Alicia Jimerson Did not Wish to Run Her Dad’s Development Agency – So She Began Her Personal

For being the fourth-largest metropolis within the nation, in terms of development, Houston, Texas, usually operates like a small city. All people is aware of all people, and that fits Alicia Jimerson simply positive.

Rising up the daughter of a well known and revered Houston contractor, Jimerson had no intention of going into development. However as destiny would have it, she began serving to out within the workplace of her dad’s firm, and after she graduated from school, she determined to strive her hand on the enterprise.

Somewhat than run her dad’s firm, Jimerson frolicked her personal shingle in 1989 to benefit from minority-owned enterprise provisions. Quickly after, she employed two expert veterans, Tony Bonner as normal superintendent and Tom Nugent as undertaking supervisor. Immediately, she has 45 workers, runs a $7 million to $10 million enterprise in Stafford, Texas, and is certainly one of Tools World’s 2021 Contractor of the Yr finalists.

However her first enterprise into the world of bid letting didn’t go precisely as she had hoped. At a gathering with Houston’s greatest normal contractor, “I obtained my ass chewed out,” she says. “He instructed me my numbers had been good, however subsequent time I got here in with a bid, I had higher convey some males with me, that if I didn’t, any person was going to benefit from me on pricing.”

Jimerson didn’t win the bid that day, however undeterred, she saved her head down and labored arduous. “It was tough to get doorways to open up. And I don’t assume I might have performed it with out the help of Tom and Tony,” she says.

Associations are gold

From the beginning, Jimerson knew one thing many contractors be taught the arduous means, if in any respect. She understood the important thing to getting enterprise as a small start-up was to construct relationships, to fulfill your friends, shake plenty of arms and cross out enterprise playing cards.

Thirty years in the past, Houston development could have been a membership of excellent ol’ boys, however that world was altering, due in no small half to the persistence of girls like Jimerson. She joined the Houston Contractors Affiliation and was elected to the board in 2008, then chosen as president in 2011. She was additionally a founding member of the Houston Girls Contractors Affiliation.

Simply because the relationships developed in development associations have been necessary to the success of Jimerson Underground, so has Houston’s Livestock Present and Rodeo. With greater than 100 committees and 37,000 volunteers, it is the most important livestock and rodeo present on the earth. It unites everybody from town’s billionaire oil barons to multinational companies, civic teams and native businesspeople in a typical function – producing greater than $500 million in scholarships for younger folks since 1932.

Jimerson joined one of many committees in 1989 and has steadily labored her means as much as vice chairman. “You’d be shocked at what number of contractors are concerned within the rodeo,” she says. 

Easy operations

To maintain up with the demand for its providers, Jimerson employed Dennis Wolford in 2006 so as to add some bandwidth on the administration facet. He’s now the vice president and retains all of the completely different departments working collectively easily.

Along with sustaining relationships exterior the corporate, Jimerson Underground has performed effectively by preserving its relationships with its workers robust. “Nurturing the relationships you might have with the individuals who be just right for you is necessary,” Wolford says. “It’s not a one-way road. They work for us, however we work for them as effectively. The individuals who have been right here 20 and 30 years know that.”

David Medrano, undertaking supervisor, (left) and Dennis Wolford look over estimates.Tools World“Your workers are usually not simply workers, they’re household,” says Jimerson. “Sure, you’re right here to earn a living, however you’re additionally right here to verify their households are taken care of. That’s what households do, and the long-term workers know that is residence.”

That concentrate on relationships and the ability and data of 30-year veterans like Nugent and Bonner have impressed Nelson Blackwell of Vaughn Development, an earthmoving normal contractor that does enterprise with Jimerson Underground. “They’re reliable,” says Blackwell. “They’re going to be there for you year-in and year-out. To them, it’s extra than simply the worth on the bid. They’re the folks you need in your group.”


The recession of 2008-2011 was a stark reminder of simply how necessary this philosophy was to the corporate. Staff went with out bonuses, and executives went with out pay for a interval, however the firm obtained by it with out resorting to layoffs.

One factor it did change through the recession was its philosophy about tools administration. Earlier than the recession the corporate would run tools “till the paint fell off,” says Jimerson. However the slowdown in work and the lack of money move made it important to promote many of the belongings that weren’t important to the work at hand. Immediately, tools acquisition and disposal choices are a lot extra strategic, says Wolford.

Jimerson Underground has additionally been rigorous about sticking to what it does finest. From time to time it’ll do a little bit of web site work for a good friend or longtime buyer, however the core enterprise is underground utilities – fundamental water and sewer installations.

“Our guys know water and sewer,” says Wolford. “From the workplace to the estimator to the permits to the sphere, all people is aware of precisely what to do.”

Proof that this philosophy works comes from buyer Falin Ishee at Turner Development. “From the beginning it has been a optimistic impression,” Ishee says. “They’re nice to work with, from the workplace workers to the sphere. Utilities are all the time a ache to cope with, however they make it simple. They’re one of the contractors who stand out.”

jimerson underground contractor texasTony Bonner, normal superintendent, (left) was the corporate’s first worker. Dennis Wolford, vice chairman, (proper) joined in 2006 to assist it develop.Tools World

Volunteer to win

Having damaged by the glass ceiling in probably the most male-dominated companies within the nation, Jimerson’s recommendation to those that wish to succeed is basically the identical for males or ladies – construct relationships.

It’s important to not simply be part of your native development and civic organizations, however to volunteer and get on committees in these organizations, Jimerson says.

“That’s the way you meet suppliers and different contractors that you could be work for sometime,” she says. “Even when it is only a 5-second introduction and handshake, they are going to at the very least know who you’re. When you get entangled, you’re going to get out of it what you set into it.”