Pensacola, FL – John Steadham, President of Grand Coastal Builders, Inc. (GCB), operates a highly successful construction business that almost closed its door in 2009. Steadham, a member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, obtained 8(a) certification from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for his business in August of 2009. Steadham applied for the certification as the last effort to save his business from the devastating effects of several storms, a housing industry collapse, and a major oil-spill.
The 8(a) Business Development Program is an important resource for small businesses seeking business development assistance. Named for Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act, this program was created to help small and disadvantaged businesses compete in the marketplace. It also helps these companies gain access to federal and private procurement markets. For more information on 8(a) certification, visit SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Website
Steadham grew up next to the Poarch Creek Reservation in Alabama and has worked in the construction industry since high school. He attended Florida State University and obtained a degree in Interior Design with an emphasis on architecture and marketing. Steadham started the construction business in 2004, somewhat as homage to his Great-Grandfather who built the first school on the reservation. GCB started specializing in high-end residential renovation. The company was doing well until the real estate industry on the Gulf Coast of Florida was adversely impacted by several tropical storms that caused flooding and wide-scale damage to beaches and homes in 2009. In April of 2010, the area was again impacted by a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Tourism and real estate were two industries greatly impacted on the Florida Panhandle.
It was at the suggestion of a fellow Creek Indian that Steadham applied for 8(a) certification, and it was a decision that helped to change the course of the business. Steadham changed his business model from residential renovation to commercial construction. It was not an easy change, but Steadham participated in trainings and conferences in an effort to market himself to the government.
The company’s first contracting job was to build a gazebo for $7,000 at NAS Jacksonville, which cost the company $9,000 to build. Steadham viewed the contract as an opportunity to get started in the government contracting arena. From that first contract, the company has grown to over $7 million in sales for Fiscal Year 2014, and is projecting $26 million in sales for Fiscal Year 2015. The company was awarded a $3 million dollar contract to restore and preserve the Chapel at NAS Pensacola in 2012, which Steadham says has been the most gratifying job due to the amount of detailed work required. GCB received a merit safety award presented by NAS Pensacola for this project.
Steadham credits his growth to marketing himself to federal agencies, his dedication to safety at a higher standard than is required by the federal government, and the support of his Business Opportunity Specialist, Thaddeus Hammond, at the SBA.
Steadham also worked with Laura Subel, Director of the Florida Technical Procurement Assistance Center (PTAC) at the University of West Florida to learn more about government contracting. The PTAC is a part of the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network. The SBDC is a resource partner for the Small Business Administration, and together the entities provide counseling, training, and technical assistance to small businesses. For more information, visit the PTAC or SBDC websites.
When not working, Steadham and his wife dedicate their time to Waterfront Rescue Mission, a spiritual based mission devoted to helping the homeless and those with drug and alcohol addiction.
John Steadham, President of Grand Coastal Builders, Inc., can be reached at 6706 N 9th Ave Pensacola, FL 32504 or at (850) 712-8775.
Pictured: NASP Commanding Officer Capt. Keith Hoskins (second from left) helps cut the ribbon during rededication service Feb 28 for the Naval Aviation Memorial Chapel. With Hoskins are the NASP Command Chaplin Cmdr. Steven “Todd” Orren (second from right). NASP Public Works Officer Cmdr. Jeff Deviney (right) and John Steadham (left), President of Grand coastal Builders.