When Mowa Haile set out to build a business with a couple of friends, they agreed on one fundamental principle: customer service.
“The opportunity to be customer focused is what motivates us and differentiates us,” said Mowa, President of minority-owned Sky Blue Builders, LLC. “As consumers, we see the mistakes that big companies make – and we want to change that. Everything we do, we consider it from the perspective of the customer. If it doesn’t bring value or positively impact the customer, it’s a waste of time.”
Founded in 2007, SBB is a general contractor and construction management firm specializing in commercial renovation, land development and infrastructure, and general repair and maintenance for commercial and government entities. SBB services run the gamut – from erosion control and concrete asphalt paving to removal and demolition.
“We operate from a team approach,” explained Mowa, who ascribes to the Six Sigma and Lean business methodologies, as well as the Kaizen philosophy of continuous process improvement. “When we offer a customer our commitment to quality, pricing and a schedule, we stick to it. We don’t provide an estimate and then charge a lot more – we make sure our pricing is accurate up front.”
In 2009, SBB booked $175K. Remarkably, in the first quarter of 2010, the firm grew to five full-time employees and grossed $750K. By targeting efforts on government contracts, Mowa expects to reach $2.5M at year’s end.
“I learned about the Small Business Development Center from a friend who set up a meeting for me with Andra Hargrave,” he said. “I shared with Andra our business history and our goal to focus more on the government sector. He gave me the lay of the land of federal contracting – how to find opportunities in that sector and who the main contacts are.”
In January 2010, Andra helped Mowa arrange a meeting with the head of procurement at Buckley Air Force Base.
“If I hadn’t met Andra, it would have taken me over a year to understand how to approach these entities,” said Mowa. “He pointed the way, but now it’s up to us.”