Since they were children, Hector and Jose Cantu have been working with chainsaws. Their father worked for a local Houston, TX tree service for over 30 years. When they were old enough, they both got jobs there as well, repairing equipment.
"We would do it for neighbors as well, after work, at home, in the garage. It just got to the point where business was pretty good on our own. We asked our parents if we could take over their 800 square foot garage." – Jose Cantu.
Growing up in the tree industry, they used their small garage space to cater exclusively to tree care professionals. They didn't know if their strategy would work, but they knew the equipment – and the importance of service.
"At that young age, we didn’t know any better. We just went for it. We're go-getters I guess."
Then, on September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall in Houston, TX. The storm caused widespread damage and power outages. After the storm, many larger stores could not stock outdoor power equipment to sell. The Cantu Brothers, on the other hand, were able to open their doors and stock equipment – often loading the trucks themselves and driving it back to their store.
"We worked with our [STIHL] reps and met them half way. We’d load up three, four hundred chainsaws, come back, sell them and then back at it again. We were up at 4:30 in the morning every single day to 10 at night. If I had to guess, I'd say we sold over 2,500 chainsaws in less than two weeks."
Their sudden success allowed the brothers to expand their operation and deepen their customer relationships. Today, their retail shop continues to serve local arborists with quality STIHL equipment and knowledgeable support. That support includes their father, uncles, nephews and daughters.
"We wanted them to be brought up with that same work ethic... just so they can know what it's all about – how we started. Maybe if they want to take over the company one day, they can."