Lovell Couple Returns Home to Start Up New Business
December 10, 2008 — Devin and Stacy Bair took a chance to return to Wyoming to be near family members in Lovell and Byron. The move has paid off for the couple, who started a locally-owned construction business.
The Bairs credit some of their success to a University of Wyoming program that helps people start their own small businesses.
The Lovell couple started Bairco Construction, Inc., two years ago after moving from California. The company specializes in general contracting, concrete work, remodeling, demolition, earthwork, septic systems, gas/water/sewer lines, drywall, finish carpentry, flooring, irrigation, landscaping, tree removal, stump grinding and brush clearing.
What helped them become a successful locally-owned company was receiving a contract with various government agencies within the last year. At a meeting in Casper, they learned how to tap into the market to secure government contracting work.
They attended a Wyoming Government Procurement Opportunities for Small Business Conference, sponsored by the Government Resources and Opportunities for Business (GRO-Biz). A partnership among the University of Wyoming, Wyoming Business Council and the Defense Logistics Agency, GRO-Biz counsels and assists Wyoming businesses in selling their services and products to national, state and local governments.
Gro-Biz is part of the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC) and UW's WyomingEntrepreneur.biz Network that helps small businesses contract with the government.
With its main office located on the UW campus, the WSBDC is a partnership of UW, U.S. Small Business Administration and the Wyoming Business Council. The WSBDC helps to strengthen Wyoming businesses and create economic growth by providing management assistance, educational programs and helpful resources for Wyoming small businesses and entrepreneurs.
The WSBDC also offers low-cost educational forums and one-on-one counseling at no cost to participating businesses in areas such as planning, management, marketing, and finance. The WSBDC has regional offices throughout the state. For more information, call 1-800-348-5194 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
After attending the GRO-Biz conference, the Bairs sought more information about government procurement contracts and contacted Justin Hansen, in the GRO-Biz's Wyoming procurement technical assistance center in Sheridan, the regional office for the Big Horn Basin.
"He really helped us with the application process and gave us a lot of different contact information," Stacy Bair says. "Getting those types of government contracts is a difficult process, but Justin has been very helpful."
The Lovell couple has more than 20 years of combined experience in construction and business management. Serving as business manager and chief financial officer during her tenure with large construction firms in California, Stacy gained valuable experience working with federal, municipal and private contracts. Devin has managed various construction projects in Wyoming, Montana and California. His extensive trade knowledge helped him become a contract superintendent for various construction projects in central California.
"We tried to get into federal contracting and we got our first award last August. It turned out to be a great project that was high-profile and got us a lot of attention," she says. It was a joint venture with the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to construct a concrete fish barrier in Crooked Creek Canyon in the Pryor Mountains. Because of the canyon's remoteness, it was originally thought that a helicopter would be needed to lower concrete downward.
But most of the available helicopters were being contracted to battle summer forest fires and even if one was available, it would be treacherous to fly into the 700-foot Crooked Creek canyon.
Instead the Bairs constructed a pulley system that was anchored on the canyon's opposite side wall; and with a steady line, they were able to get the concrete to the bottom. The 36-feet wide, six-foot high barrier was constructed at a cost of nearly $375,000. By using the pulley system instead of using helicopters saved the two government agencies an additional $200,000. Washington, D.C. officials recognized the two agencies for the project.
That work has helped the Bairs move on to other government projects, and Hansen and GRO-Biz have helped lead the way.
Hansen also is assisting the Bairs with an application for certification with the Small Business Administration. They have completed other projects for the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Fremont County Airport, FAA.
Bairco is currently working with the U.S. Forest Service to replace the water systems and improve the Seeley Lake and Riverpoint campgrounds, located near Seeley Lake, Mont.
Their biggest challenge on this project is the delicate excavation work required to preserve trees within the campgrounds. Construction will begin during the "closed" season and campgrounds will re-open in the spring.
The company has expanded by securing government procurement contracts and the Bairs were able to add three full-time employees.
"Originally it was difficult to know how to secure those types (government) of jobs, but Justin has been very helpful," Stacy says.