CEO/Founder, Cruces Land Management LLC
TBHF Alum, Class of 2020
University of the Incarnate Word
When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur? What was your first big entrepreneurial idea?
I received a track and field scholarship to attend the University of Incarnate Word in 2014 and was pursuing a business management degree, but it wasn’t until 2017 that I started to take an interest in entrepreneurship thanks to one of my professors, Dr. David Vequist. I enrolled in one of his courses, Small Business Management & Entrepreneurship. The class was actually an elective, but it ended up making a huge impact.
It quickly became my favorite course—I was always excited to go to class. Dr. Vequist spoke very passionately about entrepreneurship and the opportunities it could provide. That same semester, UIW was hosting an entrepreneurship competition and I decided to participate with some classmates I recruited. The idea I developed for the competition was to create a shipping container café that specialized in CBD coffee. Around that time, shipping containers were a very trendy concept for small startup business because they offered a lot of cost benefits and were a unique customer attraction.
We created our business plan and made it to the final round of the competition. That was my first taste of entrepreneurship.
Your company, Cruces Land Management LLC, works with businesses and landowners to help manage their properties through services like land clearing and tree trimming and removal. Can you tell us more about how your company prioritizes eco-friendly practices, recycling, water solutions, and wildlife conversation?
I went to work for a software company in South Caroline in 2000 after the software crash. That
When I was growing up, my father worked for a local land management company in Kerrville for about 20 years. I had grown up working with and helping my father. After completing my entrepreneurship courses at UIW, the idea hit me that together, my father and I could start a small business.
One of our primary services Cruces Land Management is timber harvesting, or the recycling of hard woods, such as cedar. We take the recycled timber and sell to a partner who distributes the product as cedar oil, shipped all over the world.
But the job is much more than just clearing properties, and my goal was always to expand our service offerings. We practice selective clearing and work with arborists and ecologists to ensure there is enough greenery and vegetation to keep the land and ecosystem healthy. Water conservation is another service we offer, where we clear river streams that have been blocked to restore water flow to dried up small bodies of water. All these services play a role in conservation efforts and add property value to the land and surrounding structures.
In addition to running Cruces Land Management LLC, you are also a licensed real estate agent. How did you get into the real estate field and how do you manage your time running two businesses simultaneously?
I met a broker in early 2017, Cynthia Thomas from Century21, who encouraged me to pursue real estate. When the pandemic hit, I officially started studying to take the tests. I got my license and joined a local team in Kerrville.
It wasn’t easy at first and I definitely made a lot of mistakes in the beginning. But learning on the job is sometimes the only way. I was lucky because the pandemic created a huge boom for real estate, so there were ample opportunities.
Because I really love both industries, it hasn’t ever felt too challenging. My land management skills and experience have made me a better real estate agent and vice versa. There is a lot of natural overlap between the two jobs and so instead of approaching it as two separate roles, I’ve found the commonalities between them and used my combined land management and real estate knowledge to better serve my clients.
One of TBHF’s core values is excellence. How do you define “excellence” in business?
I think excellence is a state of mind. Excellence is the feeling of waking up every day excited to go to work and passionate about the services you provide. When your knowledge and capabilities become second nature, you have achieved excellence. Taking that knowledge to better yourself, your business, and your community is demonstrating excellence in business.
How has being a part of the TBHF network and alumni association impacted your entrepreneurial journey?
I’ve been so inspired by the network and individuals I’ve met. Being a part of this organization has given me the drive and encouragement to grow and expand my business. There are so many influential business leaders in this group that are willing to offered advice or help. Graham Weston is an example that comes to mind. His impact in real estate and redevelopment in San Antonio is a huge inspiration and I’ve had the chance to speak with and learn from him. It’s pushed me to learn more about and get involved with real estate investment and find creative ways to expand my business. TBHF is not only helping me reach my goals, but it is helping me get there quicker.