Monday, November 28, 2022
Media Contact: Stephen Howard | Communications Manager | 405-744-4363 | [email protected]
You’d be hard-pressed to find an Oklahoma State University student who isn’t busy, but Friday, Sept. 30, was an especially busy day for Spears School of Business senior Eliane Trujillo.
Trujillo, who will graduate from Oklahoma State University in December, had a full school schedule, including a rigorous exam in diversity management in the workplace class of Dr. Alexis Smith Washington. He also had to close on a house for his growing real estate and construction business, and the other party persuaded him to sign the paper and present the cashier’s check that day.
He usually conducts business in his hometown of Oklahoma City, but the business building yard has to be done. Trujillo and another party have coordinated with a closed company that can meet with him on campus. He made the deal and then he passed the test.
“I did great,” Trujillo said with a smile. “I put my school first. I still love my businesses, but I have to put school first.
It’s all in a day’s work for Trujillo, 22, who has owned RT&E Construction since 2019. While carrying a full load at OSU, he also expanded into real estate and managed to start painting and remodeling companies as well.
Many Spears business students discover their entrepreneurial spirit in the classroom or at a Rita Center event, but it came out early and naturally for Trujillo. He was 12 years old when he started mowing lawns around his neighborhood, and he ended up with so many customers that he had to attach a trailer to his bicycle to carry all his equipment to more than 20 lawns. which was planted every week.
“I made pretty good money for a 12-year-old,” Trujillo said. “At the time, I didn’t know I was an entrepreneur. I didn’t know I was developing sales skills and building products and businesses. It all came naturally to me, and it was really easy to get the hang of it. .
With nothing to spend his earnings on, Trujillo invested the money back into his business. He bought new and better equipment and over the next six years expanded his lawn empire to about 80 yards.
Business was booming for Trujillo, but his family always emphasized education. He heeded their advice, and at age 18 he sold his lawn business to a friend and moved 70 miles north to Stillwater. He would become the first member of his family to go to college, but the entrepreneurial spirit stayed with him.
Trujillo picked up shifts at O’Reilly Auto Parts in Stillwater to pay the bills, but one day an old friend and mentor took him to a real estate event that sparked an idea. One session was about working with contractors, and the speaker mentioned how hard it is to find reliable workers in his area.
A light bulb went off over Trujillo’s head. He knows the labor side of home building and he knows how to run a business. He can be the trusted contractor that local real estate agents need. Within two months he started working on RT&E construction.
“There is fire in me,” he said. “When I get the motivation there’s no stopping me.”
Things got off to a slow start at RT&E, but he believed in the business model he developed growing lawns in OKC. To find work, Trujillo would get up early in the morning and go to construction sites or local hardware stores to advertise his services and network with crews. Next thing you know, his phone started ringing with job opportunities.
While the returns were small at first, Trujillo once again invested heavily in his business and employees. He started advertising on social media and bought better equipment, but he also invested in things like high-end insurance that appealed to his workers and helped them in a crowded market. Helped to stay faithful.
Slowly but surely, RT&E’s jobs went from renovating rental houses and preparing apartments for new tenants to new housing construction and sprawling gigs in high-end neighborhoods. The work at RT&E proved so overwhelming that he had to leave his job at O’Reilly. Still, education was his priority, only now he could pay cash when the bursar’s bill was due.
“If I were to give advice to anyone looking to start a business, I would say you have to learn to get out of your shell,” Trujillo said. “We all have a lot of insecurities, but you have to dive into it and not think twice. Things like that will really help you grow. They did for me.”
A foray into the construction world means extra money in his bank account, and he once again decides to invest in his own business in the form of a real estate company. Now he can afford to buy houses with a real estate company, use RT&E to fix them up, and then put them on the market. As of November 2022, Trujillo had just completed his 15th home purchase.
“I have a really big vision,” Trujillo said. “I live in the present. I try not to think too much about the past, but I think about my future when I think about the present.
Most people go to college to learn art, but Trujillo came to master it. He will walk to graduation Dec. 17 at Gallagher-Iba Arena with a bachelor’s degree in management with a minor in business. Unlike many of his fellow graduates, he will also have a resume full of successful businesses.
A master’s degree is on his bucket list, but Trujillo isn’t sure what’s next for him. However, he knows that his story is not over even if this season ends.
“It’s hard to balance everything, but I love school,” Trujillo said. “I don’t come from a high-end neighborhood. Most people don’t go to college. So, I like to encourage people to change, and show them that the only thing that limits them is their own mind. I never thought It is possible for me to reach this point, but here I am.