We have a lot to celebrate today. We have officially graduated from the US Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program. After 9 years of having the opportunities afforded us by being a participant, we felt it worthy of celebrating.
RHD would not be where we are today without this program. It provided us the ability to grow from grossing $180,000 per year in 2008 to just under $15 million. The 8(a) program provides equity to small, disadvantages businesses by allowing the federal government to direct award work and also restricts projects to 8(a) contractors in the region, limiting competition. RHD is just one of the many success stories from this program and we are extremely grateful to have been part of this program.
I have been asked many times over the last few years, “What will you do when you graduate”, “Are you worried about what will happen after you graduate” or some similar version of the same question. Truthfully, I had been. I was scared, worried and wondering what we could do. Then something occurred to me. What if I didn’t buy into the narrative that everything would change for the worse after the 8(a) program? What if I looked at our graduation as simply a graduation from a business program? Like graduating from college. What if we viewed the graduation as a stepping-stone, and an opportunity to present ourselves to the world again? We have spent the past 9 years learning, growing, making mistakes, and overcoming challenges to be whom we are today. And so we did.
We changed our collective mindset around the graduation. We started strategic planning and diversifying outside of the federal arena. We started a gorilla-marketing plan and became clear on our vision and purpose. We started aligning ourselves with partners that share our vision, values and desire to have fun. We purchased a building, which allowed our operations to be under one roof for the first time. I found that it immediately strengthened our team and their pride in having our own facility, I could not have anticipated. We worked with an innovative team to change our logo and website to better represent who we are today.
Today is about celebrating our growth, many lessons learned, our future, and acknowledging our partners and advisors that made it all possible.
Thank you to Amy Evans with Kidder Mathews, Justin Erickson and the board of directors at Harbor Wholesale, Clarita Maddox with the Port of Olympia, Blythe Mechanical, Caliber Electric, Reliable Electric, Skyline Painting Co, Custom Security and Action Furnishings with their support on the purchase and remodel of our new facility.
Thank you to Ana Singh with SBA, Tiffany Scroggs with the WA State PTAC, Brad Roberts with Hentschell and Associates, John Morton with John Morton Accounting, Megan Wise and her team at Heritage Bank, Shawn Hicks with Shawn Hicks Law, and Stephanie Henderson Stocker with Henderson Law. Thank you for your advice and support over the years. I could not have a better team of trusted advisors.
Thank you to Rebecca Blake and the team at Rusty George Creative for listening to our story and creating our new brand, logo and website. I will forever be amazed at how you captured who we are and translated it so perfectly.
Thank you to Wendy Simmons and Middle of Six for seamless planning and execution our ribbon-cutting and 8(a) graduation party.
Thank you to our many valued subcontractors, suppliers and clients that have continued to be critical to our success. We are grateful for your support and the relationships we have built over the years.
I would like to acknowledge my deep gratitude for my RHD team. Our company has evolved continuously over the past 9 years growing from single team member to 30. Your unwavering dedication to success is evident every day. Your stewardship of RHD is unparalleled. Your commitment to excellence, the way you show up and willingness to work through obstacles humbles me. You make RHD great. You have brought us here.