In honor of National Small Business Week we did an interview with Founder and President, Scott Matheny on the inspiration and the journey of being a small business owner for the last 14 years. He has endured through great challenges of the economy, created a company culture of high engagement, and help create a better community to support our countries heroes.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START A SMALL BUSINESS?
I had always been in the federal contracting business working as a carpenter and laborer throughout college and as a construction manager after college. In 2000, I went to work for the USDA Forest Service as a Civil Engineer and Contracting Officers Representative which provided experience working on the government side of the fence. In 2004, President George W. Bush signed into law executive order 13360 which established a new SBA program for Service Disable Veteran Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB’s). As federal agencies began setting aside contracts for SDVOSB participation, I saw an opportunity to take the knowledge I had gained as both a contractor and a federal employee and start a new construction firm focused on federal contracts. I made the very scary jump to start my own business in July of 2008.
WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE IN GETTING SEMPER TEK OFF THE GROUND?
Not long after turning in my notice to my current employer, the US economy fell into a massive recession due to the collapse of the housing industry. This created enormous financial challenges to new businesses like mine. However, by working for other firms in the industry as a consultant and winning our first federal MATOC contract in 2008, Semper Tek was able to weather the storm of the great recession and indeed grow its experience and capability through a very challenging period. As we became known to our clients as an honest firm with a high level of attention to customer satisfaction and quality work, Semper Tek’s reputation grew as one of the better SDVOSB firms in the region. This commitment to client satisfaction provided opportunities for continued growth in the years to come.
HOW DOES SEMPER TEK DIFFERENTIATE ITSELF FROM OTHERS IN THIS INDUSTRY?
Semper Tek and its employees take pride in being fair, reasonable, professional, and honest in every aspect of the business. We strive to set ourselves apart by providing better services, cutting edge industry technology, and meticulous attention to satisfying our customer’s needs. Every project is treated as a partnership between our management team and the clients we serve. In short, while we understand we will not be the only contractor an agency uses, we always strive to be the best contractor that they will use.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES YOU’VE FACED AS A SMALL BUSINESS AND HOW HAVE YOU OVERCOME THEM?
As a small business involved in government contracts, we are often faced with the challenge of finding qualified employees in an industry that is already highly strained for personnel resources. By striving to be the best in our industry, we hope to attract the best of the best in our field. We strive to always treat our employees with respect, honesty, and fairness. Each employee at Semper Tek is not only valued for their hard work and dedication to the firm’s mission but also valued for who they are as individuals. We work hard to identify the strengths that each employee has and put them in a position that best suits those attributes and allows them to grow as construction professionals. We consider our employees to be our most valuable asset.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS THINKING ABOUT STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
In short, be prepared to work longer and harder than your competition. There is no replacement for hard work and laser focus on your end goal. You will likely face numerous challenges along the path to growing a successful business and many of those challenges and hurdles cannot be planned for or foreseen. When you do face barriers, be willing to put your head down and push through them with great resolve. At the end of every challenge you face will be a new lesson learned and an opportunity to become a better company as a result of those challenges.
HOW HAVE YOU ADAPTED TO THE CHANGING BUSINESS MARKET ESPECIALLY WITH THE RISE OF TECHNOLOGY BEING A SMALL BUSINESS?
Be flexible! No one knows what may be coming around the corner. Who could have predicted a worldwide pandemic that would shatter the economy and life as we know it? Remain ready to modify plans, adjust strategies, and react to the unknowns that come your way. Never be closed minded to new ideas or technologies and surround yourself with trusted people who may have different points of views and be willing to listen so that you can consider different possible solutions to most every challenge you face. Never stop thinking about ways to make the business better tomorrow than it is today and continually reinvest in the business as you grow.
WHAT ROLE DOES SEMPER TEK PLAY IN THE LOCAL COMMUNITY?
As a federal contractor, our firm provides services that often impact our Veteran and Military communities. We hope that each project we undertake will positively impact those communities whether it be a better patient care experience at a VA Medical facility or a project that brings better services to our active-duty military personnel. Semper Tek is passionate about our Veterans and Service Members and everything we do as a company including our charitable work, is focused on improvement in their lives.
HOW DO YOU SEE SEMPER TEK EVOLVING AND WHAT GOALS DO YOU HAVE FOR ITS GROWTH AND SUCCESS?
Semper Tek is already viewed as one of the premier SDVOSB firms in the industry and we are well known throughout the Southeast US. My hope is to continue to maintain our highly respected reputation with our current customers and develop new client relationships within our current geographic footprint. Finding ways to be better tomorrow than we are today will always be a continuous focus of the business and a key to our continued growth and success.