BY RANDY LANKFORD
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
“There’s an unfortunate belief that certain minorities should stick to mundane jobs they’re stereotyped for,” Gonzalez says. There are also those who don’t believe women are suited to leadership positions in high-tech companies. Gonzalez busts both those myths.
“My personal and business journey as a Latina CEO has been a trying experience with many ups and downs.”
A San Antonio native and UTSA graduate, Gonzalez founded Webhead as a website hosting company in 1994 while still in college. It has since expanded to include cyber-security support, e-commerce system design and a number of digital analysis and advisory services.
“I envisioned the potential the Internet would bring to all areas of business as well as the social impact, especially through the demand for website design and development.
“Our clients look to us for the latest, most cost-effective, online business technology solutions and techniques. We take pride in being pioneers in the Internet world and making a mark on the cyber frontier. Our efforts range from helping our nation with cyber defense to assisting clients with emerging online needs.”
Operating in what Gonzalez describes as a state of “constant innovation,” Webhead has grown considerably in its 18 years of operation. The company will move into its own newly purchased building in 2013 after starting with $500 cash and a $2,500 line of credit at Circuit City.
“No venture capital investment,” says Gonzalez of the company’s organic growth. “One client, sweat equity and many odds against it. We survived three major financial downturns including the burst of the Internet bubble.”
The purchase of Webhead’s own building is, according to Gonzalez, her third career milestone.
“The first was landing my first big account for $3.5 million. It only took 12 years into my career. The second was moving from micro lending to a conventional bank and establishing solid banking relations with a sizable line of credit.”
Gonzalez is using her success to support the community as well through Webhead’s “Get Involved” program focusing on volunteerism, donations, sharing and spotlighting. Webhead employees participating in the program are encouraged to donate at least 20 hours per year to community service focused on medical research, education, military and mentoring.
“I come from humble beginnings and would not be as successful without the support my family and I received growing up. We have a social responsibility to help those less fortunate and contribute to the common good to improve the communities we work, play and live in.”
The drive and desire to make a difference was inspired by Gonzalez’s parents.
“As the oldest of five siblings, it was agonizing to see my parents struggle financially. Growing up, I watched my father labor in his trade as a mechanic to make ends meet. He had no formal education or training and spoke limited English. Despite his situation, he worked tirelessly to see that his family did not lack the basic necessities. I watched and learned. Tired, injured, frustrated he never missed work and still doesn’t. I admire my dad’s character of strength, teamwork, professional appearance and his attitude.
“My mother dedicated herself to her children and husband. She invested in her children’s education, spirituality and community development. She spent every ounce of energy on her children. She was a school volunteer, coordinated talent shows and made sure we participated in extracurricular activities: the Girls Scouts, basketball, track, baseball/softball, dance lessons. She was a domestic entrepreneur. We sold raspas, crafts, and items at the flea market. She did all of those things to pay for all the extracurricular activities. Again, I watched and learned; fatigued yet always with a smile and spirit of giving, not expecting anything back from anyone including her children. I admire my mother’s big heart, her faith, and desire to give to others.”
As for her business success, Gonzalez quotes entertainer Bill Cosby. “In order to succeed, your desire for success must be greater than your fear of failure.”
Webhead is certified as a contractor to the U.S. Government under the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) business development program, as both a woman-owned and a minority-owned small business. The company is certified with both the SBA’s HUBZone neighborhood development project and the equivalent Texas state program.
“The Webhead team did an excellent job of taking our ideas and turning them into a reality,” explains Kathy DeWaal, chairman of NIOSA, in describing Webhead’s Content Management System implementation and web development, custom design, information architecture, mobile site development and maintenance, and Quick Response or QR Code design and development.
“They were very easy to work with, informative, and always accommodated our questions and concerns. They gave us a wonderful new look and made sure we were aware of the steps being taken throughout the design process.”
Gonzalez, who grew up on San Antonio’s south side, chose the location of the company’s headquarters carefully.“Webhead’s office has and will continue to be in the inner city. Economic development cannot take place without employers who provide high-wage occupations. I’ve made a point of giving back to my community by fostering economic development in the inner city.”