Salvador Chavarria on Drawing Inspiration and Creating Professional Opportunities

Salvador Chavarria was born in El Paso, Texas. With a keen interest in the business landscape, he attended the University of Texas at Austin and graduated with a BBA in Finance. After completing his education, he was hired as an intern for Dell Computers, where he worked for sixteen years. There, he met his wife Jennifer and they are now proud parents of their four sons, Salvador, Jack Carlos, Walt Luis and Kiko. Salvador and Jennifer purchased Viking Fence Co. in 2006 and with the help of their management team have grown the business every year.  Viking Fence is a vertically integrated construction services/fence contractor headquartered in Austin, with branches in DFW, Houston and a new fifth location in SE Austin.  

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Why did you decide to create your own business?  

I purchased Viking Fence Co, because I saw an amazing opportunity. I always loved the idea of being my own boss, and I feel as though I have been a successful leader thus far. 

What do you love most about the industry you are in?   

The construction business is not a business that will ever be moved overseas like the technology hardware business.

What does a typical day consist of for you?  

My typical day consists of meetings, operational reviews, financial reviews…answering emails, making decisions…trying to remove obstacles for our managers.

What keeps you motivated?   

Making progress. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. We are always working to ensure we remain ahead of the competition. 

How do you motivate others?    

Many ways…some with financial incentives.  But above all, you have to know and care about your employees in order to challenge them. 

How has your company grown from its early days to now?   

When I purchased Viking Fence, we had twenty-five employees, we now employ over one-hundred and sixty people in four cities in Texas.

Where do you get your inspiration from?  

From people that do amazing things. These types of people are everywhere, you just have to look for them. I listen to a lot of podcasts as I drive to and from work, as I get ready for work, as I jog….always trying to learn.

How do you maintain a solid work life balance? 

I try to exercise, I spend time with my family, I like to read, and I love to cook. I think that maintaining a balance is fundamental to success. That said, I’ve always had a strong work ethic.

What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader? 

I like to think that I treat people with respect and that I’m fair.

What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?  

Go to school.  Know how to manage a P&L and how to manage a balance sheet.

What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?   

The start of COVID-19 and the shutdown in business was the most stressful time in my career.  At one point, we thought we would have to lay off over seventy percent of our employees.  Luckily, we didn’t have to do that.  

What is your biggest accomplishment?   

I’m very proud of my family, my wife and my four boys.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?   

Educate yourself, learn, read.  Understand that knowledge is power.

What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?  

That you need to treat all people with respect.  In college, I studied English Literature….The poem by Rudyard Kipling, “If” depicts the necessity to be able to interact with all types of people and “not to lose the common touch.”

Outside of work, what defines you as a person? 

I like to enjoy my family and have fun with my friends.

What trends in your industry excite you?   

Frankly, I’m a bit concerned about what the effects of the Government’s money policy will do to inflation and the cost of commodities for consumers .

Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?   

We will continue to grow into the premier fencing/construction services company in Texas and will probably expand into other geographies. Our goal is to be a national force in 10-15 years.

Explain the proudest day of your professional life.  

Prior to purchasing Viking, I worked at Dell, I was asked to do an expat assignment in Europe in 1999.  Europe was having problems and Dell sent four financial people over there to fix their problems.  I was sent to Southern Europe.  The division that I was in gave me a farewell celebration and the VP of Dell Americas told the entire Federal government division that I was one of the people most responsible for the success of Dell Americas. As a Financial Planning Manager in charge of the Planning process for such a big and fast-growing business with thousands of employees, I’ll never forget that.

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