Summer 2012    
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Anchor1Letter From Director

Greetings and welcome to another edition of the Insights to Opportunity newsletter.


Since our last publication, many exciting activities have occurred; all geared towards our commitment and goal of creating a competitive and diverse business environment in the City of Houston. Let's tune you in.


anchor2Small, Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (S/MWDBE) Utilization Reports

The Office of Business Opportunity (OBO) has published its FY 2012 report on the awards to certified small, minority, women and disadvantaged business enterprises on City of Houston contracts. The reports have been improved to provide more useful and friendly information on City departments' progress in achieving S/MWDBE utilization goals. The reports contain new features such as: citywide summaries; citywide/departmental reports by ethnicity, classification by gender, and certification types for each contract; reporting by contract type; prior year citywide participation; and a summary of utilization by department.


In FY 2012, City departments' S/MWDBE commitments surpassed those of previous years, with approximately 28% of the dollar value of contracts awarded to certified firms. The City of Houston awarded $1,321,182,509 to firms for construction, professional services, and purchasing agreements. Of this amount, $108,800,299 were exempt contracts which do not require the utilization of certified firms and $339,651,389 was awarded to certified S/MWDBEs. The FY 2012 and historical S/MWDBE Awards Reports are published on the OBO website. 


Anchor3Construction Disparity Study Working Group

On June 15, 2012, Mayor Annise Parker created a Disparity Study Working Group. Led by Council Member Larry Green as well as myself, the Working Group has been charged with reviewing the recommendations made by the National Economic Research Associates (NERA); determining the feasibility of their implementation; and as appropriate, proposing amendments to the M/WBE Ordinance, program policies, procedural changes, and subcontracting goals.


The Disparity Study Working Group, upon completion of its assigned tasks, will conduct focus group meetings and informational forums for stakeholders. Stakeholders will be notified of the first meeting, possibly in September, 2012. To learn more about the disparity study or if you have comments on the NERA recommendations please visit our  website. 


Anchor4Bonding Education Program

On August 7, 2012, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, the Surety & Fidelity Association of America, and a host of local stakeholders, OBO launched a Bonding Education Program (BEP) here in the great City of Houston. The program runs through September 25, 2012 and is geared towards educating small contractors about industry challenges; assisting them with obtaining surety bonds; increasing bonding capacity; and interacting with service providers and bond producers. It consists of two components: the educational workshops component and the bond readiness component. Additional information on the Bonding Education Program can be found on the website. This initiative is the first of many to help Educate, Connect and Grow your business. Please look for future announcements about additional capacity building programs.


As you can see, we've been very busy. We appreciate our S/MWDBE community and will continue to work and ensure that we Educate, Connect, and Grow small businesses.


Truly yours,


Carlecia D. Wright

Anchor5Informal Bids: Tips from the Experts 


Many of our certified firms ask us how they can get access to informal bids - solicitations valued at $50,000 or less for goods and nonprofessional services. Informal bids are classified as regulated contracts to attract S/MWDBE participation, which is good news for certified firms! When there is a capable City certified S/MWDBE firm, the requesting department is required to solicit bids from that company. In addition, the requesting department is required to solicit participation from no less than three certified S/MWDBE's if there are three or more capable firms. The Office of Business Opportunity interviewed Strategic Purchasing's Deputy Assistant Director, Ray Durousseau, and Purchasing Manager, Angela Jackson, to gain some insight into successfully attaining informal bids.



First things first, be proactive and register as a Supplier/Vendor with the City. Firms must create an online web account, which is required to register as a City Supplier and receive a Supplier Number. When registering, be sure to enter the correct contact information and provide an accurate phone number and e-mail address. The average turn-around time for an informal bid is 3-5 days. Inaccurate contact information could cost you the bid.


Market Yourself

Market yourself well and accurately! When registering as a supplier, be specific when listing the services your firm performs or provides. Select all National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP) Commodity Codes that apply to your firm. NIGP Commodity Codes are used to identify a supplier by their specialty, trade and/or line of business, so it is important that you select all the commodity codes that apply to your firm. Avoid selecting miscellaneous. Departments rarely use miscellaneous as a search filter when searching for vendors. The quality of your services is paramount. It is not to your advantage to "low ball" a bid or take on a bid that your firm does not have the capability to perform.



