May 2016 WIPP National Partner of the Month – JeFreda Brown

JeFredaRBMay 2016 WIPP National Partner of the Month

JeFreda Brown, CEO, Goshen Business Group, LLC

 

WIPP sat down with JeFreda to hear a little bit more about her business and relationship with us:

Tell us a little about your company and its mission.

Goshen Business Group, LLC is a full service consulting firm. We provide financial and business compliance consulting services. Our focuses are compliance, risk management, and fraud. We service small to large sized organizations in the US and are looking to expand internationally. We provide our services through consulting and professional development training. We also can develop training courses.

Our mission is to educate organizations on their financial responsibilities. This includes helping them learn and understand federal, state, local, and industry regulations and laws to develop and maintain compliant financial practices.

 

Have you always been an entrepreneur? If not, what inspired you to take the leap?

Actually, when I was 7 I used to pray and tell God I wanted to be a business owner one day so I could be rich and help people. I left my job with the Federal Government in January 2011 to go full time into my business. I felt like I wasn’t using my full potential and that I needed to do more to help others. I have so much knowledge that can be very valuable to those who need it. My grandfather worked for the federal Government, but he also had his own construction business. He was my biggest inspiration growing up. Seeing him as an entrepreneur and how he helped so many people gave me the courage to take the leap.

 

What is your biggest lesson learned working with the Federal Government?

I would say the biggest lesson I learned while working with the Federal Government was to be very detailed. I was a Senior Auditor with Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA). We were trained to be very thorough and detailed. That has helped me tremendously in my business. I also learned how very important risk assessments and fraud detection are. I have taken those lessons and now teach them to my clients.

 

Do you have a success story that you are particularly proud of? Tell us about it!

I have several, but I can roll them up into one. I am always getting feedback from my clients letting me know how much they appreciate my help. They say, “we don’t know these things, and we need someone like you to help us and keep us out of trouble”. One client told me that she doesn’t think enough people recognize how much knowledge I have and how much I can help their companies. I have had so many clients who have received bad advice from others, but they found me, and I was able to fix things that were done incorrectly by others.

 

Tell us about your experience as a WIPP member? What resources/value has WIPP provided that has been helpful to you and your company?

I have truly enjoyed being a WIPP member the last 5 years. It has been a great learning experience for me. WIPP provides so many valuable resources for women owned businesses and professionals. The monthly webinars are awesome. I was even asked to do a webinar training a couple of years ago on DCAA Audits, and it’s now part of the contracting certification program. Not only am I learning what I need for my business, but I’m also connecting with and interacting with other amazing women. I’m building great business relationships with these women. WIPP has also shown me that they value me and trust me by selecting me to be a part of the Procurement Committee, Leadership Advisory Council, and now Treasurer on both the WIPP Board of Directors and Education Foundation Board of Directors. You have to be involved to get value out of WIPP. You have to actively participate in the things WIPP offers. No other organization for women offers what WIPP offers, in my opinion. WIPP has a reach across the globe, and it’s growing more and more. It will soon be up there in the ranks like huge international nonprofits such as UNICEF.

Twitter: @GoshenBG

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GoshenBG/

August 2015 WIPP National Partner of the Month

Lynn Sutton

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.

 

Bonds: An Important Weapon In Any Contractor’s Arsenal

It is vital that construction contractors, regardless of tier or trade, understand the basic principles of contract surety bonds. An understanding of how bonds are used in construction; and, importantly, how the surety company prequalifies the contractor is critical.   Surety Bonds are mandated by various federal, state and local laws, but may also be required by the private sector as well. Recently, as part of WIPP’s Give Me 5 webinar series, bonding specialist Ellen Neylan, along with construction counsel, Jennifer M. Horn and Maria Panichelli, discussed these issues in detail. Below are some highlights of the discussion.

The Performance Bond secures the contractor’s promise to perform the contract in accordance with its terms and conditions, at the agreed upon price, and within the time allowed. The Payment Bond protects certain laborers, material suppliers and subcontractors against nonpayment. Since mechanic’s liens cannot be placed against public property, the payment bond may be the only protection these claimants have if they are not paid for the goods and services they provide to the project.

In order to obtain a bond, the contractor must be prequalified. Sureties should not bond a contractor that does not meet their prequalification standards. The surety company’s pre-qualification process carefully analyzes the contractor’s entire business operation, much like a bank, because the surety is backing the promise that the contractor will perform the contract. The surety determines the contractor’s ability to meet current and future contract and financial obligations.

The parameters of bonding on a project are often dictated by the law. For example, the Federal Miller Act requires surety bonds for the “construction, alteration, or repair of any public building or public work of the United States for an amount greater than $100,000.” When filing surety claims against Miller Act bonds, subcontractors should be aware that timing is critical. Even though no notice is required, first tier subcontractors must wait 90 days from non-payment to give the bond principal a chance to make payments. In addition, all suits must be filed within one year of last work performed or materials supplied. It’s very important that the claim notice clearly state the amount being claimed, the name of the party to whom labor or supplies were provided, and that the subcontractor is making a formal claim against the bond principal.

The Surety will not pay claims without regard to their merits, but it should be expected to respond to claims promptly and, if denying a claim, offer an explanation. Finally, the Surety, with the aid of legal counsel, can assert all defenses of its bond principal, unless precluded by bond or contract language. Examples of defenses might include: breach of contract; recoupment/setoff; and failure to mitigate damages.

For more detailed information about this important topic, tune in to the recent webinar:

Give Me 5 Logo

Give Me 5: Construction Unit – Bonding and Liens 

As a federal contractor in the construction industry, it is imperative that you obtain proper bonding – but this is a highly complicated subject that could end up costing you an incredible amount of money if you don’t fully understand the nuances and ramifications. This webinar unravels the most important aspects of bonding and liens providing you with important guidelines for success.

Course Instructors: Jennifer Horn, Partner, Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC & Maria Panichelli, Associate, Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC and Special Guest: Ellen Neylan, Founder, Surety Bonds Associates

Listen to the Podcast | View the Presentation