By Ariana Billingsley, SBTDC/PTAC counselor at East Carolina University
Sheila Tripp had worked for over 25 years in the electrical supply business when early last year the owner of the company she worked for decided to close the business. In a moment’s notice she found herself unemployed, but knew she needed to exploit her 25 years of experience in some capacity. The notion of her starting her own business is actually quite common for people in Sheila’s position, but for her it was not. Sheila had never worked for herself nor had she ever entertained the idea that one day she would own her own business.
With much encouragement and support from her family she decided that maybe running her own business was not as scary as she thought. In July 2014 she reached out to the Small Business Center at Craven Community College for advice in starting her business. The SBC Director invited the local PTAC counselor to the initial meeting as they determined early on the client might have potential in the federal contracting arena. During my first counseling session with Sheila it was quite clear that she was familiar with the marketing piece of government contracting. Where Sheila required assistance was on the administrative side of the process, i.e., registrations and certifications. Sheila and I spoke at length during the counseling session and the days and weeks that followed. LST Electrical Supply Company incorporated in early August 2014, by the end of September she had registered in the system for award management (SAM) and self-certified as a minority and woman-owned small business.
LST closed 2014 strong, reporting a profit after only 5 months in business. The business is showing steady growth and Sheila estimates that 80% of her sales are through government contracting primarily as a subcontractor. Her registration and certification satisfied the prime contractor’s initial requirements, but also provided LST the exposure needed so other prime contractors would consider LST as a subcontractor LST.
Sheila’s success is a testament to her hard work, dedication, leadership, and experience in managing/owning a small business.