Building Toward Success
As someone who came 11 years ago to the US to start a new life, Alejandro Juranovic knows what a challenge that can be. Today, having done well for himself, he likes nothing more than helping fellow Argentines who are embarking on the same journey.
“When I got here, I hardly knew anyone, so I had to learn a lot of things on my own. And I barely spoke English” he says. “Now I like to take the time to help others who are going through the same experience I did.”
Like many newcomers to the US Juranovic arrived planning on doing one thing and ended up doing something entirely different. After completing his degree in Industrial Engineering in Argentina, he came to Houston to do a master’s degree in Geophysics and establish the US office for his father’s geophysical services company back in Buenos Aires.
In an interview, Juranovic comes across as an energetic and outgoing person, so it’s not hard to imagine how he managed to begin networking and figuring out how to get a business off the ground in the US. He credits several people, including fellow ATCC member Alejandro Haiek, in giving him a hand in getting started.
Coming from a country where the business is done based on family ties or long-term relationships, Juranovic acknowledges that he was initially wary about doing business with people he didn’t know well.
“In Argentina, I knew people I could trust. Here I had to look for them,” states. And with time, he found them, though he admits there were a few relationships that didn’t turn as well as he would have liked.
By 2014, things were looking up. The family company, DataSeismic Geophysical Services, had gained a foothold in the US. With oil prices above $100 the company’s business – like many other companies in the Oil & Gas sector – was growing, but when oil prices nosedived at the end of 2014, business dried up.
That’s when Juranovic and his wife, Solange Mariani, saw a new opportunity and decided to go in a different direction.
“One of the things I began noticing after I got here is that Houston is actually a pretty underdeveloped city, compared to a city like Buenos Aires,” Juranovic says, clarifying that by “underdeveloped” he means there is a lot of open lands to build on. “In Buenos Aires, it’s rare to find an empty lot, while here there are plenty.”
Juranovic also knew that back in Argentina, many people are looking for opportunities to lower their exposure to the country’s economic volatility by investing abroad, and for many Argentines, the best place to spend is in los ladrillos (the bricks), meaning real estate.
Those two observations led the young couple to start a real estate company, J&A Developments, focused on building townhouses in Houston and obtaining financing from investors back in Argentina. In true Argentine fashion, their initial investors were family and close friends but have shown they can produce results their pool of investors has grown.
Their latest project is a townhouse project with 24 units in the Third Ward part of Houston, just in front of Midtown.
After more than a decade in Houston, and having founded a successful business, Juranovic says, “sometimes you forget how difficult things were when you started out.” But through his efforts to help others who are now in the same position he was when he started out, he is reminded of how daunting the challenge can appear to newcomers.
The key, he tells them, is “to build the kind of relationships that are there when you need them.”
Sound advice, to be sure, but talking to Juranovic is a good reminder that it takes more than good relationships to succeed. Perseverance, the capacity to spot opportunities, and the willingness to take the risk to pursue are perhaps even more critical.