After working long hours for six months with a window manufacturer, Gonzalez stumbled into an opportunity – working for a painting contractor – that involved a move to Philadelphia, Pa. For the next nine years, Gonzalez worked almost seven days a week, caring for his family and raising his children in the land of opportunity. Because of Gonzalez’s hard work, he was promoted and, within several years, was in charge of 60 employees. Along the way, he continued to save his money. His dream of owning his own business in this great country was in sight.
In early 1976, Gonzalez purchased a row house in north Philadelphia with a three-car garage. His plan was to use the garage space to manufacture replacement battery terminals for the automotive aftermarket industry. In June of that year, Gonzalez resigned his position with the painting contractor and started what is now the American Cable Company.
Like any new business, start-up was difficult. Working at night, Gonzalez would cast terminals out of scrap sewer pipe, while his son, Carlos M. Gonzalez Jr., assembled them. In the morning, the elder Gonzalez would load his car and spend the day making sales calls to garages and auto parts and warehouse distributors. With only a fourth grade education, a smattering of English and limited resources, Gonzalez was able to build his business and soon employed over 30 employees who worked out of his garage and basement.
To help his father, Carlos M. Gonzalez Jr. finished high school and dedicated himself to learning the business. At the time, the company did everything the old fashioned way, the hard way, including melting lead in a 55-gallon drum furnace the elder Gonzalez had made; the furnace exhausted through their house chimney. During the 70’s, there were no strict regulations on hazardous materials.
By 1978, father and son had built up enough business to purchase their first real building: a 9,000 sq. ft. facility on two floors which served as the company’s new manufacturing space and headquarters. American Cable continued to expand its product line, gaining market share with mass merchandisers and warehouse and auto parts distributors. In addition to manufacturing a complete line of terminals, American Cable expanded their product line to include battery and jumper cables.
By 1980, the company had outgrown its facility and purchased a 25,000 sq. ft. building; the company still owns and operates out of this building. American Cable continued its growth, peaking in revenues and employees in 1981. Unfortunately, the 1981 recession was devastating. As a result, all of the cable manufacturers in the area moved out or closed up.
The company lost half of its revenues during this period, and it was locked into high interest rates with its lenders. The younger Gonzalez had assumed most of the company management by this time and decided to expand through sales to the U.S. military. American Cable was successful in getting 8(a) certified, which allowed the company to secure military business on a set-aside basis. By the end of the 80’s, the company had successfully developed its military business and changed its commercial business from sales to the aftermarket to sales to original equipment manufacturers.
Both sides of the business were doing well in the early 90’s, but the resources necessary to manage the two markets were very different. The younger Gonzalez had to make a tough decision – it would prove to be the right one. American Cable pulled away from military sales in order to dedicate its limited resources to original equipment manufacturers. This decision allowed the company to continue its growth and develop into a first-class organization.
In 1995, the company, now having grown too large for its Glenwood building, purchased an additional 40,000 sq. ft. facility. The company divided their product lines, moving the battery cable business to the new facility while developing its wire harness business in the Glenwood plant. Both divisions continued to grow as the company continued to deliver high-quality products, on time, at competitive prices.
By September 1999, American Cable had outgrown both of its facilities. The purchase of a 100,000 sq. ft. facility gave the company enough space to consolidate both product lines under one roof and launch contract manufacturing activities in its Glenwood plant.
Today, the Gonzalez family’s dream continues to get bigger and better. Although retired since the age of 70, the elder Gonzalez, now in his 80’s, continues to start his work day at 5:00 a.m. at the company, although the reins have been in the capable hands of the younger Gonzalez since 1995. The elder Gonzalez remains a proud U.S. citizen who continues to tell his children and, now, his grandchildren that, “Only in this country can you make your dreams come true.”
Meanwhile, American Cable continues to operate both facilities and develop new products and markets in the U.S. and abroad.