As a child, Vicki Gray loved watching how carpenters and other contractors fixed things. “I realized I was handy,” she says. So even after beginning a career in healthcare administration, she harbored the dream of owning her own home repair business.
Vicki pursued her dream and started New Chapter Home Improvement, offering commercial and residential painting and property maintenance services in the greater Boston area.
Vicki started to secure customers, however, she quickly came up against a barrier. It’s the critical barrier that keeps so many small firms, especially those owned by people of color and women, from taking part in Boston’s multibillion-dollar building boom.
The catch-22 is that without capital, you can’t get large jobs because you wouldn’t be able to cover months of payroll and hefty insurance premiums. But if you don’t get large jobs, you’ll never be able to access capital. And so on.
“I went to so many places and took so many classes,” she says. “But until I got to JPNDC, I never found anyone who could help me solve this problem.”
JPNDC, leveraging its network as a developer, connected Vicki with a mentor from a successful construction company. Detail by detail, he walked her through the process of submitting bids to large firms and shared insider tips for winning those contracts.
And JPNDC advocated with its own property management company to widen its eligibility for subcontractors so that small businesses could apply. In just one year, Vicki won 14 of those contracts.
“As a business person, I appreciate that JPNDC has the attitude of ‘let’s do this,’” she says. “It’s inspired me to go farther than I thought possible, and hope for even more.”
Navigating leading a small business during the COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely difficult for Vicki, as she had to close her business entirely for two months due to the construction moratorium. “Losing all revenue for two months was brutal,” she said, but she is used to facing obstacles and has stayed focused on reopening her business and growing her team.
Vicki’s firm, and her revenue, has grown significantly since 2018. She has secured a large federal contract working on repainting barracks at the Navy Shipyard, city contracts at City Hall, along with consistent business through local jobs. Her team is growing and Vicki has set big goals for her future, both professionally and personally.
She is currently working with a business coach to strengthen her business, allowing her to focus on growth and step back from the day-to-day operations. She will continue to hire more employees and contract more projects at a time. And Vicki’s biggest passion is motivational speaking, empowering women and teams to pursue their dreams.
“It goes to show you that if you give small business owners like myself the right connections and resources and guide them, they can be sufficient and successful.”