Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Glenn Hegar

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HUB Mentor Protégé Spotlight

Building Partnerships through the Mentor-Protégé Program
May 2011

  • State Agency Sponsor: Texas State University
  • Mentor: Sullivan Contracting
  • Protégé: Allied Associates
  • Industry: Special Trade Construction

Texas businesses help lead others to success

Many of the world’s great leaders, teachers, scientists and others have had a common influence in their lives — great mentors. In the business world, following the footsteps of an experienced partner can be just as important.

“As business owners, we’d like to think we know the answers to all the questions, but we don’t,” says Elma Demory, owner of Allied Associates Commercial Floors. “We need people like Sullivan Contracting to help us — and I think in some ways we help them, too — in the business world.”

As part of the state’s Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB) Mentor/Protégé Program, Texas State University in San Marcos sponsors the relationship between Sullivan Contracting and Allied Associates. Both businesses are certified as historically underutilized businesses in the Texas Comptroller’s HUB program, which fosters relationships between prime contractors and HUBs to facilitate their growth and development.

San Marcos Matchmakers

The university began sponsoring mentor/protégé partnerships in 2000 with the hope that the established businesses Texas State uses for various jobs could help build the reputations and skills of their HUB protégés.

The effort also helps Texas State satisfy its strategic sourcing initiatives, making the university’s supply chain more efficient and cost-effective by reducing the number of vendors used for purchases.

“Take office supplies, for example,” says Rob Moerke, Texas State’s director of contract compliance. “We were able to narrow it down to two vendors. One is a HUB and the other is a mentor with a protégé business, so we all benefit.”

The mentor business generally will be larger than its protégé business, and may possess skills the latter lacks. This proves helpful in several areas, Moerke says, including business plans, financing, cost estimation, paperwork reduction and others.

“In construction jobs, for instance, the mentor business can assist in doing proper estimating, rather than the protégé having to come back and ask for a lot more money for the job,” he says. 

The Right Fit

Moerke says the Sullivan/Allied partnership has been one of the program’s best pairings.

“They are one of our more successful relationships,” Moerke says. “We get good reports back from our end users on both of them.”

Allied and Sullivan shared a business bond even before being paired in the program, having worked together on numerous projects since Allied’s creation in 2002. That familiarity and trust enhanced their mentor/protégé relationship.

“It’s a very positive program and relationship to be in,” says Allied’s Demory. “Being a part of the program is very important for us, because [it’s] an opportunity to ask questions and feel comfortable doing so.”

Many of those questions are related to the immediate job, of course, but the mentor’s counsel also include can advice on handling personnel issues and other matters away from the job site.

As a general contractor, Sullivan Contracting performs most of the work it does without subcontractors, which is somewhat unusual, according to owner Kelle Sullivan. Flooring, however, is one area the company has never pursued, she says, and having a reliable partner in Allied helps to speed the job process, reduces paperwork and helps sustain the company’s reputation with Texas State.

“We’ve worked hard to establish that dependability and respect and we work just as hard to maintain that,” says Kelle Sullivan, the company’s owner.

Most of Sullivan Contracting’s jobs fall between $10,000 and $60,000 per contract, Sullivan says, which has been perfectly suited for a company such as Allied. As bigger-ticket jobs come along, however, Sullivan’s trust in its protégé company’s work has helped Allied grow into a reliable partner for larger contracts.

“In some of our bigger jobs, I might have been inclined to look more toward other subcontractors,” Sullivan says. “But because of our work with them in the mentor/protégé program, we have trust in and respect for their work. It makes it smart to stick with what works.

“And we both have the same mentality in business,” she says. “We’re not in it to get rich. It’s more important to have a long and healthy relationship with Texas State, as committed contractors to service the needs of the university. We have a very good rapport with the administration and directors there and we groom that relationship just as we do ours with Allied Associates. That continued partnership benefits us all.”

View more information on the Texas State University HUB Outreach Program.

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