By the time Antonio Jesus Gijón launched AJ Precision Concrete in 2001, he already had 17 years of experience in the trade. Clearly, he’d come a long way since setting out at the age of 16 to look for work thousands of miles away from home.
In 1983, Gijón and a friend immigrated to the U.S. from Oaxaca, Mexico, arriving in Santa Barbara with little more than the experience they had working on rural farms. “I was good with a shovel,” Gijón remembers. In 1984, he started as a laborer with David Bradley Concrete, which most notably built the foundations for the Gregg Motors car dealership and the Hampton Inn.
Four years into the trade, building his skill set along the way, Gijón took a union job with Lash Construction, where he worked as a concrete finisher until 1992. “It was very interesting work,” he says. “For me, it’s always about being a good finisher.” By the time he started with Concrete Impressions, in 1992, he was running projects as a foreman and starting to think he could run his own business.
In 2001, Gijón and his younger brother, Efrien, pulled the trigger. Gijón remembers that business took about six months to ramp up. Since then, he’s expanded his workforce as more project came in. These days — based out of his home office on Santa Barbara’s Westside — Gijón orchestrates as many as 18 employees, enough to handle about three or four projects at a time, mostly along the South Coast, with the occasional job in Ventura or “over the hill” in the Santa Ynez Valley, he says.
“We’re as good on foundations as we are on custom finish work,” he added.