Face of High Speed Rail Investing in Small Business

TEC Management Consultants Picture

Tenacity Pays Off for TEC Management Consultants

June 8, 2017 – It’s been nearly three decades since civil engineer Tim Coffey launched his firm in Inglewood. Certified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and owned by an African-American, the company features two divisions, TEC Management Consultants and TEC Constructors and Engineers. Together, they offer engineering, construction, project management and utility relocation and design services. The company’s list of clients includes Southern California Gas, Walt Disney, Major League Baseball, LA Metro and Caltrans. According to Coffey, “From the outside it may look easy, but I can tell you, it requires a lot of hard work which means long days and nights.”

TEC Management Consultants Picture

In 2015, three years after he and his staff attended California High-Speed Rail Authority outreach events, Coffey became a subcontractor to WSP USA, the Rail Delivery Partner (RDP) for high-speed rail.

In the Central Valley, TEC negotiates deals with cities, counties, water and irrigation districts and communications and power companies who sign third-party agreements to relocate fiber-optic cables and other major utilities such as phone, water, gas and electricity. The company also handles right-of-way land acquisitions and provides contract management.

To date, the company has earned over $700,000 for its work on high-speed rail. It has contributed to company growth. “When we joined high-speed rail, we didn’t have any employees working on the project,” Coffey said. “Now, we have nine employees assigned to it and may soon hire a 10th person.”

Read more about TEC Management Consultants in our Small Business Newsletter.

Paleo Solutions Worker

Discovering the Past Beneath the Rails

June 7, 2017 – As they crouch on their hands and knees with their faces inches from the ground, Geraldine Aron and Paleo Solutions employees hunt for historical clues. They sift gingerly through the dirt looking for items that will tell them more about properties that may be impacted by high-speed rail.


Since 2015, Paleo Solutions, a certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) based in Monrovia, has worked on three sections of high-speed rail – Palmdale to Burbank in Southern California and San Jose to Merced and San Francisco to San Jose in Northern California. “We find things that bolster or change what we already know about certain areas. They help us fill in historical gaps,” Aron said.

Along with archaeologists and mapping experts, crews look for who and what lived in the area. “Potentially, we’ll find some fossils in the San Jose to Merced section,” Aron explained. “Mammoths have been discovered on other transportation projects in the Central Valley.”

As work crews analyze data and prepare maps and surveys indicating the presence or absence of fossils, they identify areas that need to be monitored during construction. Aron looks at them under a microscope. Microfossils, the remains of bacteria, fungi, animals and plants, are invisible to the naked eye. The largest discoveries include fossils of dinosaurs and other giant beasts. They’re processed and identified before being moved to a museum for future research or educational purposes.

“The projects we work on allow us to make significant contributions to the sciences, while making cool discoveries,” Aron observed. “If it weren’t for projects like high-speed rail, we wouldn’t make these important findings.”

Read more about Paleo Solutions in our Small Business Newsletter.

Square One Productions Picture

Visualizing the Future of Transportation

June 6, 2017 – Before submitting a Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for review, the California High-Speed Rail Authority wants to know what the high-speed rail project will look like and what impact it will have. Square One Productions, a four-person firm based in San Francisco, is producing visual simulations and photomontages that will accurately represent a before-and-after view of high-speed rail in two project sections from San Francisco to San Jose and San Jose to Merced.

Square One Productions

“The goal with the environmental document is to be able to compare and contrast,” said Square One owner Angela Lin. She is a subcontractor for HTNB Corporation, which is providing preliminary engineering and environmental services between the Bay Area and the Central Valley.

Lin and her three-member team read engineering drawings to build models for the visual simulation. The simulations are paired with written environmental analysis to produce a 3-D model of structures and the train, which are then inserted into the photo to better illustrate the design, scale and impact of the project.

Lin said her firm has done the same type of work for the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority, the Bay Area Rapid Transit System and the Palmdale-Burbank section of the high-speed rail program. “It’s so hard to explain visual things in words,” Lin said. “And that’s part of the value of what we do.”

Read more about Square One Productions in our Small Business Newsletter.

Virginia Villa Picture

Electrifying Work Underground Prepares Path for High-Speed Rail

June 5, 2017 – “I love my job!” Virginia Villa declared. Villa owns West Pacific Electric Company (WPEC), a small business, based in Lemoore, which is relocating utilities to make way for high-speed rail.

