Damon Chavez

Kewa (Santo Domingo) Pueblo




The Idea for the Business

We had a farm and equipment when I was growing up. I learned that working for yourself has rewards. You can make good money and support a family. After military service and working on the farm for a few years, I went back to school at the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in Albuquerque. I studied accounting and business administration. Mr. Jeff Wilkins had a course in small business management, and that’s where I got the idea for the business.


One day in class, Mr. Wilkins talked about a garbage collection business. I thought about the needs at home±fridges, tires and other things outside of houses. So I asked around: “Would you pay me $10 to haul away that old couch?” “Sure I would.” I thought, “This will work!” So I told Mr. Wilkins about this and said I’d do a business plan on the idea. He gave me an outline for a business plan. Ms. Joanie Goodman taught me qualitative and quantitative studies so that I could complete the plan, and I also took marketing.


Financing the Business

I got a loan from Accion in downtown Albuquerque, which specializes in loans to small businesses. My first meeting with a loan officer was at the Hollywood Truck Stop Café off I-25. I was very nervous, but I knew all of the sections of my business plan.


When I told the loan officer the name of my business—You Holler We Haul It!—she said it was a good name. She asked me about things that I didn’t have in the plan, but because I was prepared, I could answer her questions. I think that this is why I got the loan. She asked lots of questions. Finally she said, “I’m pretty positive—90 percent—about this loan. I’ll call you and let you know.”


We had additional meetings at Accion’s Albuquerque office. They wanted some collateral for the loan, so we used animals from our farm and took pictures of them as documentation.


I got the loan in 2010 and paid it back in full two years later. Accion said that they liked doing business with me and that they will do the next loan that I need.


Early Steps

I run the business out of a bedroom in my house. I don’t need much space except for my computer. The business is an all-cash business, so the accounting is simple—loan payment, gas, trash bags.


Our marketing has been mostly fliers, posters and word of mouth. One of my neighbors runs the Santo Domingo Gazette. She got the word out and did a great job telling everyone about my business.


One thing that I didn’t consider is all the thinking, headwork and paperwork that go into a business. You have to run around and get tax ID numbers, and forms for the state and federal government. All of this to get a business ID! I also had to get approval from the governor of the Pueblo. There’s so much to do when you start a business.



I want to build a separate shed for my office. I’ll need more trucks to expand the business beyond what we do now.


I also want to start some other businesses. Maybe a tire shop or a wrecking company. I also want to build our farm. With a farm we can hire guys from home to ride horses and do what we’ve always done.


Once I have the ideas and business plans, I know that Accion will work with me to finance new opportunities.


Giving Back to the Community

Generosity is one of our most important values—helping those less fortunate. My dad always told me, if people ask and you have the means, stop what you’re doing and help out. “May you grow up to be wise, grow up in peace.”


There are times when people don’t have money or vehicles and are not well-off. I’ll pick up their trash for them and they will pay when they can.


I want to sponsor a Little League team. I also want to start programs for youth and help others to succeed. Get more kids going to school and getting degrees.


Advice for Other Entrepreneurs

If you want to be in business, learn as much as possible in school. Stay on track.


I was scared at first. But I thought, “I will never know if I don’t try it.” Now I know. If I can do this, others can. It’s possible, very possible. Everything happens as it’s supposed to happen. I learned from it.



Damon Chavez has lived his whole life on Kewa (Santo Domingo) Pueblo, except for military service. Sandy McMahon, adjunct instructor of Economics and Tribal Leadership at the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI ) in Albuquerque, facilitated this article.





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