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.
Frank’s Nursery Grows with SBA Loan
Frank and Rosalba Nunez are the owners of Frank’s Nursery- Richmond Garden Center in Richmond, Texas. Frank’s Nursery was established in 2001 and offers a wide variety of plants, trees, shrubs, soil, fertilizer, stone, pottery, and sculptures. The nursery also offers landscaping services and sits on 14 acres, which was acquired with the help of an SBA guaranty loan.
Frank’s business is very successful today but his beginnings were very humble. Frank left his home in Mexico at the age of sixteen to pursue what many immigrants come to the United States for, the American Dream. Frank couldn’t speak English and took on any job he could get. He worked as a day laborer in the construction industry and as a dishwasher and busboy in restaurants. He later landed a job at a landscaping company where he honed his skills for his nursery business. When the owner of the landscaping company passed away, Frank contacted the company’s clients and offered to continue providing them landscaping service. He operated this business from his home for six years.
Frank realized that in order to grow his business he needed to improve his English and began taking classes at night. He also took business and tax courses at Houston Community College and H & R Block. In 1997, he purchased a nursery business in Richmond, Texas. After three years of operating the nursery on leased land, Frank was ready to expand the business. In 2000, after being turned down by eleven banks, Frank sought help from the Fort Bend Small Business Development Center to prepare financial documents. The SBDC also helped him secure a SBA guaranty loan for $175,000 to purchase seven acres of land to move his nursery business. Frank paid the loan off early and secured another bank loan to purchase an additional seven acres, expanding the business property to fourteen acres. Frank & Rosalba’s children also work at the nursery and are trained in sales, inventory, and customer service. The nursery currently employs fifteen people and is open seven days a week.
Frank is an advocate for the Small Business Development Center and SBA, referring many people who are interested in starting a business or need financial assistance. Frank and his family support many local charities and are actively involved with their church. Frank and Rosalba are the winners of the 2011 SBA Houston District, Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Business Award.
For more information about Frank’s Nursery, visit their location at 302 FM 359, Richmond, TX 77406 or their website at http://www.franks-nursery.com Information about the SBDC and SBA can be found at http://www.sbdc.uh.edu and http://www.sba.gov.
Young Entrepreneur Expands Business in Houston and Beyond
Young entrepreneur Masroor Fatany started Sears Garage Solutions of Houston in 2009 at the age of 22. Sears Garage Solutions is a Sears franchise that provides repair and installation services and offers a full line of garage doors and accessories.
Masroor’s exposure to entrepreneurship came at the early age of 10 when he frequently accompanied his father on service calls in his air conditioning business. He later worked in another family business in retail packaging and shipping. While attending college he and his father launched Unlimited Calling, Inc. selling pre-paid Cricket wireless products. They expanded the business and now have 6 locations.
After graduating from Texas A&M with a bachelor’s in accounting and a Master’s in Finance, Masroor worked as an Assurance and Advisory Associate at Ernst and Young. In less than a year, he realized he wanted to be a full time entrepreneur and began his search for a business idea. His search took him to Sears where he was chosen among 30+ applicants. He started the business with the help of a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Masroor also utilized the services of the University of Houston Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a resource partner of the SBA, that provides assistance to small businesses. Always looking for ways to improve and grow his business, he took advantage of all the services the SBDC offered, including research in their library, training classes, counseling, procurement and technical assistance, and the Professional Services Network of providers.
Upon completion of the Sears franchise training, Masroor hired one technician and committed himself to learn every aspect of the business. He launched an aggressive on-line marketing plan, and implemented an innovative customer service and scheduling system. His business covers 4 territories in Houston with a recent addition in San Antonio, where he turned the struggling location around increasing sales to over 500% in less than a year. Masroor hired an additional 6 technicians to accommodate his rapid growth rate and after his first full year in operation, was recognized by Sears Home Services Garage Solutions as the fastest growing franchise in 2010 and the 4th largest franchise (out of 45 Sears franchises) in the network. He was distinguished as the youngest owner to run the fastest growing franchise across the entire Sears franchise network covering carpet cleaning, garage solutions and home services.
Now at the age of 25, Masroor continues to develop his mentoring skills and keeps active in business organizations. He is a member of the Advisory Board for Sears’ franchises and is a member of the Greater Houston Partnership-Business Leadership Council, Texas State CPAs and Private Equity and Venture Group. Masroor is the 2012 SBA Houston District Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Sears Garage Solutions of Houston is located at 1331 Gessner Dr., Houston, TX 77055. For more information, visit their website at http://www.searsoverheaddoorhouston.com/. For information about SBA and the UH SBDC’s programs and services, visit http://www.sba.govand http://www.sbdc.uh.edu.