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The creator and CEO of 360 Energy Solutions recounts his story of challenges and successes on the path to becoming a contractor for the United States Federal Government.
Appearing in the annual list of America’s fastest-growing privately owned firms published by Inc. magazine is a prize for any businessman. Appearing three consecutive times on their 5000 list is a major achievement. Tony Noa, founder and president of 360 Energy Solutions, has done it.
Son of first generation Cuban immigrants who arrived in the United States in 1961, this Miami-born businessman stands out in the power generator sector, both in the private and federal markets.
His almost 20 years of experience in the field have earned him important local clients, such as Florida International University, Jackson Memorial Hospital and Miami-Dade County. His open-mindedness, meanwhile, has led him to work for the Department of Agriculture, the Coast Guard and the US Air Force.
But how has this entrepreneur managed to get this far? What challenges has he faced? What has nurtured this business to succeed like this, so big?
Let’s get to know a little about his story
Tony Noa: When my parents came to the United States, they went to live in New York. They were there for two years, my older sister was born there and, like every Latino family, they stayed together, trying to help each other. After that they moved to Miami, where my other sister and I were born. Shortly after, when I was four years old, my dad died, so my mom dedicated herself to raising her three children. I finished high school and did not go to university, because I had to start working at a very young age. I worked for airlines and also UPS, as a truck driver, and in 2000, I started to work with Caterpillar selling generators. I worked in the leasing and services areas, practically, in all departments, until April 2011. When I left that company, my wife was seven months pregnant. I had never thought about being an entrepreneur, but getting out of there was the best thing that could happen to me, because it was a fundamental part in the direction my life would take.
Alone, without knowing what to do, the young entrepreneur decided to create his generator service and maintenance company, and just like that he leaped into entrepreneurship as the owner of his own business.
Tony Noa: I chose one of the most popular areas in Miami, the 33137 zip code; I would park my car at a Wendy’s or Taco Bell and I would walk from door to door, from building to building, offering my services. That’s how I started: knocking on doors. Then I focused on other areas of Miami. I was looking for buildings with more than three stories, which must have had a generator for the elevator and emergency lights. Six months later I was able to bring in another person to help me in the office. And about a year and a half later, I started to get technicians. It was hard because experienced technicians earn good salaries and have better benefits. It was not easy for them to leave a national company to work with a stranger who was just starting out. For me, it was essential to make them feel secured and comfortable after I brought them into the team, so they could know we were going to take care of them. So, I focused on working with the team within a 15-mile radius of our headquarters in order to provide quick service, especially in emergencies.
Transitioning to the federal market
After expanding his business horizon to other areas of Miami and its surroundings, as well as working for multiple private clients, public schools, universities, hospitals, etc., Noa decided to venture into the federal sector and, for this, he let himself to be guided by Rafael Marrero, the most renowned national expert in doing business with Uncle Sam.
Tony Noa: We had quite a few opportunities locally, with very diverse clients, but when I met Marrero, he opened my eyes to the opportunities in the federal market. At an event we both attended, I overheard him talking about his company and the services he offers. So, I decided to talk to him. He helped me with the SBA 8 (a) Certification and also as a Minority Business Enterprise.
At the same time, Marrero’s firm has advised him with the SBA 8(a) Business Plan (form 1010c) for the coming years, launching an effective supplier diversity business development program and the proper marketing presentations to the federal sector.
Tony Noa: When I started working with Marrero, I already had my Capability Statement, but he helped me to change it according to government marketing best practices. He also helped me with the Strategy Growth Assessment to plan the strategy of how to find opportunities and win contracts.
The CEO of 360 Energy Solutions holds the highest opinion regarding the guidance of the expert in government affairs and the quality of his management as an advisor in the Business-to-Government relationship.
Tony Noa: Marrero has introduced me to leaders of organizations and chambers of commerce. He is a very serious, professional person, who always projects a very good image.
Plans in his mind
With a workforce of almost 30 employees and a growth of over 400% in the last three years, this Cuban-American business will do nothing but grow. In the short term, as Noa told us, the company will have a second branch in central Florida to cover the northern part of the state, enabling it to provide its services to many other clients.
At the federal level, the three-time Inc. recognized fast growing company will continue to seek contracting opportunities under the advice of the author of La Salsa Secreta del Tío Sam.
Tony Noa: We will continue working with Marrero and we recommend him because he is a great partner for any company wanting to work in the federal market.