Alternative Mechanical LLC
Partners Dick Ortega and Kevin Fahl worked in the mechanical contracting business together for over twenty five years before finally making good on their promise to someday open their own business. Dick and Kevin’s knowledge and expertise of plumbing and mechanical work encouraged them to offer a service to their clients that was high value and at a better rate than their competitors. In February of 2004, with a well rounded background in industrial maintenance and large construction projects as well as supervision and management experience, they launched their small business, Alternative Mechanical LLC. The business offers plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning services to the construction industry.
Dick and Kevin not only wanted to offer more to their customers, they wanted to offer employees fair wages, benefits and growth opportunities. Certified as a Minority Contractor by the MMBDC it was also the foresight of the owners to provide opportunities to all persons within the community that it serves. Offering good paying jobs with solid benefits, training and growth potential for anyone who was willing to work hard and apply themselves. Today, Alternative Mechanical is very proud to have accomplished that goal, as nearly 40% of its employees are minorities and/or women. When asked, what makes your business exceptional, Dick replied, “The commitment and dedication of the workers and an eye for detail, but most importantly customer satisfaction.”
With over 55 years of experience between Dick and Kevin they had the skills necessary to succeed but they needed guidance on starting their business. They enlisted the services of Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC) Region 7, located in Grand Rapids to help them start their business. Dick attended two training sessions of the SBTDC’s Entrepreneurial Series “How to Write a Business Plan” and “Starting a New Business.” Dick worked closely with Dante Villarreal, Regional Director for Region 7. Their relationship is business and friendly at the same time. Dante has helped extensively by developing a business plan for Dick. The plan consisted of market trends, competitive business analysis, financials and management development. Dick Ortega was later able to take this business plan with him when he was meeting with lenders on trying to obtain financial assistance.
Dick is a true ambassador for the Michigan SBTDC. “When you walk out the door and you think to yourself about where to turn now? The SBTDC has all the resources,” commented Dick Ortega. Dick has met with many people who are interested in starting a business and tells them all the same thing, “The only time you should seek the services of the SBTDC is if you are serious about your business because they have everything you need to get started.” Carol Lopucki, State Director of the MI-SBTDC has met with Dick on numerous occasions and states, “Dick Ortega is an entrepreneur who strives to gain and utilize knowledge effectively and is committed to driving his business down a successful path. Dick has tapped the expertise of the SBTDC from launch through growth of the business.”
Today, Dante and Dick continue to meet, whether it is a causal drop by the office to get Dante’s opinion or conduct an in-depth meeting to discuss the future of the business.
Dante has been working with Alternative Mechanical for five years, and says, “It has been a pleasure to work with Alternative Mechanical and its strong leadership. These two successful entrepreneurs are very focused and committed to the growth of their company. At the same time, they are also doing what is right for their community and their workforce,”
Much of the success of Alternative Mechanical is due to part of the entrepreneurial spirit of Dick and Kevin but they acknowledge the MI-SBTDC for the invaluable resources and guidance that they have been provided with. With the economy on the downturn, Dick and Kevin’s business is growing and thriving with multi-year contracts signed with Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Community College and the City of Grand Rapids. “Relative to the economy, we are successful. One of the keys to success is partnerships with business owners, community activists, other mechanical contractors, and the continued willingness to accept diversity,” states Dick. Relationships are extremely important to both Dick and Kevin; they strive to maintain their business and community relationships while building new clientele. Dick says, “We cannot build the foundation for the future without building a bridge from the past.”
Dick and Kevin have developed an impressive folder of letters from their satisfied clients. Jim Van Dokkumburg, Director of Facilities for G.R.C.C writes, “Alternative Mechanical has performed successfully on several high-profile jobs at Grand Rapids Community College over the past three years. They have been a prime contractor on substantial renovation.” In addition to the appraises from clients, Alternative Mechanical has also received a plethora of awards some of which include: 2007 Best Minority Small Business Honoree, 2008 Best Small Business of the Year, 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year, 2009 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch.