This Entrepreneur Has a Story to Tell

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Sandy Young started Verdis in 2007 with her late husband, Gary, as a landscape design and land use planning company. Beginning with just one employee and operating out of a basement office, Verdis focused on planning and design projects for local developers and homeowners.

Since its inception, Verdis has grown exponentially in size and scope. Today, with headquarters in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and a branch office in Anchorage, Alaska, Verdis performs on projects across 14 states as a civil engineering and construction services firm with 38 employees. 

Success for Sandy Young and Verdis has been a long journey. In 2014, Sandy’s husband, Gary, was diagnosed with lymphoma but urged Sandy to continue running her business and to grow it through federal contracting. He passed away nine months after being diagnosed. Verdis had already been a women-owned company since its inception, with Sandy at the helm and Gary choosing to work in the company as an employee. Following her husband’s passing, Sandy became a certified woman-owned business and applied for acceptance into the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program, which she achieved in 2015.

The 8(a) certification program is a nine-year program created to help socially and economically disadvantaged small business owners succeed in the federal marketplace. Once certified, program participants are eligible to receive federal contracting preferences, training, and technical assistance designed to strengthen their ability to compete effectively in the American economy.

For Sandy, growing her company was her way to cope with her grief. She found herself on the road, marketing, driving to meet potential clients, and working more than ever. After several federal agencies expressed interest in Verdis but encouraged her to offer construction services to win contracts, Sandy took the advice, and the projects started to come. After successfully performing on those projects, more projects rolled in.

Since its first 8(a) award in 2016, Verdis has successfully performed on more than 160 federal contracts as a full-service civil engineering, landscape architecture, planning, and construction firm. Their work includes projects for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Homeland Security, National Park Service, US Forest Service, Federal Highway Administration, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Agriculture, U.S. Air Force, and the National Guard.

Sandy credits her company's success to the remarkable team that has grown. To maintain qualification for 8(a) certification firms must not exceed a designated net worth. As Verdis grew and expanded, the company embraced a profit-sharing model in addition to twice-a-year bonuses for the entire team, opportunities for professional development, training and tuition assistance, and 401k, medical/vision/dental, parental leave, and relocation assistance. Sandy speaks of her whole team as one big family, and her son and daughter work in Verdis as a civil engineer and the chief financial officer. Her very first employee is still with the company 14 years later.

In the past 10 years, Verdis’ net worth has grown more than 3,000%. In the past two years, they have expanded their services to include a masonry restoration and a fire and life safety division. Today, the team of 38 serves more than 60 clients each month.

Verdis was recognized in 2022 as the U.S. Small Business Administration Idaho Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year, part of the SBA National Small Business Week awards.

This article does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the SBA of any opinions, products, or services of any private individual or entity.