Houstonians may remember Reggie Slater when he played basketball for Kashmere High School but many remember Slater when he played professional basketball for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets, and Toronto Raptors. Today Slater is an entrepreneur and the owner of six oil lube businesses in the Houston area and Slaters Sports Zone in Richmond, Texas.
Prior to retiring from pro basketball, Slater prepared for a transition in his career by purchasing an oil lube business in Houston. He later purchased five more lube businesses, some financed with loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Retirement from the hectic basketball player’s lifestyle gave Slater the opportunity to spend more time with his wife and children. While coaching his son’s basketball team, Slater realized there were no sports facilities that can hosts tournaments in south Houston, where he resides. Motivated by the desire to help and encourage young people to better their lives through health, fitness, and sports he built Slater’s Sports Zone in Fort Bend County. Prior to building the sports complex, Slater contacted the Ft. Bend County Small Business Development Center, a resource partner of the SBA, for technical assistance. With the help of Ft. Bend County SBDC Director Joe Decker, Slater was approved for a SBA 504 program loan to help finance the project. The SBA 504 loan program provides long-term, fixed-rate financing for the acquisition of fixed assets for expansion or modernization.
The 63,000 sq. ft. state of the art sports complex, located near a master planned community and schools, offers training in volleyball and basketball, including a strength and conditioning facility and lease space to a martial arts academy. The gym houses 8 volleyball courts, 4 basketball courts, a cafeteria, pro shop and is also available for rent. Slater’s gym is home court to the Fort Bend Fire Volleyball Club. Slater’s Sports Zone employs 75 people and their staff of experienced professionals is committed to providing the best youth sports experience possible while maintaining the standards and values that Slater founded the facility on. “It’s important to have great key employees and I’m blessed to have that at this facility,” said Slater.
Starting a business involves a lot of planning and research. A successful business owner for many years, Slater advises aspiring entrepreneurs to follow their dreams, plan early, and hire good employees. “I enjoy being a business owner and I hope to be able to continue to employ people,” said Slater.
Slater maintains dedicated and committed to helping young people and is also proud to help the community through job creation and local charities. For more information on Slater Sports Zone, visit their facility at 727 Plantation Dr., Richmond, TX 77406 or their website at http://www.slatersportszone.com. For more information on the SBDC and SBA, visit http://www.sbdc.uh.edu and http://www.sba.gov.
Houston based SniperHill Internet Services, LLC was started in 2007 by Wallace Davis and Jerry Hartless. An approved US government contractor, SniperHill provides unlimited commercial Internet solutions to US and Coalition Armed Forces, civilian contractors and International businesses operating on US bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. SniperHill began providing internet services in Iraq in 2007 and in 2010 became the first fiber optic internet provider for the US Armed Forces in Iraq.
Davis and Hartless have a combined 30+ years of specialized computer security and information technology experience. Davis is a US army veteran and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Government Studies and a Master’s in Computer Resources and Information Management. His 12 year military career includes resource management for software upgrades for US army facilities and a lead for ITT Services Corporation in Kosovo. His experiences also include Adjunct Instructor at Maryland University and Information Assurance Manager to the Iraq Theater, where he was responsible for the security of all Multi National Forces Information Systems within the Iraq Theater of Operations. Hartless has a diverse background in Information Technology services. He is a seasoned veteran in incident-handling processes and government security investigation for classified and unclassified information for the Department of Defense. He currently carries an active DOD Secret security clearance, an Information Assurance Computer Network Defense Level 2 certification, and holds certifications in Unix Administration, Microsoft and Spectrum Enterprise Network Management. He has worked abroad with the US Military in Kosovo, Bulgaria, and Macedonia and has served as the Regional Information Assurance Security Officer in Iraq.
In 2011, SniperHill outgrew their corporate headquarters and expanded their company with a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 program loan through Bank of Houston. The SBA 504 program provides long-term, fixed-rate, subordinate mortgage financing for acquisition and/or renovation of capital assets including land, buildings and equipment.
