Wednesday, March 04, 2020

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OTTUMWA: Jorge Villeda was 18 years old when he came to America from El Salvador. He wanted a chance for a better life and more opportunities.

He came to Missouri first and then moved to Ottumwa. He attended and graduated from Indian Hills in 2008 and started his own business called Villeda Construction in 2013.

Villeda worked for some construction companies before forming his business.

"I started working for a few construction companies around here and outside [the area]," he said. "I love construction. It's a combination of customer service and everything else. I decided to just go for it after a few employments with different people. The love grew for having something that was my own."

Villeda's father inspired him to start his own business, too. Back in El Salvador, his father had a successful grocery store.

Jorge and his wife Leticia "Letty" Villeda started Villeda Construction in 2013. They have several projects lined up and will move their office space from the Indian Hills Regional Entrepreneurship Center to vacant space in downtown Ottumwa in a few months.

He said working at the store taught him customer service skills and the value of hard work, something that served him well in his own business.

There are challenges he deals with, but he doesn't mind them and feels fulfilled at work.

"Ever since we walked into this business there's been a lot of challenges," he said, "a lot of ups and downs, a lot of problems, a lot of victories, all sorts of everything. I enjoy it, I don't see myself doing anything else, even if somebody wants to pay me $2,000 an hour to do something different than what I'm doing."

"Regardless of who you are, nobody's perfect," Villeda added. "You're always going to make mistakes or encounter things you've never seen before. "That's what I like about it. You do something different today and tomorrow. It's not boring."

Villeda enjoys the interactions he has with people. "Probably my number one [joy] is getting to know people," he said. "That's what I enjoy, meeting someone new and helping meet their needs, or at least what they're requesting for us to do. I love giving back to the community, too," he said.

God and people, Villeda said, have helped his business thrive.

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him," he said. "I wouldn't have what I have. There are good tools he's given me to use and he can have them back anytime."

Currently, Villeda said his team is working on several projects in the area. In a few months they are going to move their office space from the Indian Hills Regional Entrepreneurship Center to vacant space in downtown Ottumwa. He has other goals, visions and missions.

"We're working on the transitions of bigger things and we're working now with the hand of God and have three more coming," he said. "My vision as a believer is to grow the business as big as God wants me to do it. God wants to help me with it. Ideally I want to have other divisions outside the Ottumwa area, in Des Moines and Ames, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids."

"It would be nice to see one day that the whole state of Iowa will know who we are," he added.

Chiara Romero can be reached at

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Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation 217 East Main Street Ottumwa, Iowa  52501
Phone 641-682-3465 Fax 641-682-3466