Since she was a young teen, entrepreneur Regina Lettau has had an inner motivation to work and absorb lessons from others. Now at the age of 29, her years of listening and learning have paid off.
Regina owns and operates her own general contracting business which employs 17 people and has done more than $20 million in projects during its five years in business. The business is stable and growing with the best year so far topping at $8 million in work.
Growing up in an entrepreneurial environment, Regina learned how to set her own personal standards and become a leader from her father and other family members who owned their own businesses.
To be the boss herself, Regina started her own business, National Native American Construction (NNAC), in 2009 as a young mom who felt it her highest priority to begin something that would support her and her two-year-old daughter. “I knew it would be hard work and it would have its challenges, which it definitely has, but it was up to me to provide for us, and I was determined to make the most of it the best I could.”
Regina decided on construction for a number of reasons, including her father’s experience in the industry, but also because it was the kind of business where she had the “ability to see and feel what she built.”
She started small and still laughs about her first project. “It was an $8,500 carpet and paint job. I really did not know what I was doing but the contracting officers at the General Services Administration helped walk me through the process the first time,” Regina said. “I got the project and actually surprised myself and made some money.”
In addition to family mentors, Regina credits much of her professional success to the services provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and its resource partners. One of Regina’s earliest connections with the SBA was Irene Gonzales from the Boise District Office.
“Irene had confidence in me, encouraged me and acknowledged me,” Regina said. Irene arranged for Regina to interview other successful SBA-assisted small businesses as she started to formulate her own business plans.
As Regina conducted market research, she noted there were a lot of military projects available to SBA-certified small businesses. So she obtained certification as a Native American, Woman-Owned Small Business and was accepted into the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program which helps small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the federal contracting marketplace.
Additionally, Regina graduated from the SBA Emerging Leaders “mini-MBA” program and sought business counseling from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Post Falls, Idaho. “Meeting other entrepreneurs that were out there after the same things just gave me more drive and motivation to make my company stand out from the competition. I still use some of the tools they gave us in that program, and know that if I ever need advice, I have their support to help me along the way.”
When it was time to grow, accessing capital became a critical component for NNAC to perform on government contracts. Regina’s successful track record enabled her to secure a SBA-guaranteed line of credit through Panhandle State Bank, now part of the Columbia Bank family.
Regina plans to continue growing her business and expanding into the private sector.
“I realize my decisions have an extensive impact on others,” Regina said. “The unknown is a little scary at times so I keep focused on providing for my team and family.”
Regina also enjoys providing for those in her community by giving financial support to the American Legion, Susan B. Koman Fund, local school districts and the University of Idaho scholarship fund.
For more information about National Native American Construction, visit www.nnacinc.com.
For SBA local resources, including the 8(a) Business Development Program, Emerging Leaders, Small Business Development Centers, and the SBA Loan Guarantee Program, visit www.sba.gov/wa.