in the mechanicals of running a business. It’s a place where I can go and say ‘This is what I need,’ and he can reduce it to specific steps — you do this first, you do this next — that is so valuable."

Garcia is a student in the Small Business Management Program, a two-year course covering everything from record-keeping to advertising. Students, all small-business owners, meet once a month for a three-hour class in monthly one-on-one mentoring sessions with their instructor.

"They’re here for additional assistance in helping their business grow and prosper," Sarvinski said. "The program caters to three distinct business segments — service, manufacturing and retail.

"We’ve really got a good mix of people," Sarvinski said, counting a sandblaster, a lawyer, a financial consultant, a maid and butler service and an art consultant among Garcia’s fellow students in the class.

"That’s what makes this group so interesting," Sarvinski added. "They really help each other, and we have a lot of fun."

Ernesto Garcia Interiors has moved from its part-time beginnings in 1991 to a full-time operation with clients throughout the United States.

When the native Argentinean isn’t behind a drawing board, selecting fabrics, designing rugs or other original accents, or going over plans with clients, you might find him giving advice behind a television camera, or in the pages of a magazine highlighting his work.

The PCC small business program helps Garcia keep it all together, and is aiding in his biggest transition yet — from services to retail. He’s poised to open his first Ernesto Garcia Interiors store; the search is on for the right location.

"It will bring all of my experience together to better serve my clients," Garcia said.

Ed. note: The Small Business Management Program is now taking applications for its next class, beginning in September. The course runs from September through June. Two locations: Montgomery Park in Portland or the Capital Center in Beaverton. Call 978-5080 for more information.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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