Amid Birmingham’s $1 Billion Construction Boom, Will Minority- And Women-Owned Firms Finally Prosper?

J.G. didn’t get the job but later bid on another project for the company and won it: remodeling B&G’s headquarters. After working with the company on other projects, and expansion into utility work, B&G asked JG if they wanted to be mentored through EQUIP.

Jones said yes, of course.

JG’s leaders meet monthly with a B&G project manager, and often with Gorrie and other B&G executives. Safety, an area directed for JG by Samuetta H. Drew, senior executive director of Security Operations, is a key area of focus.

The company is now acting as a general contractor in the area of utilities--under Jones Group Utilities--and is striving to be general contractors in construction.

“I can’t tell you how helpful [EQUIP has] been with us,” Tony Jones says. “I learned a lot, our people learned a lot -- in every facet.

“We work hand in hand with their supervisor and project manager for a job. We start with manpower--what’s needed? They assisted us in talking about how to bid jobs and do pre-construction work. They give assistance with the scheduling of jobs and how you piece in with all the other subs on the job. That’s critical, especially if you one day plan to be a general contractor. Sounds like a simple thing but when you have 10 subs on a job, it’s a moving puzzle; it’s fluid, it moves.

“We’re on the job, not just sitting down and getting the academic side. We’re working and being awarded jobs. I think we’re a better company because of it.”

“We try to survive on our performance,” Tony Jones adds. “Independent of race, creed or color, we want to perform. We want you to think of the Jones Group as a good company. Sure, we’re a minority-owned company but we want the first thing you think to be that they are a good company.”

DON’T LOSE MOMENTUM Washington and others firmly believe the key to capitalizing on this time of unprecedented growth, beyond continued education on business operations, is a further collaboration among minority- and women-owned firms--combining resources, for instance, to bid for bigger projects.

“Being selfless and open to collaboration,” he says. “I can compete against you and still share stuff with you. I know my limitations; I can’t do every job. Together, though, we can do more. We have to show them.”

“Collaboration and finding the right relationships are the keys to changing the mindset of how we do business as minority firms in Birmingham,” says Dickerson. “But we have to be intentional about it. Working together we can get a larger piece of the pie because we’ll have more [bonding] capacity. “It is a good time to be in business in Birmingham,” Hamilton says. “I can feel the collective momentum. At the same time, we’ve got to have somebody creating awareness, ringing bells and making us all accountable for the economic reliance of black business. These are our folks.”

If not now, when? Or ever? We’ll see.

___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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