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Entrepreneurial Airman serves community through business startups

Senior Airman Daniel Gonzalez Hernandez, a services journeyman with the 118th Force Support Squadron, checks inventory in the storeroom on October 14, 2018 at Berry Field Air National Guard Base, Nashville, Tennessee.

Senior Airman Daniel Gonzalez Hernandez, a services journeyman with the 118th Force Support Squadron, checks inventory in the storeroom on October 14, 2018 at Berry Field Air National Guard Base, Nashville, Tennessee. Gonzalez Hernandez, who owns and runs a videography business in his civilian life, said that the customer service skills he acquired in the military help him immensely in managing his business. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Anthony Agosti)

A behind the scenes photo of a Tennessee wedding taken by Senior Airman Daniel Gonzalez Hernandez in 2018.

A behind the scenes photo of a Tennessee wedding taken by Senior Airman Daniel Gonzalez Hernandez in 2018. Gonzalez Hernandez owns and runs a videography and photography business that focuses heavily on weddings. (Courtesy photo by U.S. Air National Guard Senior Airman Daniel Gonzalez Hernandez)

Senior Airman Daniel Gonzalez Hernandez, a services journeyman with the 118th Force Support Squadron, checks inventory in the storeroom on October 14, 2018 at Berry Field Air National Guard Base, Nashville, Tennessee.

Senior Airman Daniel Gonzalez Hernandez, a services journeyman with the 118th Force Support Squadron, checks inventory in the storeroom on October 14, 2018 at Berry Field Air National Guard Base, Nashville, Tennessee. Gonzalez Hernandez, who owns and runs a videography business in his civilian life, said that the customer service skills he acquired in the military help him immensely in managing his business. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Anthony Agosti)

Nashville, Tennessee -- When Airmen go to a dining facility, they typically don’t think about the civilian lives of people serving and preparing their food.

Yet for one services Air National Guardsman at the 118th Wing, his title in the civilian world is simply the boss.

“Civilian side, as far as work, right now, I am a full-time business owner,” said Senior Airman Daniel Gonzalez Hernandez, a services journeyman with the 118th Force Support Squadron. “I run a video production company, and we mainly focus on wedding films, but we also do photography or family portraits.”

Gonzalez Hernandez, who has been interested photography and videography as a hobby since he was 14, said he received the spark to start a business around it from a friend in May 2017.

“He was getting married in June of last year,” said Gonzalez Hernandez. “And he said ‘I know you do this as a hobby, do you think you can film my wedding?’”

Gonzalez Hernandez decided to help his friend and posted his work from the wedding to his social media accounts. He started getting interest in
his services almost immediately.

“I was getting messages and calls, and from that point on we were booked all the way through the rest of [2017] and this year we’re booked up through December,” said Gonzalez Hernandez. “And I already have some all the way through October [2019].”

Gonzalez Hernandez said that he has a specific group that he tailors his business to.

“We have packages that cater to the low-budget grooms and brides,” said Gonzalez Hernandez. “It’s been a blessing honestly, being able to help people, especially who are in the lower budget rack.”

While most people would be content with running one successful business, Gonzalez Hernandez’s entrepreneurial spirit appeared again after experiencing tragedy.

In 2018 both of his grandfathers passed away. One of them had life insurance, one did not.

“When [my grandfather] died, he did not have life insurance, and I saw what it did to my family. I saw my grandma, my aunts, my uncles, my mom struggle just to pay funeral costs,” said Gonzalez Hernandez. “When my other grandfather died later this year, he was fine, he had all that lined up. My grandma, his wife, didn’t have to worry too much about the financial aspect of him dying.”

“I saw the difference it made when you do have that stuff,” said Gonzalez Hernandez. “That’s really what got me into doing financial advising.”

With the desire to enter the financial advising world in place, Gonzalez Hernandez needed direction on how to proceed. He got that direction in July 2018 while on TDY at March Air Reserve Base, California.

“I actually have my own financial services business,” said Staff Sgt. Luke Sigmon, a services craftsman with the 118th FSS who went on the same TDY as Gonzalez Hernandez. “We were going to Los Angeles, and we were just sitting in the back of the car chatting it up. He actually asked me more about the company, and I went and told him. He essentially said he wanted to join that day.”

Sigmon connected Gonzalez Hernandez to the right people, and Gonzalez Hernandez is now on track to open his second business in the near future.

“I am in the process of getting all my licenses ready, and hopefully by the end of this year I will be able to help people not only with insurance but also with their financial future,” said Gonzalez Hernandez. “Hopefully I will be able to help and educate people because we really need it, my generation, I know they need it.”

Wanting to help and serve people requires certain skill sets. Gonzalez Hernandez said he acquired these skills in his National Guard role.

“Customer service was a big thing for me. We got to help our clients and we got to make sure they are happy,” said Gonzales Hernandez. “I use some of those skills from the military for the customer service side.”

“He is someone who is dependable, so you can definitely count on him to do whatever he says he’s going to do,” said Sigmon. “If you don’t have that trait, you aren’t going to succeed in business and life in general.”

Even with his second business venture in the works, Gonzalez Hernandez still has an eye to the future for starting additional companies, while keeping the Air Force core values in mind.

“I have this nature of wanting to help people. One of my goals in life is to own several businesses,” said Gonzalez Hernandez. “I would definitely love to own at least four or five businesses where I can give people jobs as well as help people.”

“I know him well enough to know he practices integrity, he does the right thing for people,” said Sigmon. “He wants to look out for people.”