Success Story…BETT Enterprises
For the last five years, Gayla Williams has been proving that she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to commercial painting.
Because of her reputation for quality work, Williams’ company, BETT Enterprises Inc., has grown from three to 21 employees, and gross revenue is expected to top more than $1 million this year. BETT provides a complete line of professional paint finishes for all types of commercial construction.
After working 10 years for a national paint company, Williams was offered the opportunity to serve as a project manager for a large paint contractor in Arkansas. Through this experience she learned all aspects of paint applications, building procedures and the bidding processes. When the owner of the company retired and closed up shop, Williams returned to Oklahoma and began researching her opportunities to start her own company in the Tulsa area.
Williams had developed many contacts among painting contractors, and she began to pick up small contracts from their overflow. Although work was slow, she began to build a strong foundation for a reputation of quality work. As work picked up, she began receiving requests from general contractors to bid their jobs.
However, growth proved to be an unexpected obstacle. As she began to grow, she realized she needed more capital to finance projects until payment for the work came in. That’s when she contacted the U.S. Small Business Administration for help.
“And, as they say, the rest is history,” Williams said. “Beginning my third year in business, it became evident that I needed some financial help and guidance,” Williams said. She met with John Blue, Director of the Northeastern State University Small Business Development Center in Broken Arrow. “Through John’s tutelage and assistance with the loan application, I was able to take advantage of a frowing market and a growing business. Since that initial contact with him and with SBA’s loan assistance, my business has grown 10 times over!” Williams said.
“John has since directed me and even walked me through specific certifications I need for my type of business. He continues to inform me of seminars and new programs as they become available. John encourages me to continue the ‘good work’ and he is always there to answer any of my questions. I don’t know what I would have done had I not met John,” she said. “He’s been a blessing and he’s fun to talk to.”
Blue said it was a pleasure to help Williams develop and expand her business. “It has been a pleasure to work with Gayla for the past two years. Her work ethics are second to none. I believe her woman-owned, commercial painting business could be a model for other small construction companies,” he said. “We are now working to position her company for the future, by obtaining various state and federal certifications, such as a woman-owned, SBA HUBZone, and bonding capacity. This will prepare her to compete in the government contracting arena, which will open up more opportunities for growth.”
Some people are still not used to seeing a woman in a hard hat at a construction site, Williams said. But her reputation for quality work has made it easier to get the respect of others in the field. “I’ve been blessed,” she said. “I’ve also been grateful for the family and friends around me who keep pushing me and telling me ‘You can do it!’”
A Midwest City native, Williams said she loves the freedom of being an entrepreneur. “One of my greatest benefits is the satisfaction I get from setting and achieving my own goals and watching this achievement turn into financial independence.”
Williams has this advice to others who are thinking about going into business: “Before any decision is made to start a new business, you should educate yourself in all aspects of operating the business you intend to become involved in. If at all possible, you should take a small business course which is offered by most local junior colleges. Past that, you should make a considered commitment to involve yourself 24/7 in the growth and management of your enterprise. More importantly,” Williams said, “believe in yourself and surround yourself with those who believe in you also.”
Williams keeps up with the changing construction market and is constantly looking for ways to expand her business. Right now her work has grown beyond the Tulsa area. She works jobs in Muskogee, McAlester, Tahlequah, Vinita, and Stillwater. She also has completed jobs in Arkansas and Missouri.