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HUB Mentor Protégé Spotlight

Growing Together
October/November 2012

  • Author: Clint Shields
  • State Agency Sponsor: University of Texas at San Antonio
  • Mentor: DV Supply
  • Protégé: Labor on Demand

Texas Workforce Companions

The old saying “Look out for number one” has certainly helped plenty of businesses make a dollar. But sometimes, looking out for others can help, too.

“I believe that the best business tool a company has is to create business for their partners in business,” says Richard Tovar, marketing director for San Antonio-based Labor on Demand.

Labor on Demand provides permanent and temporary support staffing in the San Antonio area. Originally founded in 2003 by Lucinda Leal, Labor on Demand is a state-certified Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) — and half of the newest mentor/protégé team sponsored by the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).

Labor on Demand has worked before with DV Supply, the other half of its team, on federal contracts, and the two businesses have helped each other by alerting one another to various contract opportunities that suit their offerings. The partnership has also helped in Labor on Demand’s growth to about 200 employees. It’s that teamwork that makes both businesses eager to start working with UTSA.

“We have approached this as a team, and fortunately for us they have agreed to take us under their wing as we go forward,” Tovar says.

As part of the state’s HUB Mentor/Protégé Program, all Texas state entities with a biennial appropriation of more than $10 million must support mentor/protégé relationships. In these relationships, the mentor business is typically larger than the protégé, and may possess skills and experience of value to the protégé. This can be helpful in areas including business plans, financing, cost estimation, paperwork reduction and others.

Established Companions

The relationship between Labor on Demand and DV Supply is a bit unique in that the two businesses have already collaborated and the protégé partner, Labor on Demand is an established business and has worked with UTSA as well as the city of San Antonio, Alamo Community College and others before.

DV Supply, the mentor business, is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business certified by the South Central Texas Regional Certifying Agency for Bexar County. DV Supply began operations in 2009 and furnishes office supplies, promotional products and janitorial supplies. It also transfers offices for entities in the midst of a move, sells office furniture and supplies design services.

DV Supply and Labor on Demand initially came to work together through office moves.

“They provide some labor force to us when we do our furniture installations, and also help out if we need some extra delivery drivers,” says Walter Bane, DV Supply’s founder and a retired U.S. Army Colonel.

DV Supply wants to tap its partner’s background with municipal and educational contracts to expand its own business experience, while providing Labor on Demand with more staffing opportunities for DV Supply’s projects.

“We felt like we together we could make a great team in working towards state contracts, helping our business grow and learning from each other,” Bane says. “It’s been a good fit. They’re great folks and good friends.”

Even though the pairing is new to the UTSA program, Bane hopes the partnership will lead to university contracts in which DV Supply can use Labor on Demand for its staffing, and also larger opportunities for Labor on Demand outside of the mentor/protégé program.

“Labor on Demand actually brought the UTSA mentor/protégé program to our attention,” Bane says. “With the growth at UTSA, it’s very exciting as far as the potential.”

In addition to the success they’ve already shared as business partners, DV Supply has offered LOD free use of its office spaces in Houston, Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande Valley. The increased exposure to additional business opportunities in other markets appeals to LOD, Tovar says, and could certainly be a future bonus as they look to expand further into South Texas.

Business...and More Business

UTSA’s building program, including new office buildings, is expected to bring various departments, currently spread throughout San Antonio, to its main campus. That will mean construction and office design and supply contracts, which is where the DV Supply/Labor on Demand pairing could really benefit.

“The program is a definite foot in the door for both,” says Irene Maldonado, HUB program manager at UTSA. “For DV Supply, Labor on Demand’s experience here will help them learn the culture and the campus and its people. For Labor on Demand, it helps them get into some larger contracts as well as look into other projects within the university, but outside the mentor/protégé program.”

“We have never taken on business without being able to provide excellent customer service, making sure we could go above and beyond a client’s expectations,” Tovar says. “That has also helped our business grow.”

Labor on Demand’s educational contract experience also extends beyond just the two businesses by providing opportunities for students as well.

“When we do educational contracts, we recruit from the school first, whether it’s someone for simple labor or wanting to learn construction management,” Tovar says. “This is an effort to give those students work while they are there in school. And we’ve had other employees hired for temporary work that DV Supply ultimately hired on.”

Ultimately, one business helping out the other will continue to make the pairing a success. It’s the old mentality of “Dance with the one who brought you,” as Tovar puts it, and Bane agrees.

“Labor on Demand’s business doesn’t come solely from us,” Bane says. “They constantly alert us to potential jobs and we, in turn, recommend them for other staffing jobs that we run across that we feel they’re suited for. That’s what small businesses do, especially in an economy like this. You don’t leave any stone unturned.”

More information about these mentor/protégé companies is available online at dv-supply.com and laborondemand247.com. Learn how your company can participate in the HUB Mentor Protégé Program at window.state.tx.us/procurement/prog/hub/mentorprotege.