Each year, the Oregon Coast Community College Small Business Development Center picks a “Business of the Year” from the ranks of its Small Business Management Program. This year, the decision was tougher than most. Forty businesses — the largest group in the program’s history — participated in the SBM in 2020-21. Driven by concerns founded in COVID, or questions about the opportunities and challenges that will no doubt follow it, the group was varied and talented, and driven to succeed against all odds in an unprecedented time.
Even among these shining stars, one shone especially bright. Nava Construction, based in Toledo, took home the Business of the Year honors. Though the Nava crew has been working in Lincoln County since 2010, it formed it’s business in 2017.
“We started with a landscaping business,” said Brenda Nava, “and we kept getting requests for roof jobs, remodeling, and fencing. We did odd jobs here and there helping friends and we enjoyed the work that we decided to change from landscaping to contracting.”
Brenda notes that the challenges their business faced in recent years are familiar to many other businesses of all types here on the coast. Her biggest challenge? “Finding workers that want to work. And, being able to take time off to for ourselves and our families.” Sound familiar?
While the uncertainty of the COVID era was a challenge, the Nava crew just so happened to start one of its first new-home framing projects at the start of that period, which Brenda says helped the company stay afloat despite the pandemic and the wildfires.
Nava Construction secured an SBA forgivable PPP loan during the SBM program, along with a lot of other benefits. “We learned a lot in the SBM regarding programs that are available to us as the owners,” Brenda said. “The program also touches other topics that we didn’t even think of, and how they could help us achieve our goals as a business.”
If the business was inspired by the SBM program, the feeling was mutual.
“I can’t think of a business I’ve worked with that worked as well as a team as the group at Nava,” said Misty Lambrecht, the coordinator of the Small Business Management Program at the OCCC Small Business Development Center. “Whether it is related to the day-to-day operating of the business, or at any given worksite, everyone knows their roles and does it efficiently. They are like a fine-tuned soccer team, handing off projects and tasks from person to person on the way to successful completion. It’s impressive to watch”
Lambrecht noted that the whole Nava Construction team attended each SBM class session. This was a critical investment in time, as every hour spent in the classroom was an hour not spent on a jobsite. However, the inclusion of the team in every session meant each was able to hear every lecture, conduct every exercise, and hear every guest speaker, ensuring that each was exposed to the same ideas and concepts to discuss and deliberate later, together.
Brenda said her crew would definitely recommend the SBM program to other Lincoln County businesses. “They not only help with information in running your business,” she said, “but they are also there for any questions you may have and to steer you towards programs that can help you. We definitely learned a lot more than what we thought we knew before starting the program.”
Reach Nava Construction at 541-272-4932.
Lambrecht presented the team from Nava a gift in recognition of the award: a deep-sea fishing adventure for the entire team, with Tacklebuster Sportfishing of Depoe Bay. Tacklebuster, owned by Tyler Turner, is a past SBM business of the year.
The SBDC is currently recruiting interested candidates for the Small Business Management Program for 2021-2022. The program will begin in the fall of 2021 and runs through June 2022. The program features monthly classes, many of which feature guest speakers who are experts in their fields on a variety of different topics. The program also features monthly one-on-one advising sessions with Lambrecht or another SBDC advisor. The cost of the program is $200 per academic term, and there are scholarships available, including 100 percent tuition scholarship from the city of Lincoln City for any Lincoln City business, along with a similar program in Waldport. Other entities, ranging from Northwest Oregon Works to the Toledo Rotary Club, have offered scholarships in the past and such opportunities may be available for the new year from these or different organizations.
To learn more, call 541-994-4166, or visit oregoncoast.edu/small-business-management/.