Success Stories

PeroDigm Design Studio is "Small Business Award Finalist"

February 20, 2018

Written By: Brent Hoffmann

 

A creative play on the word that literally means, “a typical example or pattern of something”, Rob Pero shattered his existing pattern and created Perodigm Design Studio.  For the past six years, Rob has embraced the right side of his brain and the creativity and free-thinking that comes with it.

 

Having left a successful career in insurance where it would have been easy to become complacent and settle into a routine, Rob realized that his personal success had to be tied to something more than just financial security.  His success had to combine something he was passionate about and something that would allow him to reconnect with his Native routes.

 

Starting over can be a scary proposition especially when you combine a home office with a growing family.  So, Rob began searching for like-minded individuals and businesses to network with.  That’s when he met Craig, Gary, and Bev at the AICCW-FACC.  “Joining the Chamber was instrumental in the growth of Perodigm.  The networking, training, and credit counseling helped me understand the big picture and allowed me to start working on my business instead of in my business” stated Rob.  

Armed with a solid plan, growing network, and vision for the future, Rob looked to secure capital to expand Perodigm into a full-service digital media agency.  Rob shared, “the team at First American Capital Credit provided so much more than capital.  They shared the vision of Perodigm and helped me network with an ever-growing list of Native-owned businesses.”  Not one to sit on his hands, Rob immediately put his small business loan to work opening a new office in Cambridge, WI, purchasing cutting-edge equipment and expanding his service offering.

 

All this combined and Perodigm was nominated for the Small Business Excellence Award at the 2017 Marketplace.  The nomination provided proof-of-concept for Rob and solidified his position in the digital marketing landscape of Wisconsin.  “My relationship with the AICCW-FACC was instrumental in opening doors and ultimately being one of three finalists for the award.  Winning would have been the icing on the cake but just being nominated, attending the Marketplace event, and surrounding myself with like-minded business owners is a huge win for Perodigm” concluded Rob.

 

What’s in store for the future?  Rob is working to make Perodigm the leader in telling stories.  Not just any stories, stories that allow customers to connect with businesses.  Using the famous Native American proverb as guidance, “Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever” Perodigm works closely with each client to capture the essence of the business and not just the products, services, features, and benefits.  Rob continues, “telling stories is the oldest form of communication and the only communication that transcends cultures, languages, and age.  There are businesses currently sharing Native stories but the real opportunity lies in the peer-to-peer stories that have yet to be told.  My goal is to help provide a voice for cultural and economic growth in the Native American community.”

Greenfire wins "Minority-Owned Business of the Year"!

October 19, 2017

Credit: The Daily Reporter

 

Greenfire was born of the Forest County Potawatomi Community’s desire to diversify the tribe’s business so it wouldn’t be completely reliant on its success in the gambling industry. Until the late 1980s, the Community had been among the poorest of Wisconsin’s 11 Native American tribes, and it didn’t want its progress tied to the fate of one enterprise.

 

In 2010, the tribe decided to start a construction-management firm, the first to be minority-owned in the Greater Milwaukee area. Greenfire Management Services wanted to succeed in the market while also helping with the tribe’s construction endeavors.

 

The firm has since helped complete a variety of projects, including the Milwaukee Urology Specialists at Mayfair Crossing, renovations within historical structures such as the Pritzlaff Building and multi-family residences like the Echelon Apartments at UW-Milwaukee’s Innovation Campus.

At the same time, Greenfire also worked on projects for the tribe, such as its renewable-generation biodigester plant, the Woodlands School and the Potawatomi Hotel expansion.

Between 2014 and last year, Greenfire’s sales more than quadrupled, going from $17.8 million to $82.9 million.

 

“Most important is being able to demonstrate to the marketplace that Greenfire has the capabilities and the strength within our team to really tackle many diverse projects,” said Kip Ritchie, Greenfire president. “We’ll take a look at just about everything.”

 

On projects that are too big for Greenfire’s staff of 26, the firm works with other companies.

In the coming decade, when the market is likely to see a slowdown in the construction of residential buildings, Greenfire is preparing for greater demand for senior living centers, health-care centers, schools and industrial and commercial buildings.

 

Given its status as a minority-owned business, Greenfire tries to pay this forward by supporting the work of other minority-owned subcontractors. Greenfire doesn’t perform construction work itself, which it says leads to better pricing and savings for owners.

 

The firm also hopes to hire more Native Americans; there are now two on its staff, including Ritchie, a member of the Forest County Potawatomi.

