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Home | Special Feature | Overcoming Obstacles - ACE CO.

Overcoming Obstacles - ACE CO.

image Veteran, Betty Drennan, Co-Owner, ACE CO.

EXTENDING THE REACH - I never planned on being in construction. It was simply taking advantage of what life had to offer and deciding to take that path. The thing I love most about the construction industry is the challenge that it presents and the sense of accomplishment when a project is complete and the customer is satisfied with the outcome.

 

 

    Betty Drennan grew up in San Antonio. She later joined the Air Force and was assigned to the Mission Support Group, Services Squadron. This is where she met her husband, Charles.
    Throughout her life she always enjoyed building and mechanical projects. After leaving the Air Force, due to a medical discharge, she recognized the opportunities the construction industry offered for financial independence. She decided to use her skills and apply them to her interests.
    In 1995, Betty and Charles established ACE CO. in San Antonio. They specialize in asphalt paving, parking lot striping, grounds maintenance and concrete.
    The business was built from scratch - not a lot of funds - so it was built over time.  Establishing the experience was necessary in order to obtain the certifications. “When you’re a woman, you have to prove you are knowledgeable in the business and really working in that business,” said Betty.


Obtaining Certifications

    Each certification has a different criteria. Obtaining numerous certifications takes a lot of time and perseverance. It’s a learning process and a lot of paperwork. In the end, it is worthwhile to obtain multiple certifications as it opens the door to a multitude of businesses who require specific certifications and who might need your services.


Obtaining Government Contracts


    Betty and Charles wanted to focus a portion of their business on government contracts. Prior to getting on the list of qualified contractors, you have to perform a “capabilities briefing” — You address an audience of contracting officers and civil engineers on your experience and why they should use you.
    One of the requirements is experience in government contract jobs. Well, that’s a “catch-22.”
    “Figuring out a way to get experience to get the work can be hard,” Betty says. “You have to find someone willing to work with you, a larger company to get the contracts. Then you joint venture the project as a subcontractor to get the experience.
    “Finally, a contracting officer approached me. He found me on the list of companies registered to perform government jobs. Our first job was an airfield that needed repair at Ft. Hood. We performed the job and finished ahead of schedule.”
    Six months later came another job, an airfield in Corpus Christi. More and more job opportunities came, and the rest is history.  -rd

Advice

    Reach out to UTSA and utilize their free training and networking outreach events.  (1) UTSA SBA Minority Development Enterprise Center (2) UTSA Procurement Technical Assistance Center.  They will help you through the certification process, guide and coach you in setting up your business.

Certifications

ACE CO has the following certifications:
SCTRCA Certified State HUB, SBA 8(a)
DIBE, ESBE, HABE, MBE, SBE, VBE, WBE


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Author Info

Reesa Doebbler reesa@constructionnews.net