Research the City of Houston departments and network with Departmental Purchasing Units (DPU) that align with the services your firm provides. Visit the SPD website to find a list of DPU contacts. Attend events such as "Meet the Buyer" or "Government Procurement Connections" and follow up with the individuals that you meet at these events.


Following these helpful tips will eventually lead you to success. The Office of Business Opportunity encourages you to take the steps to register, market yourself, and network! Anytime during the biding process, if you have a question or need assistance, contact the individual who sent you the bid. One last thing, don't forget to sign the bid!

Anchor95 C's of Credit: Character   

By Sean Terrazas, Credit Underwriter - Houston Business Development, Inc.

How do lenders determine the credit worthiness of borrowers? In general, financing institutions determine who they will extend credit to based upon five key factors or the "5 C's of credit:" character, capacity, capital, collateral, and condition. Character, being one of the root qualities and foundation for other borrower characteristics, describes the manner in which borrowers manage all aspects of their financial lives. The quality lends itself to the general impression you make on prospective lenders or investors, and allows institutions to form a subjective opinion as to whether or not you are sufficiently trustworthy to repay the loan and/or achieve an exit strategy. Institutions evaluate financial information, educational backgrounds, experience in business, and the quality of trade references amongst other items to fuel their decision making.  


The overall character of individuals and businesses is also displayed through the handling of credit. Borrowers' who effectively ration their monthly cash flow are able to pay monthly "contractual agreements" - bills that may include real estate mortgage payments, installment loan payments, revolving debt payments, and auto loan payments to name a few - ahead of due dates with money to spare. Generally speaking, a contractual agreement involves receiving something of value now with the intention to repay the lending institution at some later date.  


Paying obligations in a satisfactory manner, on a consistent basis, establishes a positive "reportable" borrowing history which enables creditors to disseminate the information to credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) - information that drives credit scores upwards. The FICO score (Fair Isaac Corporation) is a popular scoring method used by lenders which analyzes credit information reported to apply a credit score between 300 and 850. On average, borrowers tend to score in the 600 - 800 range with those scoring in the 720 and above vicinity being able to obtain the best terms. Conversely, those borrowers scoring in the range of 620 and below tend to encounter more challenges in obtaining credit.  


The credit scores take into account the number of open accounts, current account balances versus the original amount or credit limit (usage), the number of months / years that accounts have been paid, payment performance, number of credit inquiries, and other indicators to determine the likelihood of default. Although this is not an exact science, the FICO score is a strong indicator of the propensity to pay and recognized by lenders as such across the industry.  


Whether you are a sole proprietor or corporation, credit should never take a back seat to managing your business. The challenging credit environment will always demand scrutiny of character, and credit is one of the key ingredients to establishing lender rapport. Through various loan products, HBDi is able to provide low-interest rate financing for working capital, equipment, furniture and fixtures and real estate acquisition ranging from $5,000 to $5 million.  To learn more about the services of HBDi contact a loan officerat 713.845.2400.

Anchor6Success Story: Gilbreath Communications


Audrey Gilbreath, President and CEO of Gilbreath Communications, took a leap of faith when she launched her business in 1990, while on maternity leave from her job at an advertising agency. With a radio and television degree from Grambling State University and years of experience, Gilbreath was able to launch a successful firm that provides advertising, graphic design, and public relations services. Gilbreath learned about certification at a SCORE workshop, and shortly after, became certified as a Minority, Woman and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise.


The firm's first full time employee was hired during the first year of business, and Gilbreath's first clients were Meridian Oil and Texaco. Initially working from a home office, Gilbreath quickly moved her business to an executive suite and the firm thrived from that point forward. The award winning firm has an enormous client base that includes: Port of Houston, City of Houston, Workforce Solutions, Shell, Chase, Department of Homeland Security, CenterPoint Energy, and the Houston-Galveston Area Council.


Gilbreath has been featured in many publications locally and nationally such as the Houston Business Journal, Entrepreneur, and Black Enterprise. Professionally, Gilbreath has served, and continues to serve on many boards. Being selected as the first African American female to be inducted into the Southwest Advertising Hall of Fame is Gilbreath's most prestigious accomplishment. Gilbreath Communications is located in Katy, Texas and employs eleven full time staff.

