Elite Construction was jump-started when Trini Garibay – the then leading sales person at a Tri-Cities car dealership – was given an ultimatum by his boss.
“My boss at the dealership felt I was distracted from selling cars, even though my sales numbers where still strong,” Trini said. “He said I had to choose.”
Trini had started the business he had always dreamed of in early 2008. The ultimatum proved to be fortuitous and that was the moment Trini and his partner David Magana got serious about the construction business.
With a family to support, it put Trini in a “sink or swim” situation. Fortunately, Trini grew up in an entrepreneurial family and always knew he wanted to be his own boss. By taking that leap in 2008, he and his partner have built what is now a successful and thriving construction business headquartered in Kennewick, Washington with eyes on the world.
“My business experience and the skills I developed in the automotive industry – particularly in sales – have helped us succeed in the construction industry during a time when others were failing,” Trini said. The original plan was to flip houses, but economic and local real estate conditions in 2008 forced them to change their plans. Rather than give up, they decided to focus on renovation projects.
They used $500 from their first project to get their contractor licensing. During the first year, every penny went back into the business; however, they found themselves in $45,000 of debt. They kept working at it and started taking advantage of the programs provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration and its partners to build their business.
Trini and David began working extensively with Bruce Davis, Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC) advisor in Kennewick. “Bruce is a big reason why we are still in business,” Trini said. He helped Elite Construction get their first loan for $150,000, which enabled the firm to bid on larger projects. Trini notes cash flow is the “lifeblood of the business.”
During the six years following their first meeting with the SBDC, Elite Construction has added 30 full-time employees, grown to more than $5 million in annual revenues, and expanded their geography beyond central Washington to encompass northern Oregon and Idaho. In 2013, Elite Construction was named the Southeast Washington Minority Small Business of the Year by the University of Washington.
The owners have also capitalized on additional services offered by SBA partners including a loan from Benton Franklin Council of Governments a Certified Development Company working through the Small Business Development Center and most recently a line of credit from Banner Bank in Kennewick. Elite was also engaged in the Profit Mastery financial course from the SBDC, and has received contracting guidance from Ashley Coronado with the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) in Kennewick. More recently, Trini was accepted to attend the prestigious 14th annual Turner Construction School of Management program.
The principals of Elite Construction credit their success to sticking to their corporate and personal values along with developing a reputation as honest, dependable and professional. Trini added, “The SBA is always opening doors for us, being reliable, and helping us find opportunities.”
Trini’s best advice to others who are considering starting their own businesses is to create a business plan, seek experienced peer advice, and learn from and mimic the best, people who are already doing it the right way. In keeping with their own advice to “learn from the best,” Trini and David have adopted the approach of Pete Carroll, head coach for the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks: Hire people who are passionate about their job, want to grow and succeed. But equally as important your team needs to have fun and be excited. Enthusiasm is contagious.
For more information about Elite Construction & Development, visit www.elitecnd.com.
For more information about the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network, visit www.wsbdc.org.
And for more information about Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) in Washington, visit www.washingtonptac.org.