When U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Hector Cruz selects the raw material to create custom designs for his clients, his vision for these creations goes beyond the finished product.
“It’s not just about me creating pieces,” said Cruz. “It’s about continuing service to my country.”
As the founder of BXC America, which stands for Bronx Creations America, an independent creative studio that specializes in industrial lighting and unique home decor, Cruz is on a mission to create economic opportunities for fellow Americans.
The road leading up to this entrepreneurial endeavor hasn’t been an easy one for Cruz; It’s been an ongoing journey filled with pain, pride, and passion.
As a N.Y. City teen on the verge of graduating high school, Cruz knew he didn’t want to work a dead-end job and wasn’t interested in college at the time. Knowing these things about himself, he decided the military was his best option; and almost a year after joining the Marine Corps, 9/11 happened.
As an Infantryman, it was no surprise that Cruz was deployed to the Middle East. During his deployments he experienced many of the hardships that go with the early stages of war and witnessed a fair share of sad and traumatic events.
After serving 6 years and 3 consecutive deployments, Cruz was proud of his service, but ready to make up the time missed from his family and get back to some normalcy as a civilian. So, when it was time to decide on rather or not to extend his Military career, Cruz chose to move on.
After making the decision to leave the Marine Corps, Cruz was confident that finding a job would be easy.
He believed the same skills and mindset used as a Marine, which also helped him to survive in combat situations, would prove to be a valuable asset in the civilian job market; however, he quickly found that many hiring managers did not see that as the case.
“The transition from Military to civilian world was harder than I thought,” said Cruz.“Everywhere I went, to all these job interviews, everyone said: listen, we thank you for your service, but you’re not a really good fit; you don’t have the experience; you don’t have the qualifications.”
With the stress of not being able to find work, coupled with discovering he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, Cruz began to spiral into a deep depression that led to heavy drinking and weight gain.
“I felt like Captain America when I got out [of the military], to all of a sudden everywhere that I went I kept getting rejected,” said Cruz. “I had reached depression and it was definitely a lot of self-destruction within myself.”
In the midst of his depression, Cruz received an unexpected phone call from Devry University. The school was ramping up for their spring courses and wanted to know if he was interested in learning about their programs.
He accepted the invitation to the school’s open house and found their engineering program really appealed to him.
Cruz enrolled in Devry’s electrical engineering program, which required a lot of math. The calculations were a bit challenging at times, but to his surprise, being faced with this challenge re-lit a fire in him that pushed him to study harder.
This motivation began to spill over into his personal life. He soon found that he was replacing some of the bad habits developed during his season of depression with healthy activities such as running and biking.
Eventually Hector Cruz started feeling like Sergeant Cruz again.
Upon completion of his program at Devry, Cruz landed his first job as an electrical engineer.
In his spare time, Cruz began applying what he was learning on the job to create his own personal designs and projects.Through this creative free-play, he came up with his first lighting design.
His craftsmanship was so well received, a friend offered to purchase his first piece for $100; this same friend also encouraged Cruz to start a business using his eye for industrial design and engineering skill set.
As Cruz’s business began to take shape, he noticed that many of the products he purchased to create his designs were imported from outside of the United States.
As a Combat Veteran who’d experienced first-hand what it feels like to be rejected for job opportunities in his own country, you would think a detail such as this wouldn’t matter to Cruz, but this was not the case.
Cruz is proud of the country he served and knows that we’ve come a long way in supporting Veterans since his separation from the service; and has made it his entrepreneurial mission to support the countries’ economic growth by opting to use only high quality American made products when creating his designs.
Hence the name BXC America.
Although Cruz is still at the beginning stages of building his brand, he is proud to know he is serving his country once again through his love for electrical engineering and passion for creating high quality, hand-crafted home decor.
Want to learn more about Hector Cruz and his Bronx creations?
Phone: (718) 292-6948
Instagram: @cruz10455 or @bxcamerica