Yolanda’s Construction Administration and Traffic Control (YCAT-C) is an African-American woman-owned business that offers a range of administrative and traffic control services to support public and private sector clients on engineering and construction projects. Based in Bayview-Hunters Point, YCAT-C staff represents extensive experience with the transportation industry, including rail transit and highway/roadway projects, as well as other heavy civil projects. Read more in our Partner Spotlight with CEO Yolanda Jones.
What inspired you to start your own construction administration company?
My father used to run a trucking business, and I would help out sometimes in his office. A lot of the workers in the community would come and ask me to help them do their paperwork, because when you have a one-man shop and you’re out laying tile, you don’t have time to do the paperwork. But the paperwork is important for them to stay in compliance and remain certified, so I would help out. That’s where I got the thought about construction administration. I support contractors who aren’t big enough to have an office or a secretary to do the clerical work that is repetitive and time consuming but necessary.
Why was it important to stay in Bayview-Hunters Point?
The Bayview community is a family. Being a part of this community, I stay focused on not only finding opportunities for my firms but other small minority firms in Bayview as well. They’re just as important as my firm. If there’s not a fit for me, I’m always glad to refer them to someone else because there should be someone from this community working at all times.
Our community is changing a lot, and that’s okay. It’s more economic boom for the Bayview, but I try to help the families that are here remain here. I’ve done outreach to help seniors stay in their homes, helping elders redo their house with Rebuild Together to make it safe so their families can stay there. That’s ultimately my goal: whatever I can do to be a connection and help the people of Bayview overcome any obstacles.
I also hope to give our employees a better way of life; a job to be able to take care of their families and remain in District 10. My slogan is to put the guns down, put the dope down, and get a job. Take care of their family, buy a home, take advantage of the different programs that are in place to help them stay here. When my son was killed, I realized that violence is everywhere, but when it happens to you, it’s unbelievable. No words can explain it. So if I can stop that pain from occurring to anyone else, then I’ve really helped somebody.
How have you stayed motivated to help your business grow successfully?
I’m just doing what I know I’m supposed to do. When I started my first year, I registered on dozens of contractor systems to get alerts for projects and contracts. Some I applied to, some I would pass on. I would also go to as many pre-bid and outreach meetings as possible. I know that’s hard for a lot of people because I ran my business just by myself at first, but you have to go to the meetings. It’s crucial to put a name with a face.. And you absolutely have to do your due diligence and follow up. I followed up so much that I may have run some contracts off from being too persistent, but I’ve made sure people remember me.
What has been your greatest indicator of achievement or success?
One year on my birthday, we had three contracts start all on the same day, with BART, Westbay Builders, and Swinerton. I had my cousin go to one meeting, my daughter to another, and another cousin to a third meeting, and I followed up on all of them and went to the next meetings, and they all came through on the same day.
We also won the LeBron James #PitchLeBron contest. I remember I looked at it when someone sent it to me and thought, there’s no way he’ll ever pick me. But two of my employees said “let’s just do it,” so they helped me set up an Instagram, we did the 23-second video in one take, and sent it in. They called and said we were a finalist and they wanted to come by for a video, but when they came by they had me read a statement aloud on video that said we had won, and that was it. It was unbelievable! Now I can use that as a platform for other companies to recognize who I am.
What advice do you have for other aspiring small business owners in the San Francisco community?
You’re the only person that can sell your business. If your business is your passion, and your passion is your livelihood, then no one can sell yourself better than you can.
What are some resources that have helped you in starting and growing YCAT-C?
The Renaissance Center is an excellent nonprofit for local companies. They promote success within the community you live in, and they also work with individuals one-on-one to support them in different matters. Various contractors’ assistance bureaus, like those with San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Lennar and Cahill were other partners that helped me stay abreast of all of the different contracts and opportunities. Working Solutions was a great resource, as well. Also, everyone who supported me to get here to where I’m at: Redemption Church, my family, husband, and kids. With all of these emerging opportunities, as a community we want to see our folks stay in business, so everybody plays a role. These are all people that I’ve worked with that have taken an interest in helping and mentoring me. Now, I can be a platform for other companies to recognize who I am, which will help me hire more local people, and be someone who can help give others the opportunity to help our community.
About the Minority-Owned Small Business Partner Spotlight … Powered by First Republic Bank
The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and First Republic Bank have partnered up to highlight the extraordinary work of minority-owned small businesses in San Francisco. Each quarter, the partnership will spotlight a business and showcase the unique product or service that business is providing to strengthen the fabric of the San Francisco community. The spotlight recipient, nominated by a nonprofit partner, will also be provided with an Influencer Level ($5,000 value) membership for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, powered by First Republic Bank. Over the years, First Republic’s focus on exceptional, relationship-based service and its client-centered culture has led to long-term relationships with its clients. First Republic is proud to support nonprofit organizations within its communities, particularly those focused on affordable housing, the arts, economic development, and financial education for underserved populations.