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Minority-Owned Business Finds Growth and Success with 8(a) Certification

Originally in the painting business, Jack Roper, now 65 years old, has many years experience in the construction business in Birmingham and St. Petersburg, FL. He owns Southeastern Industrial Construction, a $28 million annual revenue company headquartered in Pelham. He employs roughly 80 employees, but that number grows with job contracts and the use of subcontractors.

Jack is married, and has three grown children.

Some years ago, he owned another company, Roper Painting, now subsumed into his current, larger business. His painting firm was hired to do some subcontract work by a more experienced master contractor. That gentleman asked Jack if he had minority participation. He didn’t although he employed many minority workers. The master contractor’s advice was instrumental in changing Jack’s approach to his business.

When he started his new company, Southeastern Industrial Construction, Roper sought and gained 8(a) certification after his company worked on the Air National Guard complex at the Birmingham Airport. That designation has been since the source of many additional jobs, and an important reason for his company’s success.

“Gaining that designation was one of my most important business decisions,” Jack emphasizes. “Without it, I won’t be anywhere near the success we now have. It literally opened many doors to jobs I won’t have qualified for before we were certified.”

Jack was also quick to credit a close friend who helped him through the rough times of starting his new business. “Without his help, I won’t have been able to even start,” Jack said. “I am indebted to him.”

Southeastern Industrial Construction has since worked on many projects in Alabama. Among them are Legion Field’s renovation and the Anniston Army Depot. Jack’s values permeate the firm’s operations.

“I firmly believe in delivering good work at a fair price and on time,” Roper added. “As a business owner, if you commit yourself to be fair to your customers, they will come back to you for additional work. And that is the source of staying in business for the long haul be fair to your customers, to your employees, and to yourself.”

“Making a killing on any one job is the way some construction firms operate. But that’s not my way,” Jack stressed.

He also credited much of his firm’s success to hiring good people. “I have found I am not the smartest person, but I know how to hire the right people and put them in the right positions,” Roper said.

He follows another rule: be able to get 50 percent of any job’s work done using 25 percent of the money. “That way,” he added, “you have most of the money (75%) for use during any job’s most difficult part, finishing to the customer’s satisfaction.”

Jack was especially grateful for his luck in being in the right place at the right time. We are grateful, too. Southeastern Industrial Construction is an asset to Birmingham and to Alabama. Congratulations on your success story.