NEW YORK - Samuel Cruz, 44, left El Salvador at the age of 19 with $200 in his pocket and a dream. When he arrived to New York, Sam knew he had to work. He was expecting his first child and had to provide.
"I did landscaping, worked in restaurants, I worked washing trucks, I worked cleaning vegetables in supermarkets, I worked at separating garbage at a landfill," he said.
He decided to take a chance and opened his own landscaping business. It didn't last long. He failed. Cruz moved on and ventured into mechanic work. He failed again.
"Then I got my own truck and had two bad accidents. One was horrible it almost killed me," he said. "Because of that I ended up driving a taxi cab in Brentwood -- back to zero again."
While driving a taxi he landed a job as a truck driver at a trucking company in Melville, Long Island.
"My boss was a great, great man and he gave me the opportunity not only to drive but to do landscaping for him during the daytime," Sam said.
He used the truck to do some side jobs. Power washing other trucks.
"That opportunity to wash trucks led me to wash trucks for other companies and I landed a contract with the city, actually it was Amtrak washing the overpasses," Sam said.
That contract opened some doors. And with a loan from a friend, he was able to buy that trucking company in 2011, renaming it KBG Logistics, based in Bay Shore. It is now one of the biggest transportation companies in New York.
"I started this as a small company, literally one truck, and I grew it," Sam said. "We now have over 100 trucks out and over 200 trailers. We handle large accounts such as UPS, Amazon and all those guys."
He handles over 3,000 accounts, and KBG Logistics is in several states.
Did he ever imagine he would accomplish all this, coming with $200 and now having a company making millions?
Sam said that when he was a kid, his family would say that he was going to be a low-level package carrier.
"I think they hit the nail right on the head," he said. "It's just that I don't transport a bag or two. We transport millions of them every single day."
Has he achieved the American dream?
"I think the American dream is being able to have your own business, buy your own house, have a great style of life but it's also mercy for others. I think this country gave me an opportunity to grow. It gave me an opportunity to become someone." Sam said. "It was always a dream to come here. When I was little I used to look at the moon and say I'm going to see that moon one day from the United States. I knew it, it was that gut feeling you have, and I sure did.
Sam said he wants to expand his business. In the next few years, KBG Logistics will be going international. The first two countries of distribution will be Mexico and Canada.