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Rising Star: Manny Cruz, A self-made businessman in the construction industry 

Written by Christian F. Hanson on Sep. 21st, 2023
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In the sprawling cityscape of Salem, a new star has risen in the realm of construction. Manny Cruz is a self-made businessman, entrepreneur, and contractor who has framed homes in prominent projects and seeks to shape the city’s architectural future.

Meet the man behind Lex GC, an entity rapidly gaining a reputation in Salem’s construction industry. Despite holding just a high school diploma, his 18+ years in the construction business tell a tale of tenacity, dedication, and a relentless drive to excel.

One of his significant feats includes framing a home for the 2022 Street of Dreams project, an achievement many in his field can only aspire to. His contributions don’t end there. Cruz played a pivotal role in building a subdivision for Del Boca Vista and was integral to the Riverwood project in downtown Salem.

Navigating a profession predominantly occupied by seasoned builders wasn’t devoid of challenges for this young entrepreneur. “Being very young in an industry that is made up of builders who’ve been around for a long time was a challenge,” Cruz admitted. But with a never-say-die attitude and an unwavering confidence in his expertise and craftsmanship, he carved a niche for himself. “Never take ‘no’ for an answer and show up every day on site,” he advises budding professionals.

Adam Wilcoxen, a close friend and mentor, played an instrumental role in his professional trajectory. Employing him at the age of 18, Wilcoxen’s mentorship extended beyond business, encompassing personal life lessons that have become foundational to his success.

Unique skills often set individuals apart, and for this dynamic professional, it’s his ability to converse effortlessly with individuals from all walks of life. Being bilingual allows him to bridge communication gaps, liaising with both builders and on-site workers. “All it takes is one person to give you an opportunity,” he says, emphasizing the importance of seizing chances and learning from mistakes.

Remaining at the forefront of industry advancements is crucial. Through constant communication with suppliers and an openness to embrace innovative tools and techniques, he ensures that Lex GC remains a competitive force in the ever-evolving construction landscape. 

Work-life balance, a challenge for many professionals, especially during the initial phases of their careers, was a tightrope walk for him. But with the unwavering support of his wife and sheer hard work, he’s now reaping the benefits, cherishing precious moments with his children and family.

Looking ahead, his aspirations are clear: “My long-term goal is to build a legacy my children can look back on and be proud of.” His ambition doesn’t stop at personal milestones. With dreams of evolving from just the framer to the builder of expansive subdivisions and plush apartments, he’s eager to give back to the community that has given him so much.

Manny Cruz envisions Lex GC not only as a construction giant but also as a benefactor to youth sports and schools in the area. And how does he plan to achieve these lofty goals? The same way he has always done – waking up at 5:45 every morning, heading to the job site, and working shoulder to shoulder with his team.

For young professionals charting their course in any industry, his journey serves as an embodiment of perseverance, hard work, and the boundless opportunities that come with it. Salem’s architectural future looks promising under the deft hands of such dedicated professionals.

Christian F. Hanson

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