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With the help of the main federal contracting expert, Rafael Marrero, Miguel Lopez Jr. Inc. company has been doing business with Uncle Sam for three years.
Brothers Miguel and Eduardo López got the motivation to work in the field of construction directly from home. In Cuba, his grandfather had a factory of prefabricated parts; while in the US, his father continued to do the same and when he retired, the entrepreneurs created the company Miguel López Jr. Asphalt Maintenance & Site Development, which just in 2019 is celebrating 30 years of existence.
Apart from the celebrations for the three decades of life, this company has another powerful reason to celebrate: for the second time, they made the Inc. magazine’s coveted Inc. 5000 list, as one of the fastest-growing private companies nationwide. This recognition is due to the fact that the company has grown tremendously since it began doing business with Federal Government.
The story behind the achievement
“A few years ago ‒ Miguel says ‒ we thought we were ready and we tried to get the SBA [federal] certifications by ourselves, without seeking professional help. After a lot of paperwork – because the process is rigorous and daunting – we always lacked one document or another, they always rejected us, so, after trying it for a while, we gave it up.”
“Sometime later – he continues – I met Rafael Marrero. He had been already recommended to me, and ever since it has been fabulous because with him it was we were approved on the first attempt: he sent the paperwork and, six months later, we were already certified. In November, it will be three years since we got our first federal contract.”
The advice of Rafael Marrero & Company
The founder and CEO of Rafael Marrero & Company, Rafael Marrero, is considered by Hispanics and others, as the leading adviser in terms of doing business with the US Government. In fact, several Hispanic-led companies are in the process of certification or already growing at an accelerated pace thanks to his experience and advice.
“From the beginning” – Miguel remembers – “we were lucky to be in a boot camp with Marrero, training our people. He served as a bridge offering his knowledge. He knows how to get into the Government, because [the process] is completely different from private sector business practices.”
Then, “not only did he help us with the certifications, but also he accompanied us for a year, going with us to [Washington] D.C. and to interviews with [federal] buyers and Prime contractors. He put us on the right path to work with the Government.”
Federal Certifications, SBA Loans and Increased Bonding Capacity
In the case of Miguel López Jr. Inc., Marrero insisted on obtaining the SBA 8(a) certification (Small Business Administration) and the DBE certification (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise), granted by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).
He also helped them increase their bonding capacity via Government-sponsored programs. “Through Marrero’s help, we were able to qualify for an increase in our bonding capacity. You need to have the capacity to bond projects, to guarantee construction jobs. We were initially approved for $1.5 million per job and $4.5 million dollars aggregate coverage, and last year, with Marrero’s expert guidance, we were approved for $ 10 million per job, and to $ 25 million aggregate bonding.
At the same time, Marrero also helped them obtain a loan from the SBA for the construction of a new building in Pembroke Pines, Florida, the company’s headquarters. Thanks to that loan, they now have a 15,000-foot warehouse and more than four acres of land to grow continuously.
Climbing to the Federal market
With all this help, the company of the so-called “king of asphalt in Florida” has been able to go at a fast-pace from the private market to the federal market, offering its usual maintenance and construction services (paving, asphalt repair, drainage, water and sewage, and preparation of barren land, among others).
As a result of this escalation, in just three years of business with Uncle Sam, the company has managed to bring its annual revenues from $7 million to about $18 million. That is precisely why Inc. magazine included them (in 2017 and 2019) on its Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing privately held firms.
And that’s the reason why Miguel only has words of praise for his mentor. “The relationship we have with Marrero is spectacular. His service, the counseling he offers… it’s amazing. He also helped us with marketing. He ‘pushed’ us at the beginning and, today, he’s still our liaison before the Government.
In the short term, his company aims to get more federal contracts and reach $ 20 million annually in revenues, a goal he knows they will achieve, because the federal market “opens up another source of work and another source of income. And a source that is guaranteed, because the government pays, pays, pays.”
To Hispanic entrepreneurs in any industry who dream of reaching Uncle Sam, Miguel tells them that becoming federal contractors is going to help them tremendously. “This will not happen overnight, it takes a lot of effort, but with the volume [of work] that the government has, I think it is beneficial for anyone.”
And if it is about management and mentoring, Miguel recommends Rafael Marrero & Company 100%. “On a personal level, we have a very nice relationship, I would say we’re almost family. And as for the team, it is excellent; Both Marrero and his team are always attentive to what is needed. And I know this doesn’t happen just to us: he helps everyone.”