Pioneering a solution for small business requirements

Proud to be DBE certified!

If something that normally takes 60 days can be compressed into one day, there’s probably a big benefit associated with that. That’s the thinking our Interstate 275 team in Tampa had regarding getting owner-operator truckers certified as disadvantaged business enterprises.

Our joint venture team’s $215.4 million contract with the Florida Department of Transportation has a goal of awarding 8.6 percent of that amount to DBEs, which are small businesses that are majority owned by individuals that are both socially and economically disadvantaged. To help achieve this goal, our team – in joint venture with Ajax Paving – awarded a $6.7 million contract to JMS Trucking, a DBE-certified hauler. JMS relies on owner-operator truckers, and many of them weren’t DBE certified, though they were eligible as minority- or woman-owned firms. But for our team to claim the full amount of JMS’ contract towards our DBE participation, both JMS and the owner-operators it uses needed to have that certification.

The DBE certification process can take up to 60 days, but our team thought there must be a quicker way of getting this done. They saw an opportunity for partnering, collaboration and innovation.

A different type of rodeo
Rodney Renix, Skanska DBE compliance officer, met with FDOT to discuss the possibility of having a DBE Certification Rodeo in FDOT’s District 7, which includes Tampa.

The rodeo would consist of an all-day workshop in which certifiable minority or women-owned businesses could come in with all of their documentation and complete the certification process on the spot. FDOT has a history of working with prime contractors and DBE firms to address the needs of the industry, and this clearly was a win-win situation for all parties involved.  FDOT committed to sending representatives to the event on a recent Saturday to handle paperwork, should at least 10 truckers commit to showing up.

Then it was up to the Skanska/Ajax team and JMS to deliver the truckers. This group spent several Saturdays at JMS’ office speaking with truckers about the potential benefits of becoming DBE certified. For those who were interested, Skanska and JMS worked with them over the next month to ensure their paperwork was in order. Some of the necessary documentation included proper identification, tax forms and proof of truck ownership.

Building the workforce
When it was finally time for the rodeo, 12 truckers walked away with DBE certifications – and smiles on their faces.

“No matter whom they’re hauling for, it doesn’t hurt them to have their DBE certification,” said Trey Foster, Skanska field engineer.

FDOT officials said this was one of the first such events held in the Sunshine State.

“The pilot program of certifying owner-operators as DBEs was a huge success,” Joyce Jolliff, FDOT District 7 contract compliance manager, said of the I-275 rodeo.

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