COEUR d’ALENE – Verdis has been accepted into a Small Business Administration mentoring program that creates a framework for growth and success by pairing small businesses with larger, established companies.
“This is a phenomenal door-opener for us,” said Verdis President Sandy Young.
Verdis, the Northwest’s only 8(a), woman-owned, full-service civil engineering, landscape architecture and construction firm, will be mentored by Western Specialty Contractors for three years (with potential for a three-year extension). The companies were notified Friday of acceptance into the Small Business Administration’s All Small Mentor-Protégé Program. Western Specialty Contractors, based in St. Louis, Missouri, is nationally recognized by Engineering News-Record as a Top 20 Masonry and Concrete Restoration Firm. Founded more than 100 years ago, the company now has 30 offices nationwide.
“They will assist us as we take on a variety of projects, many outside of our newly acquired construction experience,” Young said. “It is a wonderful growth opportunity for us.”
The companies have already worked together as subcontractors on one another’s projects, including a 64-story municipal building in Seattle and rehabilitating a historic building in Olympic National Park. Benefits to both companies will be substantially boosted moving forward under the mentor-protégé program.
The partnership gives Verdis access to Western Specialty Contractors’ $100-million-plus bonding capability. Limited bonding capability restricted Verdis from taking on many bigger projects, Young said.
Because of Western Specialty Contractors’ large size, the company was excluded from federal contracts that were set aside for small businesses. Through the program, mentor companies can form joint ventures with their protégés and secure federal contracts that the protégé is eligible for. The program now allows Western Specialty Contractors the opportunity to submit proposals on small, 8(a) and woman-owned solicitations.
“We’re trying to grow and they’re trying to expand into a slightly different world,” Young said.
Now that the companies have been accepted into the program, they will explore opportunities for a joint venture on a particular project. The mentor-protégé relationship goes deeper, though. Western Specialty Contractors – with more than a century of experience in the construction trade – will coach Verdis in accounting, project management, construction estimating and how to improve the company’s efficiency and effectiveness.
“One thing this program emphasizes is the mentor has to go in with the sense that even if the two companies are never awarded a joint-venture project, they’re helping another company and giving back,” Young said. “That’s what the program is designed for.”
Young and her late husband, Gary, left public-sector planning jobs in 2007 to start Verdis. In July 2015, Verdis was accepted in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program as a certified economically-disadvantaged, woman-owned small business. Between the Coeur d’Alene headquarters and an Anchorage office, which opened in 2017, Verdis now has 18 employees.
Since 2016, Verdis has been awarded more than 60 federal contracts in nine states, including projects for the National Park Service, the United States Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the General Services Administration and the Department of Defense.
Verdis recently completed a project at Ballard Locks in Seattle for the Army Corps of Engineers, replacing 2,500 linear feet of air line in the tunnels below the locks. The air line blows underwater debris from around the gates of the locks so a tight seal is formed. Upcoming federal projects include a job at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.
“It’s so much fun,” Young said. “There’s so much pleasure in being outdoors in the National Parks and knowing you are taking a visitor center and making it better for the public to enjoy.”
Closer to home, Verdis is managing construction of hotels in Riverstone and near the Spokane International Airport, providing civil engineering services for Metro Car Wash and working on a 7-story mixed-use development in Pullman.
CONTACT: Sandy Young, President
Office: 208 667-1214
Mobile: 208 755-5478