Vazquez Commercial Contracting, LLC – Kansas City

Joe Vazquez, owner of Vazquez Commercial Contracting, LLC, wasn’t thinking much about construction.

Vazquez Commercial Contracting logoHe wanted to be an accountant.

He and his twin brother were such diligent students they were named University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Accounting Students of the Year. Vazquez was such a hot bookkeeping commodity that he had a job offer from a leading CPA firm 14 months before graduation.

“That was a relaxing time,” Vazquez reminisces of his last collegiate years. “I didn’t have to fight for a job at graduation like everyone else.” It was probably the last relaxing time he had.

He soon plunged into 80-hour-plus weeks and was being groomed for great things at the CPA firm. After five years, however, he’d burned out.

In the meantime, he’d married. His father-in-law owned a small construction firm performing mainly residential work. Vazquez had also gotten to know the construction industry in the course of multiple audits, discovering what worked and what didn’t. His father-in-law urged him to leave accounting and join him.

“He said, ‘Come work with me! I’ll show you what real work is, and you’ll earn a real wage,'” Vazquez says.

tall modern building

The Whittaker Federal Courthouse in Kansas City is one of Vazquez Commercial Contracting’s major projects.

Vazquez became a partner in the corporation as a project manager and de facto CFO.

But Vazquez wanted more. So his father-in-law encouraged him to found Vazquez Commercial Contracting in 2008.

Vazquez immediately joined the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City and “went to every possible meeting I could — General Service Administration (GSA) breakfast meetings, industry lunches, dinners, workshops. Being Hispanic, I found there were a lot of opportunities for minority-owned businesses.”

But, he says, he didn’t know where or how to properly market his services, which organizations to join and which to ignore.

“And it showed,” he says. “Our first year, revenue was $38,000, meaning income was nonexistent. I was going nowhere.”

In 2010, he began utilizing PTAC services. He’d also signed up for SBA 8(a) designation.

Vazquez Commercial Contracting has since been awarded 25 federal and state government contracts totaling more than $1 million from the GSA, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense and state of Missouri.

“Going from $38,000 to $1.3 million and 25 federal projects — that’s just phenomenal,” he says. “But I didn’t do it on my own. There’s no way I could have opened all those doors and grown my business in this economy. Too many things have happened that have just been amazing. God put me in this leadership role to grow the business, to pay it forward, to help people.”

Michelle “Shelly” Cunningham, procurement director, UMKC PTAC, says Vazquez’s dynamism, optimism and integrity helped open those doors. “And he’s a great spokesman for our program. He’s always very appreciative, even about the little things.”

modern highrise building

The Bolling Federal Office Building in Kansas City is a project on which both The Wilson Group and Vazquez Commercial Contracting participated.

Vazquez’s PTAC initiation was a three-hour training session. This led to deeper discussions with Cunningham and others on how to better identify government industry codes; navigate the maze of mandatory certification and registration; understand and write bid solicitation responses, technical narratives and the important capability statement; introduce Vazquez to prime suppliers; and identify federal, state and local government contracting opportunities through PTAC’s online bid matching service. A company like Vazquez’s can bid on a contract within hours, not days, using this service.

And he has done just that, with solid results: In 2011, Vazquez Commercial Contracting, LLC, was named the Minority Enterprise Development Construction Firm of the Year. In May 2012, the company was awarded a three-year, multi-million dollar basic ordering agreement from the Department of Defense for construction work at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. And this, says Vazquez, is just the beginning. He sees no reason the company can’t become a $20 million a year or larger firm.

Vazquez’s work ethic impresses everyone.

Here’s what the Army Corps of Engineers had to say about work performed on military bases in Kansas and Missouri:

“Throughout this project, Mr. Vazquez and his team have demonstrated exceptional customer service and attention to detail. In addition to completion of the scope of work, the Vazquez crew had mowed a yard of overgrown weeds, cleared vines from a stretch of fence, cleared trash from around the site, and fixed a sagging portion of fence with no request for additional compensation.

“Construction was completed early with zero modifications, a perfect safety record, on budget. We couldn’t have asked for more than that.”

Read the “Where are they now” updates about Vazquez.

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