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Closing the Door on a Dream Opens the Doors to Many More in Oregon

Cecil DelaCruz

Situation
In 2002, Cecil DelaCruz was one of a handful of engineers and technicians tasked to oversee the shutdown of a fabrication facility when months before he was overseeing its construction. His employer was a major semi-conductor manufacturer in Portland, Oregon, which had become the latest victim of the dot-com bubble of 2000. Although he came from a mechanical engineering background, the experience Cecil gained managing the construction of the facility would have a lasting impact on the direction he would take for his future. The question he had to answer was, what comes next?

Cecil answered that question by registering the name of his future company with the state of Oregon as Viking Engineering + Construction, which was inspired by his alma mater of Portland State University and his twin passions – Engineering and Construction. All he had at this point was a company name and a dream that someday it would be a reality. That dream would have to wait as Cecil spent the next nine years working for several construction firms.

In 2011, after an opportunity to purchase a construction company from their retiring employer fell through, Cecil and his colleague, Jack Kiperman, were ready to chart a new course for themselves. Over a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop, the two agreed to partner together and bring Viking Engineering + Construction to life. Forming the company on paper was the easy part. Bringing on new customers and finding new opportunities would be their next hurdle on their entrepreneurial journey.

Solution
Cecil learned about the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program soon after registering his company in 2002. He knew this program would eventually be central in helping the company grow as it sought to compete in the U.S. Federal Government contracting marketplace. After several years of building capacity to take on larger and more complex jobs, the company applied for and was accepted into the program in 2015. The SBA 8(a) Program is a nine-year program offering a broad scope of assistance to firms owned and controlled at least 51 percent by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

As effects of COVID-19 emerged, the business was faced with uncertainty as the economy took a momentary pause to fully assess the effects of the pandemic. With the help of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), an SBA-backed loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis, and an SBA COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), the company was able to keep its team employed, and the lights turned on.

Impact
What started as a dream nearly two decades ago has grown to a company of 45 team members focused on the healthcare, government, high tech, and industrial sectors. Viking’s customers include federal agencies such as the Department of Defense, Army Corps of Engineers, General Services Administration, U.S. Forest Service, major healthcare organizations as well state and municipal agencies. The 8(a) Program has helped the company to grow its revenue by approximately 30 percent and the company has completed complex projects spanning as far north as Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island in Washington to as far south as Fort Huachuca in Sierra Nevada, Arizona. In August 2021, the company celebrated it’s 10-year anniversary since officially opening it’s door’s for business.