“In our industry, if you are small and trying to do government business, you probably are not doing it well. If you are large and trying to work with the government, you do not have the time to mentor the smaller companies that want to grow. That is why you need the people from SBDC and PTAC, to teach the small business owners how to be the contractors that agencies want to do business with.”
When the pandemic brought all their planned and existing construction projects to a standstill, Shannon and Kerlita Hacker of SH Mechanical began meeting regularly with advisors from the Solano SBDC and NorCal PTAC. They were determined to utilize this downtime in their industry to better their business.
SH Mechanical, Inc. is a general construction company specializing in commercial, industrial, new construction and retrofit projects with an emphasis on mechanical work. Kerlita “Carla” Hacker (President) and her husband Shannon Hacker (VP) began their business in Fairfield in 2007 and moved to their current location in Suisun City five years ago. They have had projects throughout California, including government contracting with the US Coast Guard, the Department of Forestry, the Department of Interior, and the National Guard.
Prior to 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hacker’s ‘dabbled’ in the no-cost advising services from both the Solano SBDC and NorCal PTAC for several years. But then the pandemic brought all projects to a screeching halt in a matter of days. SH Mechanical lost over $2 million in government contracts when the state closed. They had seven full-time employees. They needed to know what they could do to get through the crisis.
As an ‘essential business,’ SH Mechanical never closed. It was important to Shannon and Kerlita to utilize this time to benefit their business. The Hacker’s began regular advising sessions with the SBDC and NorCal PTAC, focusing on their business structure and operations. They received First and Second Draw PPP Loans and an EIDL Advance, which helped them to maintain their staff.
Since none of their projects were running, the team focused on deep cleaning their facility and equipment and ensuring safety. SH Mechanical received a Rebuild Solano’s Small Businesses Grant that allowed them to purchase a special printer that prints blueprints. Employees working remotely were able to send their blueprints to this printer which helped the company to be more efficient.
Kerlita and Shannon also took part in the Solano SBDC’s BizRx assessment, which is available at no-cost to any Solano County business owner or entrepreneur.
As the economy continued to re-open in early 2021, SH Mechanical saw their business steadily increase, both from new projects and those that were postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The Hacker’s continue to utilize the SBDC and NorCal PTAC.