Tony Bustos was six months shy of graduation from Emerson High School when he learned his wife, Patricia, was expecting their first child. He dropped out of high school to support his new family and later went back to get his GED.
Today - 19 years, two children, and two Metro Technology Centers graduations later - they are the proud owners of AB Custom Air in Oklahoma City.
Although their two children are now teenagers, life was tough when they were young. Tony was working construction while Patricia went to school at Metro Tech. “My original plan was to work for an accounting firm when I graduated, but it was tough to leave my children so I stayed home with them,” she said. After several years of working construction jobs, Tony wanted to learn a new trade and enrolled in the HVAC program at Metro Tech. “I knew I eventually wanted to go into business for myself, to protect my family from recession and most people need a heat and air repair at some point.”
The late Mike Benson was Tony’s instructor at Metro Tech and his expertise and guidance, according to Tony, was invaluable. “He was absolutely the best man. Even after I graduated, I would get stumped on a job and secretly call him instead of asking my boss,” he laughed. “He really cared about his students, knew the business inside and out. He was always there for me.”
After graduation from Metro Tech, Tony worked for a commercial air company for three years and set a goal to open his own business. He studied his Metro Tech books and relied heavily on his education to pass his contractor’s license exam. He left his company on good terms, such good terms in fact, that they refer all residential work to him.
The Bustos bought a van, paid $200 to stencil their company name for advertising, started a Facebook page and made a marketing move they knew would work. “We vowed to always be honest. We do the right thing, help our customers and go to sleep at night knowing we might not be making a lot of money yet, but customers come back because they trust us,” Tony said.
When AB Custom was created in March, there was one person Tony trusted with the finances and that was his wife. Her graduation from the Metro Tech accounting program in 2005 afforded her extensive knowledge of QuickBooks and a great understanding of how to manage business finances. “The entire process of my Metro Tech education has applied to our business. I use the same software I learned in school and rely on my career training daily,” she said.
The Bustos started their business without loans and on a limited marketing budget, but are quickly building a customer base from referrals and repeat business. “We work well as a team and owning a business allows us more time with family. We’re very happy.”
Tony and Patricia Bustos, of AB Custom Air can be reached for any residential heat and air needs at (405) 698-9713 or firstname.lastname@example.org.