HILLSIDE, NJ---Janey and Ray Hamlett know a thing or two about building and managing their success. The African-American husband and wife team are the owners of Hamlett Contractors and Hamlett Management LLC of Hillside. Both companies provide general contracting and property management services to its customers.
Janey and Ray started the businesses back in 2002. Prior to starting their companies, Janey was a social worker at a residential center for children and Ray had worked in real estate. However, they both had the idea of venturing out on their own. Janey received her real estate and broker’s license and concentrated on managing properties, while Ray, with his talent for construction, concentrated on the contracting side of the business. They started off by buying a two family house, rehabbing and renovating it, and managing it.
Their first big client was the City of Newark’s Housing Department, where they rehabbed and weatherized properties. Soon, other clients would follow. However, before Hamlett Management and Hamlett Contractors,LLC could grow Janie and Ray realized they needed assistance and guidance to bring their companies to the next level. That’s when they turned to the business counseling and training programs of the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (SBDC).
“We utilized training and counseling programs at both Rutgers University in Newark and the Kean University SBDCs,” said Janie. “We participated in the Entrepreneurship Pioneer Initiative at Rutgers, which was invaluable to helping us understand how to manage the day- to-day operations of our businesses.”
The Hamlets received additional assistance from Fred Dominguez of the Kean University SBDC. It was there that the couple received help in obtaining bonding, which is critical to companies looking to bid on larger construction projects. Ray and Janey worked with other counselors to receive certifications in the state’s Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Small Business Enterprise (SBE) programs, as well as the state’s Public Works Contractors certification, Division of Property Management Construction certification and the School Construction-Pre–Qualification certification.
“The U.S. Small Business Administration is pleased to contribute the main source of funding to the 11 Small Business Development Centers located throughout New Jersey,” said SBA’s New Jersey District Director Alfred Titone. “It is clear that our investment in each SBDC and our partnership with the state of New Jersey is paying dividends to local small business owners like Janey and Ray Hamlett. The counseling and training that the Hamletts have received from the SBDCs go a long way in helping them to compete for work in an extremely competitive marketplace.”
Currently, the Kean University SBDC is helping the Hamletts with an application for SBA’s 8(a) certification, which allows socially and economically disadvantaged firms to compete and gain access to contracting opportunities through federal government agencies. The Hamletts have also taken an advantage of an SBA MicroLoan of $10,000 that they received from UCEDC in 2009 to help expand their business.
Today, the company has six employees and is a full service general contracting and construction management firm that specializes in building renovations, alterations and weatherization/retrofit projects, while providing its clients with energy auditing, conservation services, drywall, painting, wall covering, carpet, flooring and tile installation, as well as electrical, plumbing, HVAC, roofing and waterproofing.
The company has worked with clients like the Episcopal Community Development Neighborhood Stabilization Program in Irvington, the United Auto Workers in Edison, HUD in Newark and the La Casa de Don Pedro in Newark..
On the property management side, the company offers its clients rent collection, tenant screening, marketing and leasing, interior and exterior maintenance on premise, 24-hour emergency services, vacancy showings, landlord/tenant relations, evictions, safety and environmental services, monthly email accounting reports, and supervision of all remodeling and repairs.
“Since we started 10 years ago, we have managed, rehabbed and sold 114 residential units,” said Janey. “We are growing and we see that our business is on the right track. We owe a great deal of thanks to the Rutgers and Kean University Small Business Development Centers as well as UCEDC for putting us in a position to grow and succeed.”
The guidance that the Hamletts have received from the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers is allowing the couple to continue to build and manage their success. “We have big expectations for the Hamletts,” said Titone. “It is evident that the time SBDC counselors have invested in this company is starting to pay off. It is further proof that business counseling programs from the SBDCs and financing from non-profit economic development corporations like UCEDC are vital to small business growth and that they are continuing to aid economic development in communities throughout New Jersey.”