Jerome C. Garcia (Retired) completed 23 years of military service, multiple overseas tours and one combat deployment, before deciding to retire. When the economy took a downturn, Jerome and his wife, Michele, took control of their own destiny and started Southwest General Construction (SGC) in February 2009. Jerome had already obtained his general contractors license. Jerome is a civil engineer and a U.S. Army Engineer Officer and Operation Iraqi Freedom War Veteran with substantial experience in military construction and federal service.
SGC is a Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business. Its mission is to perform exceptional general contracting, transportation and building construction in New Mexico and the Southwest United States. Jerome states, “We are determined to become an industry leader.” SGC’s experience includes airfield, railroad, road and building construction and also fencing, grounds maintenance, environmental remediation and well drilling.
The first year (2009) was dedicated to establishing the business, preparing to do work and phasing out of their current full-time jobs. Michele managed a contract with the NM Spaceport America and within this same year SGC won contracts and performed work for El Paso Copper Refinery, USA.
In 2010, Jerome and Michele sought to become certified in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 8(a) Business Development Program. Both worked diligently on the application and it was approved during 2010. Jerome has received further assistance from SBA by participating in SBA’s 7j Training program in 2011 and he attended and graduated from the SBA’s 2012 e200 Emerging Leaders Program.
Once established, the Garcias’ immediate strategy was to begin aggressively marketing their company to take full advantage of their 9-year 8(a) Program term. Being a retired Army Engineering Officer, Jerome had the advantage of understanding the requirements of the Department of Defense Installation and Small Business Specialists, engineers, buyers, and contracting officers.
By the end of 2010, SGC won a sole source set-aside contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs and also a competitive contract with the Bureau of Land Management.
In 2011, SGC won a program management contract with the New Mexico Spaceport and hired an operations director, a superintendent, and part-time secretary. Unique to SGC is its makeup of educated and experienced professionals operating in key positions with the ability to enhance all of its construction and design-build capabilities and provide construction solutions and deliver results in a safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally sound manner.
SGC moved out of its home-based office into a small strip mall in 2011. The company purchased vehicles and office equipment which, along with salaries, began to dip heavily into the previous year’s profits. In fiscal year 2012, SGC ultimately obtained an airfield construction contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, two projects with White Sands Missile Range and one with the U.S. Geological Survey at Kirtland AFB.
In 2012, SGC continued to build its company structure, allowing it to perform more effectively. In fulfilling a commitment to their employees, Jerome and Michele obtained all feasible work possible to meet payroll. They also personally funded several projects. They have been able to maintain staff comprising two project managers, one superintendent, four full-time craftsmen, four part-time laborers, two part-time administrative assistants, a vice-president and a president.
Currently, SGC is committed to performing work for seven federal agencies on 12 contracts. Having completed the balance of last fiscal year’s work, revenues have grown substantially. The Garcias strive to balance staff with the current workload and position themselves for future work.
Jerome states, “Michele and I have been able to spend time together considering that the previous 17 years we spent a lot of time apart. Michele and I share different strengths and together provide an awesome team for obtaining and completing quality work. Both our children work in the business. Shelby assists with Networking and office assistance and Justin assists us with various jobs. We also have to recognize our family and friends who offered their support and encouragement to take on this challenge and work for ourselves.”