All Maintenance is a great example of a Hispanic-owned Alabama company that has flourished with SBA assistance. Adolfo Ruiz relocated his business, All Maintenance, from Miami, FL to Russellville, AL in 2003.At that time, the company's primary service was carpet cleaning and restoration of water damaged dwellings. Later, he expanded his business with commercial accounts rather than residential dwellings. After working for six years to establish the business and overcome the stigma Hispanic businesses faced in the area, Mr. Ruiz decided he needed to expand his business. He approached the University of North Alabama Small BUsiness Development Center for assistance with obtaining financing and to get assistance in breaking into the larger commercial market and establishing regular maintenance accounts to generate steady revenue. He received SBA funding with a $50,000 Community Express Loan through Borrego Springs Bank and the SBDC worked with him to obtain certifications for M.B.E. and DOT DBE. Mr. Ruiz was able to hire two full-time technicians to assist him. Mr. Ruiz continues to contact the UNA SBDC to review marketing materials and assist him in the area of government contracting.
Originally in the painting business, Jack Roper, now 65 years old, has many years experience in the construction business in Birmingham and St. Petersburg, FL. He owns Southeastern Industrial Construction, a $28 million annual revenue company headquartered in Pelham. He employs roughly 80 employees, but that number grows with job contracts and the use of subcontractors.
Jack is married, and has three grown children.
Some years ago, he owned another company, Roper Painting, now subsumed into his current, larger business. His painting firm was hired to do some subcontract work by a more experienced master contractor. That gentleman asked Jack if he had minority participation. He didn’t although he employed many minority workers. The master contractor’s advice was instrumental in changing Jack’s approach to his business.
When he started his new company, Southeastern Industrial Construction, Roper sought and gained 8(a) certification after his company worked on the Air National Guard complex at the Birmingham Airport. That designation has been since the source of many additional jobs, and an important reason for his company’s success.
“Gaining that designation was one of my most important business decisions,” Jack emphasizes. “Without it, I won’t be anywhere near the success we now have. It literally opened many doors to jobs I won’t have qualified for before we were certified.”
Jack was also quick to credit a close friend who helped him through the rough times of starting his new business. “Without his help, I won’t have been able to even start,” Jack said. “I am indebted to him.”
Southeastern Industrial Construction has since worked on many projects in Alabama. Among them are Legion Field’s renovation and the Anniston Army Depot. Jack’s values permeate the firm’s operations.
“I firmly believe in delivering good work at a fair price and on time,” Roper added. “As a business owner, if you commit yourself to be fair to your customers, they will come back to you for additional work. And that is the source of staying in business for the long haul be fair to your customers, to your employees, and to yourself.”
“Making a killing on any one job is the way some construction firms operate. But that’s not my way,” Jack stressed.
He also credited much of his firm’s success to hiring good people. “I have found I am not the smartest person, but I know how to hire the right people and put them in the right positions,” Roper said.
He follows another rule: be able to get 50 percent of any job’s work done using 25 percent of the money. “That way,” he added, “you have most of the money (75%) for use during any job’s most difficult part, finishing to the customer’s satisfaction.”
Jack was especially grateful for his luck in being in the right place at the right time. We are grateful, too. Southeastern Industrial Construction is an asset to Birmingham and to Alabama. Congratulations on your success story.
Keith Pinkerton, owner of Pinkerton Electrical Services, Inc., dba Mr. Electric, quit school at 16 and started work. “I got the bug after my Dad allowed me to help him wire a friend’s house,” Keith said. “After that, I was hooked.” He was only 13 years old at the time.
That was over 25 years ago. He began in earnest doing contract electrical work. He continued to focus on working new construction electrical jobs even when he as established Pinkerton Electrical Services, Inc. in September 1993, using four or five part-timers to help him on jobs.
Meanwhile, Pinkerton held down a full-time job with the City of Huntsville. He ended that 12-year career in 2001 when he realized he had to devote more time to his growing business.
The business continued to flourish. He hired his first full-time employee in 1998. He continued electrical work on new residential construction. He didn’t really have a business plan at the time. “I regret that now because I have seen a better way to do business,” Keith emphasized. “But there was plenty of work at the time.”
Still, he sought a better way to grow his business, not just go from job-to-job. He went out on a limb and brought into a “Mr. Electric” franchise from the Dwyer group from Texas. He hasn’t looked back since. He now owns five franchises. “The WBC and Community Express loans (2 loans totalled some $120,000 in 2005 and 2007) came a little later, and gave me the guidance and money to really plan a growth strategy. It helped with working capital and planning for strategic asset purchases, in other words,” Pinkerton said.
He quickly added: “I must give the Good Lord credit; without Him, I couldn’t have done anything.” Amen, eh?
With this franchise support and help, he now had access to a proven business model centered on trained professionals with integrity and customer focus. Doing exclusively electrical service, remodeling, and electrical repair, Mr. Electric employs 28 employees in the Huntsville area.
It has been wildly successful. “Our growth rate from 2003 to 2008 has been over 40 percent per year,” Keith said. He now has crews throughout the Huntsville metropolitan area. “Right now, we serve the entire area out of one location in Huntsville, but we will be opening satellite offices soon,” he added. Keith has been married to the same woman for 23 years. He and his wife have two children, the oldest in high school. Words of advice for others who might want to start and grow a business? “Absolutely, do a business plan, and stick with it. Make corrections if required, but don’t do it like I did – with no planning at all,” Keith emphasized.
An early affinity for working, sparked by a father’s teaching, and then years of experience pushing part-time crews while holding two jobs. Then, taking a chance and quitting the steady job to devote himself to growing what had become a successful business…and eventually getting the planning help and money he needed all along from the Womens’ Business Center (WBC), from the Small Business Administration (SBA), and others. Is this the recipe for success? For Keith Pinkerton it has been.
Congratulations to Keith Pinkerton and to Huntsville’s Mr. Electric franchise. You have made your community and the SBA proud.