Monday, November 2, 2009

Guerra & Konig: A Tale of Two Entrepreneurs

Francisco Guerra and Bernard Konig have a lot in common. The two are dedicated family men, close to the same age, and epitomize the ethic of hard work. In the early part of this decade both men brought their ideas to northeast Lauderdale County and set up shop; this is where the similarity ends.

In early 2000, the small town of Lexington was still waiting for the sandwich shop the new sewer system was tauted to bring to the area. Bernard Konig, a native of the Southeast, looked around the town at the handful of empty buildings, and an idea was born.

After completely renovating a dilapidated business on Highway 64, Konig opened Bernardo's, a pizza and sub shop. The original restaurant boasted only four tables, but they were usually filled, and soon Konig opened a second location in Loretto, Tennessee. With both restaurants doing well, a friend suggested to Konig that his restaurants had franchise potential; the friend eventually opened his own Bernardo's in Elgin.

As autumn of 2001 approached, a customer pulled into the parking lot of Bernardo's in Lexington and found it vacant of cars. Inside, no customers sat at the tables, but two employees were there to tell the story of the day's events on that September 11th. Bernardo's never regained the business it had built up before the terrorist attacks, and soon all three locations were closed, victims of circumstances beyond Bernard Konig's control.

In January 2003, Francisco Guerra, a Cuban native and former stage magician, decided he needed a more economical location for his business Snow Masters. Hearing of the cheap land in Anderson and that the natives "work hard," Guerra moved from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and opened a new factory on Highway 64, just a few miles east of the old Bernardo's location.

Guerra has continued to expand his product line, adding "Flogos" and other novelties. Even in a time of recession, his business has boomed. An article in the November 1st TimesDaily featured Francisco Guerra's newest product and lauded the Latino immigrant for moving business from China to Northwest Alabama. The article went on to describe one worker who was soldering diodes for use with a snow machine. The name of the worker? Bernard Konig.

For every Francisco Guerra, we're sure there are ten who like Bernard Konig suffer business failure despite their best efforts. Our advice lies in the words of Winston Churchill: Never, never, never, never give up.

What's up with this: We're seeing quite a few signs in Colbert County for District Judge candidate Tim Milam--all red. Isn't blue the color of the Democratic Party?