West Pacific Electric

WPEC has a contract with design-builder Dragados/Flatiron to work on Construction Package 2-3 in the Central Valley installing underground AT&T duct banks, conduits (pipes) packed with wires or fibers enclosed in protective concrete or metal cases. Villa said getting on the project was a major achievement. “Over the last two to three years, I must have gone to more than 20 events concerning high-speed rail,” she said.

Last November, she was awarded a $685,000 contract to relocate underground utilities. To complete the job, Villa will hire 10 to 12 workers to help her core group of 8 to 10 employees. It’s hard work for this married mother of six, who was studying speech pathology at Fresno State when she went to work for her husband Lee’s electrical contracting company. In 2008, they launched WPEC with Villa as the primary owner. Today, a son and daughter are among their employees.

Villa believes the high-speed rail contract will mean more opportunities. “We’ve gotten great reviews and AT&T asked us to become one of their official vendors,” she explained. “It’s the result of working on high-speed rail—one million percent.”

Read more about West Pacific Electric Company in our Small Business Newsletter.

Small Business Month: ERTEC Environmental Systems

May 4, 2017 – In recognition of Small Business Month in California, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) is highlighting ERTEC, an Alameda-based small business that is providing wildlife exclusion fencing for construction within Construction Package 1. Watch the video above to learn more about how this state-of-the-art wildlife exclusion fencing is protecting animals while construction continues.

Tom Blackburn

Growing Throughout the State

March 22, 2017 – Over the last three years, Tom Blackburn has dispatched a small cadre of environmental professionals to assess parcels lying in the pathway of the high-speed rail project. He owns Blackburn Consulting, a certified small business that has geotechnical and geoenvironmental experts determining the level of contaminants on properties the Authority may be required to purchase.

Blackburn Construction worker

Workers use several methods to complete property evaluations—desk audits of properties, interviewing property owners, researching regulatory records, reviewing aerial photos and deploying drill rigs to determine the most effective way to remove stop leakage and remove contaminants.

In addition to doing geotechnical work in the Central Valley, Blackburn’s team provides independent assurance testing and environmental site assessment services to multiple construction packages.

Blackburn has offices in Auburn and West Sacramento and recently established a location in Fresno. He attributes the firm’s expansion to its work on high-speed rail. “Working on the high-speed rail project has been rewarding,” Blackburn said. “It has helped us get established in Fresno.”

Leevel Tatum, Owner of BBL Tatum Truck

A Private Office in Fresno

March 6, 2017 – Leevel Tatum says it’s always a good day when he’s sitting eight feet high over the highway. “I like it because it’s my own private office and it’s a challenge,” Tatum laughed. He is the owner of BBL Tatum Truck and drives oversize wide load tractor trailers—hauling steel rebar, granite tile roofing material and other equipment for high-speed rail construction sites throughout the Central Valley. Tatum landed his initial contract on the project in March 2016. Since then, he’s signed two more contracts and has jobs on multiple construction packages.

Tatum opened his Fresno-based firm 16 years ago. Certified as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and a Disadvantaged Business Entrepreneur (DBE), high-speed rail is his first government contract. “This has been a financial blessing for my family,” said Tatum. “I may be able to purchase another truck and hire another driver.”

“High-speed rail will transform downtown Fresno and increase jobs by bringing in more people. They’ll either be traveling through and stop here or make their home here and work elsewhere. Either way, it will help the economy.”

Val Print

Expanding with High-Speed Rail

February 15, 2017 – Tucked away near the Tuolumne Street Bridge in downtown Fresno, Val Print has served as the Valley’s top choice for creative marketing solutions since 1951. The graphics and printing company recently expanded its printing and distribution capabilities, thanks to high-speed rail.

Born and raised in Fresno, Val Print President and CEO Jack Emerian has watched the downtown area change dramatically. He recalls hearing about high-speed rail construction planned for downtown Fresno. He notes, “Fresno needed a good shot in the arm and I thought this was one of them – and we need a modern transportation system in this state.”

As work moved forward on Construction Package 1, Emerian learned his G Street warehouse and all of his firm’s distribution products would need to be relocated. With the help of the Authority’s right-of-way team, he soon came across a building on F Street, less than a mile away. “I hadn’t thought about going anywhere outside of downtown Fresno because we’re pretty much entrenched here,” Emerian said.

Read more about how small businesses are benefiting from high-speed rail in our Small Business Newsletter.

