SBA program helps firm land more pacts

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SAN ANTONIO TX — Ever since the company secured its 8(a) certification with the Small Business Administration, Vision Construction Co. Inc. has experienced exponential growth.

The company, which was founded in 2003, grew from a two-person shop based in Laredo to a 30-person company now headquartered in San Antonio with locations in Laredo, Pharr and Del Rio.

The 8(a) program is designed to help disadvantaged small businesses learn to compete in the federal marketplace. Qualified businesses receive special training and tutoring from SBA professionals and have the opportunity to bid on contract work that is set aside specially for 8(a) certified businesses.

Noel Flores, founder and president of Vision Construction, says that when the company received its 8(a) certification in 2009, it was excellent timing. Not only did it spark the growth the company has experienced over the past several years, but it helped the company to withstand the economic downturn that hurt a lot of other companies working primarily in the private sector.

“We were very fortunate to get our certification when we did,” Flores says. “It has opened a lot of doors for us. If we had not been given that opportunity, things could have been much different for us.”

Flores worked as a construction supervisor for Conoco Philips in Laredo before deciding to launch his own business with his wife, Joanna. When the company started out, it did small construction jobs for clients such as Lowes and Home Depot before getting a foothold doing a number of projects for the Laredo Medical Center.

Vision Construction is a general contracting company that does “a little bit of everything,” according to Flores. In addition to construction and maintenance projects, the company does finish-out work; landscaping; and can install fiber optic and communications equipment.

Contractor award

Last year, the company was awarded the San Antonio Business Opportunity Council’s 2011 MEDWeek Award for its contracting work with the U.S. Army. The award recognized the company for work done at Camp Bullis’ Army Medic Training Site where the firm was contracted to work on several projects including dealing with an inoperable misting system.

“Vision Construction provided above and beyond support and was critical to mitigating heat stress conditions for the soldiers training at Camp Bullis,” says Charles Rhea, a spokesman for the council.

“Vision demonstrated its commitment to excellent service by identifying and overcoming a maintenance deficiency which resulted in an expeditious repair, all in the same day.”

Shelly Alvarez, of Shelly Alvarez Insurance & Financial Services PLLC, says she has been impressed with Vision Construction since she began working with them four years ago.

“They are one of my favorite clients,” Alvarez says. “Their work is always 100 percent and their customer service is top notch. I never hear any complaints about them.”

Joanna Flores, who serves as chief operating officer for Vision Construction, says she is pleased that the company has been so well received in San Antonio.

“We are very happy to be here,” she says. “We have been here for about a year and during that time we have been able to expand our bonding capacity.”

When Vision Construction came to town it could not accept individual jobs for more than $3 million, she says. Now the company’s bonding capacity for single projects is up to $6 million and the aggregate amount for all projects is up to $16 million.

This past year, the company had annual revenues of about $3 million and Noel Flores says he expects to surpass that amount in the coming year.

“We want to continue to grow and expand and create jobs here in San Antonio,” Flores says. Vision Construction is looking at possibly opening offices in El Paso and Sugarland next year as new work opportunities present themselves, he adds.

Source: SA Business Journal