Construction company has strong foundation in West Virginia
A nationally-recognized construction company was built from the ground up right here in West Virginia. BrooAlexa Design started in 2005 in a small office in Dunbar. Today, president Frances Brooks and CEO Gene Brooks enjoy views of the state Capitol building from their newly-renovated offices on Charleston’s East End.
BrooAlexa, an 8(a) certified and HUBZone company, focuses on finding creative solutions in master planning, design, construction and project management, primarily for government, healthcare and educational projects. The journey from their start as a trophy company to award-winning government construction was not one they made alone. The Brookses give credit to West Virginia’s small business programs for helping them avoid common pitfalls.
“They’re in the game with us,” Frances says. “Whenever we have a problem, they can help us write the corrective action plan. Whenever we come up against something we feel like we can’t handle, we’re not out there on our own. We actually have someone to call. Even though we don’t pay them because they work for the government, we know they are there to help us.”
The Brookses believe utilizing these services is one of the keys to a successful, thriving business.
“It breaks my heart when I see so many businesses in West Virginia open and then six months later they’re closed,” Frances says. “I feel like if they got help from the Small Business Development Center or Small Business Administration they would know how not to do that.”
In April 2011, BrooAlexa was one of 16 companies nationwide to be honored with the Small Business Achievement Award from the Department of Homeland Security. The company was chosen for exemplary work on the Advanced Training Center in Harpers Ferry. The dormitory and conference center includes 252 extended-stay rooms and a 6,160 square-foot conference center. Border protection guards will stay there while being trained in the recently opened, adjacent Leadership Academy. It’s a project the Brookses say they would not have received if it hadn’t been for their government relationships. Those relationships are just one of the positives of working in West Virginia.
“Being in a smaller state gives us the opportunity to build strong connections,” says Frances. “I don’t know how many people in other places actually get a call from their senator. Joe Manchin called from his office several weeks ago and asked for a private meeting with us and other small companies. I don’t know that you can get that in bigger areas.”
Both Gene and Frances are West Virginia natives who are grateful to be business owners in their home state, providing jobs for those who want to raise their families here.
“The workforce is loyal, multi-talented, well educated, and has a high level of integrity,” says Gene. “Those are things we have as West Virginians. We have good solid roots, we’re grounded, we can trust each other. Our employees feel like when they come to work they are part of a team. That’s what we stress. They’re willing to put in long hours. Because we’re West Virginians, we’re known all over the United States as very determined workers. We show up, do our jobs, do what we have to do and do it well.”