Fundbox customer Carl Phinney is a construction business owner who is passionate about what he does. His company, Opportunity Construction, welcomes minorities, women, veterans, ex-offenders, or “anyone who’s been pushed aside” and offers them job training, meaningful work, and a chance to be successful. We caught up with Carl to learn about his business philosophy, and what he wishes he knew when he started his business.
Q. What kind of business do you run?
Carl Phinney: My company, Opportunity Construction, is a multifaceted construction company with a team of professionals dedicated to rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure. We work on bridges and highways using the mandated rate by the federal government, which is a $21 dollar flat rate based on contract and a $16 fringe benefit rate, to pay our employees and help them have a better quality of life.
Q. Why do you do what you do?
CP: I wanted to create a company that helps people. I grew up in inner city Harrisburg, PA and got into construction 14 years ago with a high school diploma, so while I understand that there are jobs in construction, I also know what it’s like to struggle, paycheck to paycheck. By using this type of business plan, we help people that have a criminal, minority and/or military background have the opportunity to purchase homes and put their kids through college.
“I wanted to create a company that helps people”
Q. What is your guiding business philosophy?
CP: I’m a pastor and, after every congregation, people started coming to me saying they were living paycheck to paycheck and having difficulties making their respective payments. It was around this time that my eyes were opened to the highway sector. As soon as I started working and saw how it changed my life, I knew that I can change other’s lives.
I wanted to make people be aware that there are jobs in construction and we are seeing people begin to understand that if you want to see change in the world you should start with yourself. We’re giving 45 employees, with different backgrounds often ignored by the larger population a second chance, training to get into a different career and improve their lives and those around them.
“We are seeing people begin to understand that if you want to see change in the world you should start with yourself.”
Q. What makes your company unique?
CP: In my years as inspector, I saw a trend of people not taking their jobs seriously. We need to be alert, tough, ready to work long days, fluctuating temperatures. We have to be ready for the job every single day. We fill a niche in flagging and protection in the workforce station.
At Opportunity Construction, we train our employees in every aspect of the different jobs and spare no expense when it comes to that training. We want them to know that we’re not here for a paycheck and that their safety is of the utmost importance. We continue to pay attention to detail when providing service because it’s all about safety. We want these people to come back to their families. Our employees are 110% motivated, and it shows. Our feedback from customers is bar none.
Q. What do you wish you knew when you first started your business?
CP: I wish I had known how hard it was to get working capital. The biggest challenge of my life to find working capital to sustain day to day operations. I put personal money into the business and it was because of the difficulty of finding capital. I had heard many things in the past from lenders that helped align your ducks in a row and learned that that wasn’t true the hard way. So when I found the link for Fundbox, I don’t know if I would’ve lasted another week without it.
“The biggest challenge of my life to find working capital to sustain day to day operations. I put personal money into the business and it was because of the difficulty of finding capital.”
Q. How has Fundbox helped your business?
CP: If it weren’t for Fundbox, I wouldn’t have survived the second year. It was the difference of me being in business and me being out of business. You can’t continue to pay your employees on invoices. It’s good to see a company that understands the plight and problems plaguing small businesses. It’s a #1 game changer and a true blessing to find Fundbox.
In I WISH I KNEW, we talk to business owners about their career paths, their business growth, and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. Want to share your small business lessons or stories? Tweet us @fundbox and use #IWishIKnew.