 

Meanwhile, between the end of this year and the beginning of 2018, Greenfire is planning to start a youth-mentorship program at the Milwaukee Christian Center. The program aims to provide on-the-job training to young people who are interested in construction-related work.

 

“Get some of the kids involved with some of our projects or subcontractors so that they can start to build some expertise in the trades, because there is a huge demand right now,” Ritchie said, citing tradespeople like carpenters, masons and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning electricians.

Contributing to the growth of the greater Milwaukee community, Ritchie said, goes hand-in-hand with Greenfire’s mission to support the development of the Forest County Potawatomi Community.

Pro Electric - Craig Clements, President - Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin

September 22, 2016

COMPANY PROFILE

Electrical Contracting including: a Traffic Signal Division, Directional Boring Division, Railroad Division, Purchasing & Procurement Division, Commercial Industrial Division, and a Private Development Division

Has outgrown operational space four times since its inception in 2005

Employs 40 full time employees

Gross sales = $10,000,000+

AICCW Member since 2006

Back in 2005, as a young father of year old triplets, Craig Clements made a bold move when he obtained his Wisconsin Master Electrician’s license, ISA Level II certification and then promptly went into business for himself. That first year, as the sole proprietor of Pro Electric, Craig did the majority of the work, calling in his father and a friend to help when the work required more hands. But by the following year, there was enough business for Craig plus four other employees, and he never looked back. 

 

Today, Pro Electric is a robust, full-service electrical contractor actively working on commercial, industrial, street lighting, traffic signal, railroad and airport projects statewide. 

 

Growth is significantly fueled by the Directional Boring Division which utilizes trained boring crews and specialized equipment to handle street lighting, traffic signals, railroad infrastructure and the installation of water, sewer and gas pipe. In 2008, Pro Electric was certified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), and began bidding on various Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), purchasing projects related to electrical and traffic management products. Today, they inventory, maintain and install thousands of electrical and traffic management products statewide.

 

Having outgrown its offices three times, Craig moved the company to a 19 acre site in Franksville, WI. On this property, sits a 33,000 square foot building that is currently being remodeled to provide additional space and work flow needed to support future growth.  And none too soon because Craig has done it again with another new Division!

 

 

Earlier this year, Pro Electric opened an Electrical Division, bringing on an experienced project manager and a number of experienced electricians to enter the “inside commercial electrical market”. A

substantial investment in specialized vehicles, tools and equipment was made to meet the market demand but already in six months, Pro Electric has performed services for the Milwaukee Public School District (MPS), the Kenosha School District and Milwaukee County.

 

What sets Pro Electric apart?  Craig believes his philosophy of surrounding himself with really good people and a laser focus on business goals has afforded Pro Electric wide success. “We work in a highly specialized niche — it takes a lot of capital, specialized equipment and professional expertise to do what we do, and do it well.”  Some would be competitors make their way into the marketplace, but have a tough time competing because the demands are high and the margins very tight.  

 

Sufficient working capital is important to every business, but especially important given the niche services that Pro Electric provides. Twice in 2009 and again in 2015, First American Capital Corporation (FACC), the lending arm of AICCW, was there to provide loans for a dump truck, excavation equipment and the expansion of the the Directional Boring Division, which has proven to be the most profitable for Pro Electric.

 

Craig’s advice to those looking to get into the electrical contracting field including creating a business plan and keeping it up to date. “Business plans are extremely important. I learned so much about my industry just by doing the plan. And when I understood this industry that well, I recognized when we were headed in the right direction or not, and that really made a big difference,” Craig shared. He also shared that not every endeavor has worked. For instance, Pro Electric started an Illinois Division — worked on it for over a year but three days after it launched, he closed it.

 

His advice above all, is to be involved and always learning, stating, “be a student of your industry because many of the challenges I saw as a tiny company were the same challenges the larger companies had.” Craig went on to say that mistakes are learning opportunities and that all of the policies and procedures that have been written at Pro Electric came about because of mistakes that were made.

 

A true maverick in his field, this young father of 11 year old triplets has boundless energy and drive. Aside from his leading a progressive company, he finds time to volunteer as a board member of AICCW and is currently the Chair for the American Indian Construction & Trades Association (AICTA). In addition, he frequently serves behind the scenes, offering mentorship to DBEs who new to the marketplace. Craig also works in the public eye, serving on panels and presenting at various industry conferences and workshops on behalf of AICCW.  Statewide, Craig volunteers on the Transportation Advisory Committee, to further the interests of disadvantaged businesses by setting goals for the entire state.

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