Gilbreath Communications
Audrey Gilbreath, President and CEO
Anchor7Success Story: Oxford Builders Inc.

After leaving his position as a project manager William P. Sanchez realized there were no jobs available that required the need to hang doors. In 1996, Sanchez established Oxford Builders Inc., a construction company that specializes in doors, hardware installation, and rough carpentry. Sanchez began his business from a home office and quickly moved to a new, larger location as a result of increasing sales and the need to more efficiently communicate with his employees. He heard about the City's certification program through the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), and shortly after attending a pre-certification workshop, Oxford Builders became a Minority and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise. In its first year of business, Oxford Builders had fifteen employees and generated a million dollars in gross sales.


Later, the company experienced increased competition and decreasing sales. This led Sanchez to expand the services of Oxford Builders to include finish carpentry, louver installation, cementations product installation, decks, ramps, stairways, wall protection, custom cabinets and furniture, as well as the installation of Owner Furnished Contractor Installed Equipment. In addition to expanding services, Sanchez hired an experienced estimator whose primary responsibility was to price jobs more cost effectively. This business maneuver resulted in the company once again experiencing an increase in gross sales dollars.


Currently Oxford Builders Inc. is located in north Houston and employs 32 full time staff. The company's clients are prime contractors and to their success, they have completed projects that include libraries, hospitals, fire stations, airports, schools, universities, and a hotel. Sanchez credits his company's success to having a good collections department and well trained employees.
Oxford Builders
William P. Sanchez, President

Congratulations to Our Newly
Certified  Firms!

Airtech ServicesAlcott, Inc.Alternator Exchange, LLC│ATI-CM, Inc.

Aranda Brothers Construction, Inc.Associated Lumber Enterprises Batterson, LLPBiomedent, Inc.Bynum Enterprises, Inc.CAP KICK COMPANY  

Cari C's Company, Inc. Certitech SolutionsClassic Paint & Wallcovering Services, Inc. Clean and Fresh Cole Chemical & Distributing, Inc. Creative Business Forms  

Data Agility Group, Inc.Division 26 TechnologiesE/A Electrical Automation

Enviro-San CorporationEnvironmental Consultants International, LLC 

FCM Engineers, P.C. Finest Auto Body and Paint Fivengineering, LLC 

Flourish Home Health Care Inc. Forward Real Estate, LLC 

Frank D. Flores and Associates Gandy Squared Lighting Design  

George E. Johnson Construction, LLC. George E. Johnson Properties, LLC  

Global Coffee Company Green Light Contracting, Inc. Gulf Coast Grouting Inc.

Hands On, LLC Hart Custom Homes, LLC Hart Plumbing Southwest, LLC

Hercules Industrial Hillco Building Service LLC Innovative Payroll Service, Inc.

Joyce Deyon-Sallier CPA K.S. Halpern, Inc. KeenCo LLC Kleen Supply Co.

Koach Konsulting, LLC Kung Solutions LLC L T Baehr, Inc. Law Office of Jan Clark Le Traffic, LLC M&M Supertech Macias Constructions

Mars Construction Services, LLC Mega Energy, LP Micro Air Of Texas, Inc. 

Mitchell Paint & Wallcovering, Inc. Moreno Engineering, Inc. MRJ Logistics LLC Neera Associates, Inc. Neutex Advanced Energy Group, Inc. Newman & Padgett, LLC Olivier, Inc. Ontime BI, Inc. P&D Professional Services, Inc Peden Industries, Inc. QC Laboratories, Inc. Quality Reefer Service, Inc. Quentin Hightower Electric, LLC Reminisce Marketing Safal Partners Inc. Selrico Communications, LLC SimpleTech SolutionsSolarnet Power The Future Inc. Solid Foundations, Ltd. StoneStore Partners, LTD. Subkool Mechanical Contracting Co. Talafery Media Group, Inc. Tell Your Tale LLC The Global Speak Network 

Transitair, Inc Triton Supply, Inc. Upscale Real Estate of Texas, Inc. Weber-Balke Foundation Company, Inc. Wilson Electrical Contractors, Inc.

We welcome your comments or suggestions. Please e-mail External Affairs Manager, Roger Harris, at

Educate. Connect. Grow.