Relationship with SBDC Paid off for Contractor When the U.S. Economy Went South
Thursday, November 14th, 2019
Guiomar Obregon’s company was struggling during the Great Recession. Loans were coming due, business was down. Fortunately, she had already tapped into the expertise of the UGA Small Business Development Center when she launched Precision 2000 (P2K) two decades ago, so she knew where to go for help.
P2K is an Atlanta-based civil engineering firm that builds infrastructure for communities, including water and sewer lines, roads, bridges, sidewalks and streetscapes. It repairs concrete on airport runways and taxiways. It works with the Georgia Department of Transportation on highway repair contracts, replacing concrete slabs, and contracts with military bases in the Carolinas and Georgia.
“We knew the SBDC was there to assist small businesses, so I took many of their classes, initially,” said Obregon, a general contractor. “As the company continued growing, we continued accessing the SBDC resources.”
Then the economy tanked.
“In 2007, I had many loans that were maturing, and the banks were not lending. Our sales had dropped to half of what they were, and we were in a bad spot to refinance,” Obregon said. “The SBDC helped me prepare the documents for a (U.S. Small Business Administration) loan, helping me refinance the equipment and some of the real estate, the office and the equipment yard.”
SBDC Consultant Antonio Barrios helped Obregon learn about the that was applicable to the refinancing she needed.
“He helped me navigate, look for the best options and negotiate with the banks,” she said.
The SBDC then helped Obregon apply for U.S. Small Business Administration business development certification, which can help socially and economically disadvantaged businesses secure contracts with the federal government.
“The certification was essential because it opened new avenues to guide Guiomar’s company out of recession and into strong growth,” said Carolina Ramon, director of the SBDC’s Office of Minority Business Development, who is helping Obregon with strategic planning.
International trade consultant Rick Martin, an SBDC international trade consultant, helped Obregon expand globally.
“When we opened our office in Colombia, he helped with knowing what kind of preparations we needed to take, where to get equipment and how to understand import/export regulations,” she said.
In the last decade, P2K has grown from 40 to 70 employees. Annual sales have doubled to $18 million. Obregon and her company have received several awards, including the 2017 Inspiration Award from the Latin American Association.
Obregon also co-founded the Georgia Hispanic Construction Association, which has grown to 250 members in the last six years.
“I’ve learned, as a business owner that you don’t have all the answers, and you don’t have to,” Obregon said. “You do have to reach out to entities like the SBDC and ask them to help you. I would encourage everyone to use the resources of the SBDC.”