Francisco Corral believes it only takes a moment to help someone out. He’s repaying those times when someone watched out for him.
Corral, the owner of Chico’s Electric LLC, grew up at 19th Avenue and Buckeye Road in Phoenix, a neighborhood he categorized as “rough” for an elementary-school student.
“I always got picked on and stuff. I was always put to the test,” he says. “At first, I felt like I had to prove to everybody I was no punk, so I joined little gangs. But then I started seeing the bad things happen to my friends. My friends started disappearing, they started getting sick and going to jail, paralyzed, you name it.”
In an effort to cultivate more positive role models, he began boxing.
“The coaches we had, they were pretty good,” Corral says. “They’d always tell you to stay out of trouble. It was a privilege for us to go in the ring, so they would always say, ‘If you get in trouble, you’re not going to go up there.’ ”
He attended Metro Tech High School in west Phoenix, where he entered a construction program that had other at-risk kids. There, he spent four hours in class and four hours in training, while being paid a small stipend every two weeks.
“It was very, very hard for us because we weren’t used to respecting anybody,” he says. “We weren’t used to ‘Thank you, sir.’ None of that.”
Teachers took students to places they had never seen, such as power plants, Corral says. He learned the electrical-wiring trade at Metro Tech, though he says he “started messing around with wires when I was 2 years old.”
He started his south Phoenix business in 2003. And his success has allowed the 33-year-old to help family and friends who have also faced trouble. Several have gone on to start their own businesses.
Corral says he was motivated to be an entrepreneur by his family. “My wife and two kids push me to do the best that I can do,” Corral says. “I have the most beautiful kids in the world and I want them to be proud of me. I want them to know that there is never a reason to ever give up in life, no matter the circumstances.”