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Small Business Owner Finds Success and Growth with 8(a) Program

Two friends Lew Parker and Mitch Caron sought a better way to do business by putting their employees first. In 1991, they founded PC Mechanical Inc. to do just that. Fast forward 19 years to 2010 and Parker, the president and CEO and Caron, the vice president and general manager, are busier than they have ever been primarily because of the loyalty and respect they have earned of their fellow employees and secondly through the assistance of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program.

“We knew that we could treat employees better than we had been treated,” said Parker. In 1990, after Caron completed a grueling 30-day tour in the Republic of Angola for his previous employer - Caron and Parker launched their own full service, multi-disciplined mechanical repair and service company from Parker’s garage.

Using Caron’s pickup truck as the first “company” vehicle, Parker, Caron and a hand full of their previous coworkers crisscrossed Santa Maria, San Ardo and Bakersfield serving oil field equipment. Within a short period of time they moved out of Parker’s garage and into an 8,000 square foot facility in Santa Maria where they operated for 14 years.

In 1996, PC Mechanical applied for the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program to assist in securing government contracts. Parker, a Native American who grew up on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in Idaho was accepted into the rigorous 9-year program.

Using their extensive experience within the service and maintenance industry and their 8(a) certification, they continued to secure numerous government contracts including their largest-to-date a $140 million multi-year military contract they won over competitors worldwide. In June 2009, they began to repair, recondition and maintain thousands of pieces of military equipment including the Navy Seabee’s bulldozers, cranes and generator sets. “The first contract we did like this large one was done seven or eight years ago through the 8(a) program,” said Parker.

Looking back on the success and growth of PC Mechanical, Parker said, “We started a company that caters to employees and that has been the backbone of our company – it worked.” Currently, PC Mechanical has over 50 employees, and offers extremely competitive benefits including a 100% premium paid for employee medical and dental insurance, a lucrative 401K with a 4% match of gross and a cafeteria plan. “Family comes first here, if a family member becomes sick, we let our employees stay home and take care of them and keep them on payroll.”

Parker also attributed PC Mechanical’s success to their 8(a) Business Development Specialist, Catherine Clark, who worked with them during the 9-year program. “Catherine was with me 100% of the way and led me all the way through it. She is very personable, helpful and upfront. The 8(a) program was valuable – it opened the door to get involved in government contracting,” said Parker. PC Mechanical graduated from the 8(a) program in 2005.

In March 2005, PC Mechanical moved out of its previous facility and into a new 67,000 square foot facility in Santa Maria, which they bought. They have also continued to receive numerous awards along the way and recently won Boeing’s “Performance Excellence Award” for gold level performance for their work during 2009 at Vandenberg Air Force Base where they have maintained the launch facilities for 15 years. The award is given to Boeing’s Top 100 Contractors worldwide for meeting and exceeding performance standards for all 365 days of any given year.

Also, they are being recognized as an Outstanding Business at the upcoming Spirit of Small Business Awards held in August by the Pacific Coast Business Times and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Los Angeles District Office.

The company supports community activities with donations to the Highway Patrol Widows and Orphans, Santa Maria Police Department, the Boys and Girls Club and Food Bank Drives. The owners also sponsor along with their employees local sports and activities.

“PC Mechanical is one of our most successful graduates of recent memory and a great example of what the 8(a) Business Development Program can do for small businesses. We are proud to have helped them find their way both as a business and as an extended member of the SBA 8(a) family,” said Stephen J. Olear, acting district director for the Los Angeles district office.

Recently, PC Mechanical was recognized as an outstanding business in North Santa Barbara County at an awards luncheon titled - Spirit of Small Business on Thursday, August 12, 2010 hosted by U.S. Small Business Administration and Pacific Coast Business Times.

Should you require any additional information regarding the SBA’s 8(a) program, please contact Glen Constantino at (818) 552-3235.