August WIPP National Partner of the Month: Lynn Sutton
WIPP sat down with Lynn to hear a little bit more about her business and relationship with WIPP…
Tell us a little about your company and its mission.
Advantage Building Contractors, Inc. is a federal government contractor specializing in design build, general construction, and facilities support. The company was founded by Patricia Summers and I in 2002 as a residential roofing specialty trades contractor. In 2010 Advantage made its way into the federal arena and within a year, Advantage was awarded the first WOSB set aside contract in construction. Like most other small businesses getting started with the federal government, Advantage faced the brutal challenges of developing business in the absence of no relevant past performance and, specific to construction, little bonding capacity. We were able to build our capabilities through sole source opportunities, teaming partners and relentless follow-up with agencies. Our Mission Statement is “We’re on a mission to make our customer’s job easier.”
Have you always been an entrepreneur? If not, what, or who, inspired you to take this leap?
I grew up in Philadelphia and was raised within a family who valued an intense work ethic and entrepreneurship. My grandfather was a shoemaker in the early 1900’s and my grandmother worked tirelessly at home raising seven children while instilling in them to pursue and achieve all of their dreams. My father played the single most influential role in inspiring me to be an entrepreneur. He had several businesses and influenced me to create my own opportunities. I began by selling greeting cards before the age of nine and shortly thereafter I worked for my Father who was an Amway Distributor until I was able to start my own Distributorship.
How are you engaged in your community (or state or national scene) in philanthropic or political causes?
Since I have experienced success in federal contracting, many other small business owners, especially women, have come to me looking for guidance. I am Editor of Hattie’s Hammer, a blog that serves as a resource to help women and disadvantaged groups navigate the federal market by providing information regarding current events, programs, opportunities, and legislation. Hattie’s Hammer is a local and national platform in which I contribute to the collective social conscience by promoting awareness of the need for small businesses to participate in federal contracting as a means to overcome many of the socioeconomic challenges women and disadvantaged businesses face on a daily basis. I must add all of us have the ability to engage by supporting organizations that are advocating on their behalf and respond to sources sought when possible.
Have you advocated for an issue or a cause important to you (for example: called or written to your elected official, spoken publicly, or written an op-ed).
One of the most impactful highlights of my life was having the opportunity to represent WIPP by providing testimony to the US Senate in support of the Women’s Small Business Parity Act and Sole Source Authority in July 2014.
My first major cause was participating in a campaign to stop a Mayor from being elected in Philadelphia. Decades later, I was a community organizer for the National Organization for Women for the rally to support The Violence Against Women Act in Washington, DC. Prior to that I at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. We had many critical issues to tackle. I am humbled to have been a contributor to equal rights and marriage for LGBT couples. Trish and I have been partners for almost twenty years and we were finally able to get married on June 29, 2015.
What value/resources has WIPP brought you (training or education, member or political connections/access, awareness of policies that affect your business and its growth, etc.) that have been helpful to you?
One of the most incredible resources WIPP has brought to both me personally and my business, is the network of professionals that have provided support and information that has been invaluable. Through connections of WIPP members and Board Members, I have been able to meet with key agency decision makers, exponentially increase our bonding capacity, and enhance my company’s exposure to opportunities through multiple teaming partnerships. My life has changed with great relationships and role models that take my breath away. I’ll affirm for everyone that the value, resources, education, connections, or whatever you desire is happening for you right now. I am just starting on this path and look forward to contribute as I grow.
Click here to read Lynn’s full bio.