Today, Joni Anderson is a successful entrepreneur, the CEO of Anderson Burton Construction Inc., a family operated general contractor based in California. Joni and her son Fletcher Burton oversee more than 100 employees working on construction projects in New York, California, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, and Hawaii and Alaska.
But success didn’t happen overnight for Joni, and the process of getting there is part of what makes her a success story. 37 years ago, Joni, 21 at the time, was pregnant with her son Fletcher when her husband Tim had a significant construction accident. Tim was a carpenter, and while framing on a jobsite he fall from 8ft landing on the back of his head. Sustaining severe brain damage, he was in a coma and hospitalized for close to a year. The accident left Joni with a newborn son, and a husband who needed round the clock care. In order to keep them close to her, Joni decided to renovate an old home, and then resell it. She set up a nursery in the house for baby Fletcher and a safe comfortable place for Tim who needed intensive assistance. Joni hired tradespeople to make the repairs to the house and worked alongside them. She watched and learned what they were doing. Little by little, Joni mastered a number of construction trades, and became an expert at doing her own repairs. She started buying and renovating properties, then selling them at a profit. 3 years after Tim’s accident Joni and Tim had their baby girl Tori.
Slowly, Joni began to use her construction skills to support her family. She started “The Chick Crew” – a group of her girlfriends who wanted to work with Joni on her construction projects. Under Joni’s leadership, they learned the trades, and Joni’s new company began to do grow. “The Chick Crew” became in high demand for construction projects, so Joni got her General Contractor’s license and began doing larger jobs including projects for the local cities and counties. In the meantime, Nine years after Tim’s accident, Joni remarried a wonderful man named Craig, who helped her with the care and support of Tim and their 2 kids. One year later they grew their family when their son Cody was born.
In 1999, shortly after Fletcher graduated school, Joni and her son Fletcher founded Anderson Burton Construction. They started bidding on larger projects, and became well known. Then, in 2008 the economy tanked. In the span of two months, Anderson Burton which had grown to over 300 people, doing construction work across the Central Coast of California, were forced to lay off all but five of their employees. The bank called in their line of credit, some of their clients who owed Joni money couldn’t pay them for work that had been performed so Anderson Burton was forced to sell everything they owned: equipment, vehicles, tools, in order to pay what was due when the bank called. Joni recalled this being a very difficult time both personally and professionally.
Joni and her three children, who all worked at the company, worried about what would happen to all of them. Craig had just retired from his 30 year career with the phone company, they were concerned about losing their home, which had been pledged as collateral for one of the bank loans they were working to pay. She was worried about the 295 employees she’d had to let go, and she was uncertain what would happen to her children who were still working at the business, although barely hanging on.
In order to find work, Fletcher and Joni took the last of their savings, got on a plane, and flew to Afghanistan with the hope to find work on the U.S. Military Bases. They landed an opportunity to be a subcontractor at Bagram Air force Base. Unfortunately the Prime Contractor who they were working with wasn’t able to perform on the project. Joni and Fletcher left Afghanistan without being able to do any work. However, that experience taught Joni a great deal about government contracting.
While Joni, Fletcher, and the rest of the family worried about what was going to come next for Anderson Burton Construction, SBA was able to provide assistance to the company. First, Joni qualified for an SBA guaranteed line of credit which gave Anderson Burton the capital they needed to keep their business open when no other banks were lending. Next, they were accepted into the 8a program. 8a certification helped Joni stabilize their company, and acceptance into the program was an important turning point for Anderson Burton.
First, it gave them opportunities to market themselves to the Federal Government which landed them some work to keep their heads above water. Anderson Burton performed very well on their projects and began growing again significantly. They began their 8a tenure while the Federal government was awarding projects under ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) and completed several ARRA jobs.
Secondly, it provided them with strong relationships with Federal government contracting officers. Joni says that a great deal of their Federal projects are for repeat customers who contract with Anderson Burton again and again because of their quality, pricing, and excellent customer service. Over the last seven years, since obtaining their 8a certification, Anderson Burton has been able to hire back many of the staff they laid off during the recession. They are working on projects in seven different states. The company has just over 100 employees, and is once again financially stable.
Today, Anderson Burton is a successful woman owned, 8a, family involved company. With Fletcher handling marketing, business development, and estimating, youngest son Cody managing projects on several military bases, and Joni who leads the project management department, safety, and finance oversight, Anderson Burton is in good hands. Even Joni’s first husband, Tim is part of the company. Still profoundly disabled, he comes to their office on Mondays and goes on site visit too, providing powerful testimony to employees on the importance of workplace safety. The whole family lives nearby and shares the oversight of Tim’s care.
In recognition of the scope, scale, and quality of the Federal work Anderson Burton has done, in 2015, they were selected as the Prime Contractor of the Year for SBA Region IX. Joni said she was stunned by this honor, thrilled to share it with her son, and honored to receive this recognition. Joni also recognizes the value of the assistance she’s received from SBA: her 8a certification, Woman Owned Small Business certification, and the SBA financing that kept her company during a difficult time.
Working together, Joni and Fletcher are planning for the future, and starting to prepare for the end of their 8a certification in the next two years. Joni says that they are taking what they’ve learned in the program, marketing like crazy, trying to be diversified, going after not only Federal, but also State, local, utility, and other industries. Joni is also considering a mentor protégé agreement in the future in order to pass on some of the valuable information she’s learned. Anderson Burton’s success today is built on a solid foundation of family, overcoming obstacles, and many years of hard work. And it’s the recipe for continued success in the years to come.