SniperHill is a multi-million dollar company whose customer list includes every branch of the US Armed Forces, US Military contractors, US government contractors, NGOs, governmental organizations and high-profile confidential western clients. They are known for providing world-class enterprise solutions in some of the harshest environments in the world and are proud to have a team of clinically trained and certified network system engineers, highly skilled IT staff, and managers who are dedicated to delivering top notch service.
As an official Army & Air Force Exchange Service concessionaire, they donate a portion of their proceeds to the customer base at every US/NATO Base through a variety of programs designed to improve quality of life, morale and welfare. They are committed to supporting men and women in uniform, hiring many US veterans and giving back to various causes and activities in the local on-base communities they serve.
SBA Loan Helps Local Company Survive Recession
Chief Rufus Davis, a Tribal Chief of the Adai Indian Nation in Louisiana, is the founder and CEO of Chief Solutions, Inc. based in Houston, Texas. Chief Solutions is a technical consulting firm specializing in sewer systems providing mapping of underground utility services, identification of problems in underground infrastructures, and physical inspections of water and wastewater drainage systems. Chief Davis started the company with $1,200.00 in 1985 installing sewer systems and related services with rented equipment. Today, Chief Solutions is an industry leader in sanitary and storm sewer evaluation studies with over 100 employees and field offices in Atlanta, Dallas, Indianapolis, Robeline, and Louisiana.
Although Chief Solutions is now a thriving company, the recession impacted the business like many others. In 2007, Chief Davis updated and replaced nine of his sewer cleaning trucks with brand new trucks and purchased an additional five new trucks to meet the projected workload in 2008. However, in early 2008, Chief Davis realized that the recession was going to affect his business requiring him to reduce his inspection crews from eighteen to nine. The loss in revenues and the additional equipment expense put a significant strain on their cash flow. Finding a lender to restructure the debt served a challenge for Chief Davis. “I checked with several banks during this time and received the same answer - they were not interested in restructuring my loan,” said Chief Davis.
Having attended the Greater Houston Business Procurement Forum for the past 20 years Chief Davis called on its President Milton Thibodaux for help. Thibodaux referred him to a local lender for a Small Business Administration loan. “At that time my perception of the SBA was not a place to restructure my loan but I pursued it, furnished all the necessary information, and was successful in obtaining a $2.5 million dollar SBA loan,” said Chief Davis. The SBA 7(a) program loan reduced his monthly payment by 76%.
Chief Davis is now focusing on the development of his new invention, the Sewer Line Power Generating System (SLPGS). The SLPGS, patented in the United States and abroad, is an innovative hydroelectric generator that captures the power of wastewater and recycles it into electricity. It has the potential to become an important alternative to carbon producing energy. Chief Davis has several other inventions and patents and is always thinking of ideas to keep up with the latest technology in the environment and sanitary engineering industry. He has completed over twenty-seven years of successful evaluation inspection studies of 180+ million feet of storm and sanitary sewer lines.
Chief Davis is also the founder and CEO of three other companies, Chief Contractors, Inc., Chief Southeast, Inc., and Chief Alternative Energy, LLC. Their reputation for professional excellence has earned them many awards and special recognition from various organizations, including the Outstanding Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) Contractor award in 2004 from the City of Houston, the large Business of the Year Award in 2007 and 2008 from the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Texas, the large Business of the Year award in 2007 from the North Texas Regional Certification Agency, and the Minority Contractors Hall of Fame in 2007 from the National Association of Minority Contractors.
In addition to running four companies and serving as Chief of the Adai Indian Nation, his extensive leadership and civic engagements include Vice President on the Board of Directors of the El Camino Real National Trails Association, a Board Member of the President’s Council of Northwestern State University, President of the Saint Anne Catholic Church Finance Council, the Mother Church of the Adai Indian Nation and many others.. He was also appointed by Governor Bobby Jindal to serve on the Advisory Committee of Equal Opportunity Board of the State of Louisiana and has served from 2009 to present.