Natalia Vorozheykin began her business because she realized there was a growing demand for a construction company that would consistently stay on the top of high quality performance and yield on-time delivery by providing added value, solutions and strong results. Wishing to capitalize on this opportunity, she quickly identified target markets, secured working capital, and advanced to incorporate a full construction operations enterprise, Atlantic Icon, Corp. in 2005.
Natalia admits that she faced multiple challenges entering into the construction industry; although she takes pride in navigating as a successful female CEO in an industry where there were few peers, she offers that it is not an insurmountable achievement.
Natalia determined early on that in order to be accepted in this highly competitive male dominant industry she would have to bring a strong mindset, talent, knowledge and a hard work ethic to the table. She also strongly believes that the remedy to the challenges of being a woman in construction is “to develop your confidence through education,“ says Vorozheykin.
Natalia has invested many years using both her academic achievements and practical expertise for the company’s successful development. While working for other construction firms, Natalia Vorozheykin graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 2002, with B.A. Degree in Management and Information Systems. She explored the construction business using larger scale of operations. Her on-job duties included new construction developments, agreed-upon procedures, internal control and risk assessment evaluations, reserves analysis and engineering studies, projections for special assessments, and budget proposals. She took from it enterprise, industriousness and business acumen to build her vision of a company that could deliver a broad range of construction management and general contracting services to the government marketplace.
“Obtaining the proper knowledge ensures that nothing is a mystery,” said Natalia , and she strongly adheres to that philosophy immersing herself in continuous learning and development as well as constantly broadening her network of resources.
She also believes in surrounding herself with an equally strong team who share the same values and are constantly working to obtain the same goals. Natalia stated that “You cannot negate the human factor.” She and her husband, Valeriy, have worked very hard to establish a strong and committed team of individuals who are extremely dedicated to the Atlantic Icon’s core mission of constantly looking for value, bringing solutions, and providing results. She credits her strong team to a rigorous hiring process and in-depth understanding of team dynamic, that she has developed over the years. Top on her list of requirements, aside from requisite knowledge, is “attitude,” says Vorozheykin. “It is very important to have a positive attitude and a willingness to learn.” She places high importance on looking into the community and obtaining referrals from those you trust prior to bringing anyone on-board.
In 2008, Natalia enrolled in SBA’s 8(a) business development program and was assigned a business opportunity specialist in the SBA South Florida District. Her SBA business opportunity specialist has guided her through the first 7 years of a nine-year program designed to help aspiring small business owners gain a foothold in government contracting. The program is two-phased; the first four years serve as a developmental phase and the final five years are a transition phase at which point the 8(a) business graduates and can stand and compete on their own expertise and reputation. While in the program, a certified 8(a) company can receive sole-source contracts, up to a ceiling of $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing. 8(a) companies are also able to form joint ventures and teams to bid on contracts.
Vorozheykin attributes much of her early success to the assistance of the SBA and the 8(a) business development program for socially and economically disadvantaged businesses. The program assists small businesses to position themselves to compete in the federal marketplace. However, she admits that it was not immediately obvious how the program could assist her firm and help it advance in the highly competitive construction industry.
“Initially, we did not have a clear understanding of how to work with the SBA and utilize our certifications to make the most of contracting opportunities,” says Vorozheykin. “However, when we began working with Jeffery Campbell and the 8(a) contracting department of the SBA, things quickly turned around for us. Jeff and the SBA have been wonderful to work with and they have definitely helped us to take our business to the next level.”
Through working with the SBA business development team, Atlantic Icon gained a better understanding of how to best utilize its certifications and the other benefits of the 8(a) program such as Mentor/Protégé and Joint Venture agreements. Atlantic Icon currently has obtained all of the following certifications, which has greatly improved their positioning and increased their chances of consideration for awards: 8(a), SDB, WOSB/EDWOSB, HUBZone and U.S. DOT DBE certified construction firm.
Since entering into the program in 2008, Atlantic Icon has successfully completed over 22 successful contracts with the Federal government valuing almost $8,000,000.00. Vorozheykin credits this success to the fact that “our primary focus is on government, commercial and public infrastructure development. We make a difference by delivering the contracts and construction projects on time and per budget. Thereafter, we pay attention to the details, and this converts potential into a great opportunity for procurement and business enterprise.”
Because of their reliability, experience and price, Atlantic Icon has been awarded contracts with various divisions of the Federal government including Naval Facilities Engineering Command South East, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Eglin Airforce Base, U.S. Air Force Hurlburt Field, Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Homeland Security Federal Law Enforcement Center in GA, Florida State Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Commerce, and U.S. Department of Transportation.
When asked why their construction firm is now able to successfully compete and obtain larger and more frequent contracts Vorozheykin explained, “Atlantic Icon has proven experience working for the federal government and successfully completing various projects that allow us to perpetuate long- standing relationships with the federal agencies. They know our capabilities and they come back to us with more business.”
Atlantic Icon is now in their second phase of the 8(a) business development program and they certainly can stand and compete on their own expertise and reputation. Vorozheykin has branched out into Joint Ventures and has begun participation in Mentor/Protégé relationships that have greatly benefitted the firm, opening it up to larger scale opportunities and exposure to successful best practices promoted by industry leaders. SBA’s 8(a) Business Development mentor-protégé program is designed to pair up nascent firms that are facing potential development gaps with larger, more experienced firms that can assist in filling those gaps.
Vorozheykin next goal is to have the opportunity to build whole facilities with projected costs in the range of $1 million to $5 million dollars and she is currently on that path, having just been awarded her first contract of this scope for an engineering contract with Patrick Air Force base, in June 2015.
When Natalia Vorozheykin was asked what advice she can give to future small business owners, she thoughtfully conveyed, “We self-perform large portions of works on all of our projects where we care for value, bring solutions, and prove results. Always Remain profitable, support the national economy, and capitalize on the value of a dollar to retain your customers.”
For more information on SBA’s 8(a) business development program and how it helped a small business like Atlantic Icon, Corp. visit: http://www.sba.gov/content/about-8a-business-development-program. You may also contact the SBA’s South Florida District Office by visiting www.sba.gov/fl_south.