By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian
A Fairmont business owner has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration for his success.
RJ Williams of Reclaim Co. LLC has been named the SBA’s 2012 West Virginia Young Entrepreneur of the Year. In addition to getting this award for West Virginia, Williams is the regional award winner for the SBA’s Region III and is eligible to win the national award.
The SBA’s West Virginia District Office will honor Williams and the other state award winners during the 2012 West Virginia Small Business Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, May 30, at The Morgantown Events Center, as part of the Teaming to Win Conference. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Karen Mills, administrator of the SBA, will present the awards.
Judy K. McCauley, district director of the West Virginia District Office in Clarksburg, explained that the president of the United States proclaims National Small Business Week every year to acknowledge the efforts of the small businesses and owners who are creating most of the jobs in the nation and employing many people in the communities.
2012 National Small Business Week will be observed in Washington, D.C., from May 20-22. As part of that celebration, the SBA is honoring the top small business owners at the state, regional and national levels with its annual awards competition.
McCauley said the West Virginia District Office sent out a lot of announcements to let people know it was gathering nominations for the state awards. Once all the nominations were received, a panel of judges reviewed the proposals, and based on set criteria, made recommendations on the winners using a numeric rating.
“We encourage anyone to submit nominations, and you can nominate yourself,” she said.
While the state has some really good winners this year, RJ Williams is especially inspiring, McCauley said.
She said the recipient of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award must be less than 30 years old and a major owner of a company. He or she must have demonstrated achievement through sales and profits, current and past financials, and an increase in employment.
“They have to show that they are set for long-term success based on those financials,” McCauley said.
She said the fact that Williams won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award regionally is pretty impressive. In this award category, he was the overall winner for Region III, which includes West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Washington, D.C. There are 10 SBA regional offices in the country, and Williams will compete against nine other people for the national award.
Williams, 29, was born in Fairmont and graduated from University High School in Morgantown. He said a long chain of events led him to establish Reclaim Co. LLC on July 5, 2007. The business is located in Fairmont on East Grafton Road along Route 310.
At the age of 19, Williams began gaining experience through a Division of Highways on-the-job training. He got started in contracting working for Kanawha Stone Co. in Nitro, which did the excavation for projects like the University Town Center and the Suncrest Towne Centre in Morgantown.
He said his superintendent, Ike Lewis, was a great guy and took him under his wing and showed him what more of a supervisory role entailed. Williams got to know the budgeting process for projects and learned about the paperwork and management side of business.
He went on to work for some other local companies, but found there wasn’t much opportunity for him. After seeing “the need for a contractor to take care of the old dilapidated structures within the region,” he decided to fill out the paperwork with the Secretary of State’s Office to start Reclaim Co.
The business primarily focuses on demolition, asbestos abatement, environmental site studies of properties, excavating and mobile aggregate crushing.
In Fairmont, Williams’ business has done work on the West Virginia State Office Complex and the Gateway Connector and for the Fairmont Community Development Partnership. Reclaim Co. has also done projects for the Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line (TrAIL), the City of Morgantown, West Virginia University, American Electric Power and the Division of Highways.
In addition, the company does a lot of work in Pennsylvania and is moving toward Ohio.
Williams has 23 employees, and about 95 percent are from the tri-county region. He said he likes being able to change and better the lives of his employees in some small way.
Every project is a learning experience and Williams enjoys seeing his company’s sustained growth, he said. He is trying to transition to more federal contracting, and expand his work so it sustains more people for larger periods of time.
“What we’re looking to try to do is capture a lot more of that federal market,” Williams said.
Since 2007, revenues have increased substantially for Reclaim Co. and the operations keep growing, he said.
Williams said he got some assistance from Sharon Stratton, center manager of the West Virginia Small Business Development Center in Morgantown, as he was starting his business. She provided guidance on obtaining a business loan and took him through a step-by-step process. Stratton nominated Williams for the SBA award.
“RJ is very deserving of the young entrepreneur award,” Stratton said. “I’ve worked with him for over three years. He’s certainly a hard worker, and he’s very resourceful when it comes to finding ways to overcome obstacles. I’m very happy that he received the award and look forward to seeing him accept the award.”
Williams said he was honored and thankful to be nominated for the award, and surprised to win. He believes his company will benefit from this SBA award.
“I think it’ll be great as we expand,” Williams said. “It’ll make things somewhat easier in a business world.”
McCauley said Williams owns some of the major equipment needed to do demolition, which gives him a lot of subcontracting opportunities because not all companies have that advantage. Reclaim Co. is a green company and also works with asbestos, which provides an extra niche.
The company is certified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) through the state of West Virginia. Williams has also applied for the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program, which provides many opportunities through the federal government upon certification, McCauley said.
Other award winners from West Virginia include Gene T. Brooks Jr., president, and Frances Foster Brooks, CEO, of BrooAlexa LLC in Charleston, who are the 2012 Small Business Persons of the Year. Clovis B. Lawless, vice president and commercial loan officer for Community Trust Bank in Summersville, has been named the Financial Services Champion of the Year.
Also, Kimberley Beth Dole, owner of Dole Accounting Services in Martinsburg, was selected as the Women in Business Champion of the Year for the state. The Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Business of the Year award went to Lyle C. Tabb III, president; Howard C. Tabb, vice president; Jane M. Tabb, secretary; Lyle C. Tabb IV, treasurer; and Virginia D. Tabb, assistant treasurer, of Lyle C. Tabb & Sons LLC in Kearneysville.
Michael P. McKechnie, managing member, and Peter M. McKechnie, member, of Mountain View Solar and Wind LLC in Berkeley Springs, have been honored with West Virginia’s Entrepreneurial Success Award.
Although the SBA’s West Virginia District Office saw a decent amount of competition for this year’s awards, it hopes to get more nominations in the future, McCauley said.
“There are a lot of good companies out there that we still want to get further out into the communities and get recognized,” she said.
For more information, visit www.nationalsmallbusinessweek.com or www.sba.gov/wv.
Email Jessica Borders at firstname.lastname@example.org.