Fifty aspiring entrepreneurs attended ten hours of instruction on how to set up a construction or commercial contracting company and how to become a construction sub-contractor in the District of Columbia. The pilot program was sponsored by Turner Construction as part of their famous Construction Management Certificate program with the assistance of the Metro DC Hispanic Contractors Assoc. (MDCHCA) and the Carlos Rosario International Charter School (CRICS).
On 4 Tuesday evenings in September and October of 2017 aspiring business owners from the DC region's vibrant, dynamic Latino community poured into the venerable Carlos Rosario School to attend a series of lectures, power point presentations and question and answer sessions. Some of the construction industry's most prominent and experienced professionals from Turner and the MDCHCA shared information and materials on everything from how to win a commercial contract with a large General Contractor to how to overcome the prejudices of the industry toward women and minorities.
Enoch Parada from Dynamic Contracting Inc. explained how to prepare a bid and Silvia Jaimes, a procurement officer with Turner, explained what she looked for when approving contracts. Carlos Perdomo, Chair of the MDCHCA and Vice President Otto Madrid, gave emotional and inspired presentations. Carlos reminisced about his career of over 25 years in the industry and what it took for him to become a successful business owner. Presenters from Turner went through detailed financial materials needed for a successful contractor to square the finances of his/her business and how to read financial statements and prepare budgets for bidding. At the final session presentations were made by Construction Bond owner Edin Zukanovic, Abe Borjas from Secaucus Insurance and Margarita Dilone, MDCHCA Board member and owner of Crystal Insurance.
"Watching so many eager and aggressive young entrepreneurs from our community was inspiring", commented Otto Madrid, owner of JPN Masonry and a leading Salvadoran professional in the construction industry. "The knowledge that so many of our folks want to learn to do things the right way and that they are eager to take on the challenges they face in the industry is refreshing and bodes well for the future". "I failed many times and had to pick myself up and start again", claimed Carlos Perdomo, owner of Keystone Plus Construction. "You bid on 10 projects and perhaps you're approved for 1 or 2 of them", explained Carlos to the audience. "You simply learn to work harder and keep honing your skills".
The program could not have happened without the diligence and nurturing of Carolyn Ellison of Turner Construction. It was her original idea that sparked the effort. The acquiescence of the company to invest in this type of training is what makes Turner a leader in the field. We are thankful that Turner Construction has seen the wisdom of creating this partnership with the Latino community.
This remarkable training program, would never have happened if it weren't for the vision of Alberto Gomez, Board Chair, Sonia Gutierrez, Founder and Allison Kokkoros, President & CEO of CRICS. They took the risk of creating a totally new field of academic endeavor for the school and, under the extraordinary leadership of Raul Medrano, executing the pilot program to this point.
Hispanics are an essential, dynamic element of the construction industry both as workers and business owners. The task of Metro DC Hispanic Contractors Association continues to be the preparation of those workers and businesses in the region to achieve greater participation and more recognition within the industry. Hispanics deserve more opportunities and have the capacity to take on larger and more specialized projects. Turner, Carlos Rosario School and MDCHCA are making that vision and purpose a reality.