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Entrepreneur Ensures it’s “All Systems Go” at Local Facilities

Entrepreneur Ensures it’s “All Systems Go” at Local Facilities

SBA Assistance Helps Local Firm Grow

 

VALENCIA, PA – Twice, a frantic Brenda Henwood dialed 911 for emergency assistance, grateful for the rapid response and peace of mind she received.

Today, Henwood works alongside the 911 call dispatchers she admires so much. Now the owner of Henron Electrical Resources has an office at the new Allegheny County 911 Call Center, since she was recently awarded a project management contract for the county’s new, state-of-the-art, 67,000-square-foot facility.

“We’re so grateful to be assisting because we’re talking about lives and people calling with a crisis,” Henwood explained. “The center employees rely on a system and its components never going down; that’s now our 24/7 responsibility.”

The contract, allowing Henwood to employ a 12-person team, is a crowning achievement spanning a four-year relationship with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Western Pennsylvania District Office.

“When I started my business five years ago, I had so many questions and people kept telling me ‘you need to meet the SBA,’ ” she said. “I had never heard of the SBA, but for the past four years, they’ve helped me so much especially with their 8(a) and other contracting programs.”

The SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program is a nine-year program assisting socially and economically disadvantaged individuals develop and grow their businesses through one-on-one counseling, training workshops and match-making opportunities with federal buyers.

“My team assisted Brenda with an application to join our 8(a) business development program,” explained SBA Pittsburgh Deputy District Director Regina Abel. “She was accepted into the program and began bidding and winning contracts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”

It’s a far cry from her humble beginnings starting a bedroom-based one-woman project management business, specializing in mechanical and electrical maintenance and testing. The bare-bones operation consisted of an email address and modest savings account. Henwood soon turned that email account into instant business receiving quote requests from past industry counterparts.

“I brought 20 years of on-the-job experience,” she explained. “My contacts recognized this and wanted to use my expertise in the safety, compliance and testing fields.”

Business was so brisk; Henwood moved operations into the family garage. She assembled a team of volunteer associates, placing everyone on payroll within months.

 

And, Henwood didn’t stop her SBA relationship with contracting. She soon enrolled in the agency’s Emerging Leaders executive-level training course, spending seven months working both in and on her business.

“Emerging Leaders is an SBA initiative that equips key decision makers with knowledge, tools and a three-year growth plan to advance their businesses to the next level,” Abel added. “Brenda logged more than 100 hours working on her business and as a peer counselor. More importantly, she made those key contracting connections.”

Henwood agrees that Emerging Leaders is great for small business owners. “I gained so much from that class,” she said. “I was grateful because it was all free and I had little money set aside for training.”

Through the SBA and her 8(a) contracts, Henwood became aware of Pennsylvania’s Unified Certification Program. Henwood pursued this path for disadvantaged business enterprise certification, enabling her to bid on U.S. Department of Transportation projects to include: federal roads; buses; rails; bridges; and airports. Using their new UCP certification, Henron Electrical Resources landed a multi-year contract maintaining the electrical distribution and testing at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport.

“Under all the pretty façade is the heartbeat of the building with veins pushing the power out to signage and air traffic controllers,” she explained.

“If those cables fail, then everything is down, from communication to planes to restaurant staff being able to cook,” she added. “We continually inspect and maintain their system ensuring no one sits on the runway.”

Henwood’s presence at the airport mirrors that of the new 911 Call Center. “We’re an extension,” she said. “We’re there to makes sure day-to-day operations are seamless.”

 

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Company Name: 
Henron Electrical Resources
Location: 
Valencia