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Small Business Self-Performance Roots


EXTENDING THE REACH - Only seven years ago and with just a handful of employees, Roland Davila founded RCO, a civil work subcontracting company – but it didn’t stay small for long. With the help of R.J. Delagarza, who joined in 2013, RCO evolved into a general contractor while staying true to its self-performing roots. Today, the 35-employee-strong company boasts an SBA 8(A) designation, a HUBZone certification, and participates in two mentor/protégé and JV programs.

RCO’s success in such a short span is no accident.
    “Our main strengths in the self-performmance area are earthwork,  utilities, and concrete,” Delagarza says. “All three have given us a small competitive advantage in civil GC contracts that we pursue as well as opened up doors for ground-up subcontracting projects.”
    Depending on the project, RCO reaches out to the general contractor’s estimator with interest on bidding out items they can self-perform. Relationships are built during the bid process and sustained over the project’s duration.
    “We pay close attention to details and make it a point to know what the owners and inspectors are looking for on projects,” Delagarza continues. “We work very hard to stay ahead of the curve and on the critical path.”
    RCO believes its ability to successfully self-perform work in this market is attributed to its employee retention and training; continuing education and employee safety are top priorities. Safety orientation, including an OSHA 10 class paid for by RCO, is mandatory for new employees. Supervisory and management personnel are required to obtain OSHA 30 certification. A full-time safety manager handles daily toolbox talks and the corporate office’s safety meetings.
    “We have 10 employees who have been with us since 2010,” Delagarza says. “We have a great working relationship with our field staff. We rely on them heavily and are blessed to have them as part of the RCO family.”
    Delagarza believes positive strides have been made in the SMWVO arena since he started RCO. In 2014, RCO received its Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) designation under which it was awarded sole source projects from Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA), Directorate of Public Works, and Air National Guard. Over the past three years, RCO has built a working relationship with local agencies including San Antonio Water Systems (SAWS), San Antonio River Authority (SARA), and Brooks.
    “Many agencies are requiring to meet small business goals which sort of force general contractors to go out and actively seek small business contractors,” he says. “This helps businesses get a piece of the pie while actively building relationships with larger companies.”
    Relationships are what bring RCO opportunities in the form of word-of-mouth referrals and repeat customers.
    “RCO has been an exceptional contractor to work with over the several projects that have have completed,” San Antonio River Authority’s Dustin Moore P.E. says. “If any issue ever arose, they came up with solutions that were cost and schedule efficient. Their primary focus was always job completion with the highest level of quality and safety.”
    “We are honored that others find our work good enough to have other general contractors go out of their way to recommend us and contact us,” Delagarza says. “I think that not only says something about our management relationships, but the quality of work from our field staff.”
    Delagarza encourages anyone wishing to start a construction business to utilize available tools.
    “Reach out to the SBA and the programs they offer to small businesses,” he says. “The SBA is a great program and will help guide new business owners and provide the tools to becoming a successful business. Develop good working relationships with larger GCs and clients as this will allow for future opportunities.”
    “The Construction News Special Feature Section will be a tremendous tool,” he continues. “It will help small companies that don’t necessarily have the resources to market their companies. This will be a great opportunity for them to share their capabilities and gain exposure in the industry.”

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Author Info

Reesa Doebbler reesa@constructionnews.net