Garza Taking Next Step

June 5, 2002
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MUSKEGON — He’s been involved in 4H, helped to organize medical clinics and food banks, and volunteered to work as a translator for the Red Cross and area hospitals

When he’s not busy with any of those or other community projects and organizations, Jose Garza Jr., who goes by the name Joe, keeps busy selling real estate and home mortgages.

Next up: Helping Hispanic business owners and entrepreneurs realized their dreams.

Garza, the owner of Trans-Action Real Estate Inc. in Muskegon, serves as interim chairman of the new Great Lakes Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a new organization covering six counties in West Michigan that plans to assist and advocate on behalf of Hispanic-owned businesses.

Garza, 49, says the interim chairman position of the new organization is just one more way he can use his success to help others.

“I’m just getting started,” Garza said of his role in the Hispanic chamber, as well as other organizations around the area.

“I’m fortunate and glad because I have a gift from God. I don’t have to be looking for that help, my thing is to give,” Garza said.

Long active in the Hispanic community in the Muskegon area, Garza founded Trans-Action Real Estate 16 years ago. Hispanics account for 60 percent to 70 percent of the company’s business.

The son of migrant workers who settled in the Muskegon area in the 1940s, Garza was born n Hart, in Oceana County, and grew up in Muskegon.

At a young age, and after reading a newspaper ad for a local real estate firm that was looking for help, Garza decided to leave a job at the Kayden Corp. While some relatives questioned the move of leaving behind a secure union, Garza recalls how his father, Jose Sr., who spent 39 years working on the line at Brunswick Corp., encouraged his career path.

“He told me it was the best thing I’ve ever done was to get out of there,” Garza said.

His first job in real estate was with the former Jim Powers Real Estate. At about the same time, when he was 21, Garza began buying home and apartment buildings to generate additional rental income.

Five years after starting out, he left the company to join and open Century 21’s first Muskegon area office. He opened a second office in North Muskegon three years later.

In 1985, wanting more flexibility and independence, Garza left behind the comforts of the Century 21 franchise and opened his own company in Trans-Action Real Estate.

“That was the next step. It was time to grow up,” he said.

That desire to take the “next step” stems partly from the entrepreneurial spirit of his father, who owned and ran small businesses of his own over the years, including a 40-acre cherry orchard, a small grocery store, a gift shop and a restaurant.

Garza, who also serves as Muskegon area manager for Barcley Mortgage Co. of Grand Rapids, continues to run the Trans-Action office, with plans to expand to the Grand Rapids and Holland markets, as he balances his time with his involvement in the community. He decided to get involved in forming the new Great Lake Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, an affiliate of both the U.S. and Michigan Hispanic chambers of commerce, because he saw it as a way to bring new resources help Hispanic businesses.

“They more knowledge they have, it’s going to give them more of a chance to stay in business,” Garza said.

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