This is a new initiative of the Small Business Committee to highlight member firms or individuals that are small businesses to show how membership in the WBC has helped small businesses succeed and to help new members use all the resources that the WBC has to offer.
Anne Marie Tombros has been in the construction industry in the Metro DC area since 1985. She started working for general contractors before working in the construction consulting arena, so she understands the demands of prime contractors, subcontractors, and owners. She has been involved in the WBC since 2006. In 2009 she started her own consulting company, Vango Consulting, a woman-owned small business providing construction CPM scheduling and project controls services. She is currently serving the second year of a three year term as a member of the Board of Directors for the WBC.
WBC: Can you say a few words about how you were introduced to the WBC?
Anne Marie: I was introduced to the WBC when I worked for Exponent back in ’06. Shortly after becoming a WBC member I joined the Community Services Committee. After I started Vango in ’09, I joined WBC as a small business member and continued being involved in the Community Service Committee and later the small Business Task force.
WBC: How did you decide to start Vango?
Anne Marie: During the downturn in 2008, the company I was working for had started to downsize and I saw the handwriting on the wall. I decided then to prepare for the worst and began developing a plan for my own company. I started Vango in early 2009 and for the first 6-months focused on marketing my firm and acquiring as many small business certifications that I qualified for.
WBC: How has the WBC helped you to grow your business?
Anne Marie: Because of the WBC I was able to meet many GC/Subcontractor decision makers, that, as a small business, I would never have been able to market to.
WBC: What was your role in getting the Small Business Committee started?
Anne Marie: Off-line a number of WBC directors had talked about the need to attract small business to the organization. At the annual WBC Board of Governors meeting in 2010, Don Owen (The Justin Company), Joel Zingeser (Grunley Construction), and myself put the idea of a small business committee to the audience. The governors voted and the three of us volunteered to start the process. The Small Business Task Force was started in 2011 and the Small Business Committee started in in 2013.
WBC: What are some words of advice you would give to a new small business member that has just joined the WBC?
Anne Marie: There are a number of things; first, join a committee. Find one that interests you. The WBC website has a lot on information about each committee and of course Steve or Rita at the WBC can assist. When you join a committee, you have a chance to have one on one conversation with potential clients. Second; find a member of the Small Business Committee at an event and introduce yourself. It is hard to walk into a room of strangers and work the room solo. A member can help introduce you to people who can help you grow your business. The committee members are listed on the website and the members who are attending events are listed as well. Check out the list before attending an event. This is a great tool that the WBC generates that lets you have a plan for who you want to meet at a networking event.
WBC: What value do you think that the WBC offers small businesses?
Anne Marie: The fee for joining is very competitively priced. Even if you only have a small marketing budget, I would say to spend the $485 to join the WBC. The classes and seminars have great content, are concise and educational, and are inexpensive. The committees are always looking for members to join. Just get involved.