Small Business Success on the Navajo Reservation: Native Resource Development Company, Inc.

Elvina “Penny” Emerson, a member of the Navajo Nation, earned a degree in Health Services Administration from Northern Arizona University. After that, Penny spent 10 years administering reservation-based community health services. In 1990, following years of listening to medical professionals express frustration, Penny recognized a huge unmet need on the Navajo Nation for transporting elderly and disabled patients to their medical appointments. Penny quit her job and put her education, experience and entrepreneurial spirit to work by starting Native Resource Development Company, Inc. She opened her office in Window Rock, Arizona with just three employees and capitalized it with money raised from selling her Native artwork and withdrawal of her retirement savings. In 1997, Penny moved her business to Gallup, New Mexico. She was soon approached by a business owner wanting to sell his housekeeping service. She acquired the company and added more commercial accounts. She also changed the name of the business to “Reliable Janitorial Services.” In 2003, Penny opened a home health care division known as “Quality Home Care” that provides in-home living assistance to low-income, medically fragile elderly and disabled individuals. This service enables them to remain in their own homes. In synopsis, Native Resource Development Company has three divisions. Each has a general manager who is responsible for day-to-day operations. Native Transportation Services provides non-emergency medical ground transportation for Medicaid eligible patients. Many of these individuals live in remote areas. Roads to their homes are unpaved with little or no road maintenance. Reliable Janitorial Services provides commercial cleaning, construction clean-up and residential cleaning services. Quality Home Care provides individualized home care for Medicaid clients in Arizona and New Mexico. Carefully trained attendants are matched to each client. Penny is the owner and Chief Executive Officer. She holds herself responsible for the overall corporate strategic direction and financial planning. She also monitors the Chief Operating Officer’s job performance, which includes developing the annual operating and financial plan for each division. He also develops performance standards for division managers. As of 2006, Native Resource Development Company, Inc. was certified to participate in the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program. The company was recertified in the HUBZone Program in 2012. Native Resource Development Company, Inc. has new custodial and facilities support accounts in California, Texas and Nevada in addition to its existing facilities in New Mexico and Arizona. The company has had 23 years of growth that is fueled by the good reputation it has earned by consistently meeting customer needs. Most recently, the company has further grown through a six-fold increase in revenues generated by the facilities division from federal contracting activity. Sales in 2012 grossed over $10 million. During the 2013 Small Business Week Awards Luncheon, Penny walked away as the Women in Business Champion of the Year. Native Resource Development Company, Inc. has created 337 jobs as of 2012. Of those employees, 200 plus reside in HubZones and 240 are Native Americans.