Contra Costa SBDCPleasant Hill, CA

“We owe a lot to the Contra Costa Small Business Development business management consulting team who directed us in creating a profitable company.” 

Sonya Cravines

Company Profile: CGT Systems, Inc., is an electrical construction company that specializes in the installation of security, electrical and audio/visual systems. They service commercial, industrial and residential markets. The business started with three friends (Cravines, Gutierrez and Thompson; CGT) who met while members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union. Each friend specialized in a different area of electrical construction. After working together for several years on various commercial and industrial projects valued in the millions, they decided to combine their skills and start their own home-based business part-time in 2003.

They incorporated the business in April 2004 but decided to suspend business operations until they obtained a contractor’s license which took three years of perseverance before they finally received their C-10 certification in November 2006.

In April 2006, Mr. Gutierrez relocated to Southern California. At that time, Sonya Cravines joined the company part-time to manage the business operations, while still attending law school and working full-time as a paralegal.

Challenges: Sonya wanted to contribute to the operational success of the business and allow the other two partners to focus on what they do best: electrical contracting. All three partners agreed they were willing to do whatever it took to grow the business; but how to proceed was the question.

Actions Taken: After a long day of studying her law books at the library, she noticed flyers for free business management consulting and the ‘New Venture Training Program’, offered by the Contra Costa SBDC. In April 2006, Sonya was approved for the 12-week entrepreneurial training class. With the SBDC's guidance and systematic approach, she had a solid business plan for growth. She also continued her business management education by attending classes offered at the library and meeting with SBDC Consultants. The SBDC helped to create her brochure and direct mailers, assisted with the government bid process, and improved her pricing strategy and financial model. Sonya put her marketing plan in motion with a company website and an email marketing campaign. With the guidance of the SBDC team of consultants, Sonya has a solid business plan to guide the business growth and while preparing to become a successful entrepreneur.

Results: In February 2007, they moved to a commercial business location with a warehouse in Concord. Their sales have increased 900 percent from 2006 to 2007. They have outsourced a majority of their administrative support to local businesses in Contra Costa County. The business is also proud to give back to the community by donating time to their local church to install a burglar alarm and access control system.

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Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA or HSU Sponsored Programs Foundation.