Carlos Negrin: Groomed for Success
February 13, 2015
A Maytree blog post titled Immigrant Entrepreneurs – Creating Wealth for Canadian Communities applies perfectly to Pinetree Pet Care Centre owner and Wellington County resident Carlos Negrin.
“[E]ntrepreneurship is in the DNA of all immigrants,” states the article. Indeed, they are “natural entrepreneurs.” Why? Because, “it takes a certain kind of risk-taker” to leave his or her home, culture, language, and customs (as well as established social and economic networks and connections) and “make this long journey half-way around the world, to a country with frankly very different rules of engagement…not to talk about the weather. The evidence tells us that…immigrants to Canada are more likely to be self-employed than other Canadians…Most immigrants have some key assets for investments in their efforts – not just money, but their education and their families from which they can borrow.”
Carlos Negrin made that long journey to Toronto from Mexico City in November 2000. He felt that life in crowded Mexico City had become unsafe for him and his young family. A three-month stay in Canada during high school touched him deeply – “I loved it,” he says – so he and his wife and two children made the trek knowing little about where they were going to live and what they were going to do. Having some family connections in Canada, though, made the decision a little bit easier.
Carlos and his wife Veronica came to Canada as highly skilled immigrants, both having graduated with veterinary degrees in Mexico. Initially, Carlos intended to pursue Canadian licensing in veterinary medicine, but various barriers (including linguistic) made taking the tests very challenging. Being the resourceful, resilient, and entrepreneurial person that he is, he decided to work as a veterinary technician while simultaneously focusing on starting businesses related to animal care.
Since Veronica had already begun thinking about pet grooming as a career, the two opened a grooming salon in Guelph in 2002. He partially credits self-employment courses that he took through the Business Enterprise Centre in Kitchener for his success (the Centre is now called the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre). Services for entrepreneurs in Guelph-Wellington have certainly improved over the years: the Guelph-Wellington Business Enterprise Centre now runs its own workshops for those wanting to start their own business.
Then in 2005, with financial help from other family members, Carlos pounced on an opportunity to purchase the Pinetree Pet Care Centre, a boarding and grooming facility on Highway 6 between Guelph and Fergus. He and Veronica sold their house in Guelph and moved their grooming salon, as well as their family, to Pinetree.
When asked what advice he has for other newcomers based on his experiences, his answers are not at all surprising. Newcomers who want to start a business should take courses and workshops to learn as much as they can before setting up shop and risking their money. Skilled newcomers who hope to work in their field should obtain as much information as possible about the requirements of practicing in Canada to avoid disappointment (for instance, he worked only with dogs and cats as a vet in Mexico, but he discovered that to be licensed in Canada he would require skills to work with farm animals). Find out what resources and services are available and then use them, he says to newcomers. Make friends and talk about your situation with them. Ask lots of questions.
But this warm and friendly man’s life philosophy is perhaps best captured by his comment that “[newcomers] can have a very good life here. Never think that you are going to be a rich man. I don’t think that has to be the goal of people coming here. Don’t look for gold. Look for a better way to live. You can find that here. Be an honest man. It can give you great peace of mind.”