SHW Group, an educational facilities design firm, is seeking certified M/WBE subcontractors to assist with their work at Sterling High School, which is set to get a new campus under the district’s $1.89 billion bond program.
SHW Group’s Principal-in-Charge Jennifer Henrikson said the firm’s biggest goal in the 2012 bond program, which will replace or rebuild 40 schools across the city, is to do great work with the best team possible.
She said the SHW Group is reaching out to the M/WBE community to help achieve HISD’s goals and to encourage local, smaller firms to participate in the bond program at Sterling, which is among the first bond campuses slated for construction.
The district’s minimum M/WBE goal levels are 20 percent for all levels of purchasing and construction, and 25 percent for professional services. In the 2007 bond program, that commitment reached nearly 35 percent. In the 2012 program, the contracts awarded to date reflect a 51 percent M/WBE commitment.
Founded in 1945, SHW has nearly 300 employees and eight offices nationwide, including in Houston. Specifically, the firm is looking for prospective subs with experience in acoustical, sports field/track, and food services.
“Allowing the opportunity for everyone to participate is critical,” Henrikson said.
HISD’s Supplier Diversity Team Leader Bernard Willingham said the district was pleased that SHW Group is looking for potential M/WBE subs.
“It’s definitely a positive when firms involved in the bond program are able to look at their plan and scope of work and make room for more M/WBEs to participate,” he said.
Willingham said the district’s M/WBE program helps small businesses gain access to capital and resources available to their larger counterparts.
“In an organization like HISD, the public expects us to be community conscious,” Willingham said. “Programs like this help us to achieve a level of those expectations.”
Houston Metro’s Small Business External Relations Officer Tiko Reynolds-Hausman doesn’t need any convincing about the importance of including M/WBEs in large contracting projects. She said M/WBEs contribute to the local economy and bring a variety of solutions to problems.
“Houston is so diverse it’s important to engage different cultures for the added values in schools,” Reynolds-Hausman said. “There may be insight the local, smaller firms can give the general contractors about the school’s surrounding community.”
Reynolds-Hausman said the biggest asset small businesses and M/WBEs contribute to larger contractors is their ability to adapt quickly and shift direction on changing projects because of their small size.
“Flexibility is extremely valuable in projects,” Reynolds-Hausman said. “M/WBEs bring diversity and a variety of solutions to our problems. The have tenacity, ‘can-do attitudes,’ and they care so much about end result of projects.”
The design phase of Sterling has already begun with construction slated to begin mid-late 2014.
Certified M/WBEs interested in learning more about potential opportunities with SHW Group should contact Ashlea Hogancamp at 713-548-5700 or via email at email@example.com