Irineo Capetillo knows what it’s like to navigate through the birth, emergence and subsequent struggles of a business that even in success, needs assistance if it hopes to see further growth.
Going into 2019, Capetillo knew his Kapal Industries had outgrown its Donna facility. He also needed a second facility to expand his cabinet making and countertops manufacturing operations. The early search for a second facility in the Rio Grande Valley appeared to be hopeless. Capetillo looked at a likely expansion into Mexico before meeting with the Economic Development Corporation of Weslaco.
He listened to a package of incentives, insights and assistance the Weslaco EDC could provide. Capetillo would then revise his thinking and decide to occupy an 80,000-square-foot building that once housed a pants-making factory. Capetillo will invest more than $1 million into the Weslaco facility, making it ready for 30 employees to manufacture cabinets for multifamily units and the hospitality/hotel industry.
Kapal opened in Weslaco in April 2019 and added a second distinction later that year. The Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism announced in late October 2019 that it approved a Texas enterprise project designation for Kapal. It was a designation achieved through the assistance of the Weslaco EDC, which submitted the company’s application to the state. Kapal will now receive sales and use tax refunds though Sept. 3, 2024.
“We’re very excited,” Capetillo said. “Our relationship with the (Weslaco) EDC has helped us to get where we are. Without them, we would have moved our manufacturing elsewhere.”
The story of Kapal is one of a business that started in Donna with three employees – Capetillo, his wife and one worker. The company’s name is a variation of his full name – Irineo Capetillo Alvarez. The Rio Bravo native changed the C in Capetillo to K. He came up with a catchy short name that he says has become his calling card.
“Everyone calls me Mr. Kapal,” he said with a broad smile. “It’s OK. I’ve worked hard at it.”
He launched Kapal with the staff of three in the Great Recession of 2008. He then almost went broke in 2010, selling his house to keep the business float. Capetillo began to see business life around 2012 and has steadily built from there. Now he’s straining to keep up with growth and demand. He began to find it untenable to house both his cabinet making and countertop manufacturing in Donna. The EDC’s help led him to Weslaco, where he plans to house all of his cabinet-making operations.
The state’s enterprise project designation and its refunds will help Capetillo tend to what he sees as Kapel’s three foundations – infrastructure, resources and people. The rebates provided by the state will give resources to Kapal to help in its ongoing move of cabinet-making operations to Weslaco, along with funds for training and investing in new equipment.
Capetillo is seeing in real time how the investment scenarios promoted by the Weslaco EDC are playing out in the community. The local suppliers Kapal turns to for air compressors and other items he needs helps everyone in Weslaco, he said.
“You see how the money and resources circulates and is invested in the community,” he said. “We’re not the only ones who will benefit (from state rebates).”