environment, and cost-effective. They weren’t taking advantage of this technology.” Modular construction became increasingly interesting to her, so she left her accounting job. “I started this company because I wanted to try something different.”
Despite having no startup capital and using borrowed office space, Warrior made her move. With the help of friends and family to staff her venture, she launched Warrior Group.
One of the hurdles Warrior Group had to overcome was convincing potential clients of modular construction’s benefits. For example, the U.S. Army was leaning more toward renovating barracks rather than having new ones built. After several meetings, Warrior persuaded the Army to go modular.
Another trying time came a few years later in 2005, when a $1.8 million construction project in Chicago didn’t go as planned. “One of our senior project managers at the time was working with a major subcontractor and taking kickbacks from him,” Warrior recalls. “In addition, the subcontractor was doing deficient work, which put us behind schedule. By the time we found out about it from the contracting officer, we were way behind schedule. So we had to fire our project manager and the subcontractor and hire a new subcontractor to finish the work. In order to finish on time, we had to work double time and correct what was done. We lost quite a bit of money on the project—a little more than $1 million.”
Warrior was forced to lay off half of her staff of 20. “We had to get really lean. We still had some projects we were working on, but cash flow was an issue after that.”
A consultant recommended bankruptcy, but Warrior pushed through and contacted Texas Women Ventures Fund, an organization that invests in women-owned businesses. A $2 million loan from the fund allowed Warrior Group to hire a director of construction services as well as a chief operating officer and chief financial officer.
Feeling the Credit Crunch
It isn’t news that the recent troubles of the U.S. economy have affected the construction industry. Commercial starts have been hampered because some developers have had difficulty obtaining credit in a tumultuous market. Total starts for 2009 declined 18% for commercial buildings. However, there have been some signs of improvement. The total value of construction starts (excluding residential contracts) was $24.1 billion in January of this year, a 20.1% increase from January 2009. Consequently, Warrior Group saw an uptick in the amount of contracts secured.
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