Donn Ross-Jones of Transition Music Corporation

Music Sets the Mood for Success

February 7, 2017 – With the right rhythm and sound, a video can deliver a message that moves people. Music supervisor and media producer Donna Ross-Jones realized there was an underserved market needing music to accompany video content. “Music is such a major part of our lives,” she notes, “but few people outside of the music industry have real access to the power of music and the best the business has to offer.”

In 2011, Ross-Jones started Transition Music Corporation (TMC) which currently provides music for 8 networks and over 20 television series. Added up, her firm’s unique sounds play a role in more than 250,000 broadcasts across the nation and more than one million performances worldwide.

Audiences started hearing the unique beat of TMC’s music on high-speed rail videos when the firm landed a contract and starting working with the Authority’s multimedia team. She has received many other awards for her success as a female entrepreneur, including being named one of the “Fifty Most Influential Women in Entertainment” by the Hollywood Reporter magazine and “Media Firm of the Year” by the city of Los Angeles and Mayor Eric Garcetti.

For more small businesses taking part in the high-speed rail program read the latest Small Business Newsletter.

Douglas Scheidt, Vice President of Vanguard

Veteran is Vanguard for High-Speed Rail Third-Party Agreements

November 10, 2016 – Douglas Scheidt's cubicle office isn't quite what you would expect for Vice President of Operations for Vanguard Construction Services, Inc. The bustling shared space houses engineers working on Construction Package 2-3 (CP 2-3), 65 miles of the high-speed rail project which stretches through the counties of Fresno, Kings, and Tulare.

Vanguard is a minority- and veteran-owned construction services company based in Fresno. It is a subcontractor to Arcadis, the prime contractor handling project and construction management on CP 2-3. As the Third Party and Utility Coordination Segment Manager, Scheidt is ensuring that the design-build contractor meets the Authority's expectations. He's working with over 40 entities including cities, counties, water, and irrigation districts as well as communications and power companies. Often times, a negotiated agreement must be reached before any work can commence.

Scheidt believes in improving the place he calls home. He's also worked on other local projects such as Chukchansi Park, the downtown Fresno baseball stadium and the Veterans Home of California-Fresno, a 300-bed, long-term care facility. Despite juggling multiple priorities, Scheidt explained why he chose to be on the high-speed rail. "This is where my heart lies," he declared. "I have worked on a lot of large projects, but none like this one."

Creating Opportunities in San Jose

October 25, 2016 – NSI Engineering is a San Jose-based firm doing quality assurance on the high-speed rail program. NSI is certified as a woman-owned small business, a disadvantaged business and a disabled veteran business. Watch the video so see why owner Laura Uden says the High-Speed Rail Authority’s aggressive small-business participation goal has given her company opportunities it might have not otherwise had.

Clearing the Right of Way

October 12, 2016 – O'Dell Engineering is a certified small business based in Modesto that is working on the high-speed rail project doing right-of-way and surveying. Learn three ways working with HSR is helping this firm grow by leaps and bounds.

Providing a Foundation for High-Speed Rail

May 10, 2016 – Curtis Lovett, Owner of Outback Materials, describes how his small business provides concrete for California High-Speed Rail projects.

Capturing Data from the Skies

November 30, 2015 – Marc Cañas, Vice President of J.L. Patterson & Associates, Inc. explains how the company uses Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to create detailed, topographical data for engineering purposes.

Forming a Business in California

November 30, 2015 – J.L. Patterson & Associates, Inc. are sub-consultants to the California High-Speed Rail Authority. Watch how the owner, Jacqueline Patterson, made her way from Nicaragua to forming her own business in California.

2R Drilling Boring Samples to Test Soil

Preparing for Heavy Construction

November 18, 2015 – Count 2R Drilling as among the first certified Small Business Enterprises to do preliminary construction work on the high-speed rail project in the Central Valley. The firm rolled out giant drilling rigs and sucked up soil samples in more than 24 locations in Fresno and Madera. Some of the borings punched down 100 feet or more below the earth's surface.

"We were boring samples to test soil where the foundation for a bridge has been planned and we're always in before heavy construction begins," explained owner Brian Serl. "The samples will tell construction contractors what kind of conditions to expect when finalizing designs."

2R Drilling got the job done with Tier IV rigs. "Those Tier IV machines have ignition and exhaust systems that put out fewer emissions into the atmosphere," Serl said.

2R Drilling based in Ontario, California, was started by Serl"s father in 1978.

Investing in Fresno

November 17, 2015 – California High-Speed Rail is investing in small businesses. Two of those businesses share their stories and how their contracts with high-speed rail are allowing them to hire more workers and change lives.