As early as high school, Tarolyn Buckles had her heart set on being an architect. But that all changed when the Michigan Department of Transportation visited her Detroit public high school and offered co-ops at the government agency. Buckles remembers saying, “If engineering involves working with architects, sign me up!” That decision changed the course of her future, as did her decision to attend the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders program.
After receiving a degree in Civil Engineering Structures from the University of Michigan and successful stints at several engineering companies in metro Detroit, Buckles established Onyx Enterprise, Inc., in 2007 and launched the company full-time in 2011. A certified woman- and minority-owned small business headquartered in Detroit, Onyx Enterprise provides engineering consulting, project management and construction management services to local, state, federal government, engineering consulting firms and contractors.
Buckles has a passion for the engineering field; specifically solving problems and developing relationships with her clients. Her firm was selected to conduct the vast majority of the quality control and construction inspection services for the new M-1 Rail line that will connect downtown Detroit to midtown. “Breaking the barrier of working on an MDOT project was the opportunity to pave the way for much more work to come,” said Buckles.
She participated in SBA’s Emerging Leaders program in 2015. The training focuses on small, poised-for-growth companies with potential for job creation. The seven-month intensive, executive entrepreneurship education series includes 100 hours of classroom time and provides the opportunity for small business owners to work with experienced mentors, develop connections with their peers and business experts.
Buckles credits Emerging Leaders for a 50 percent increase in profitability each year since graduating from the program. She’s also increased staff from four to seven to keep up with the company’s growth. Onyx Enterprises has expanded from Detroit to Cleveland and soon will open offices in Atlanta and Dallas.
She is an advocate for STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math classes and encourages young woman to break the same barriers she has by following their own passions. Tarolyn Buckles is proof that passion, preparation and hard work will lead to success.