Mindy Nunez Airhart – P.O.W.E.R.ful Women
Chief Executive Officer, Southern Services & Equipment, Inc. (SSE)
Q: What can you tell us about Southern Services & Equipment, Inc. (SSE)?
SSE is a steel fabrication and erection contractor in the commercial construction industry. SSE specializes in architectural and structural fabrication and precision CNC machining. SSE is AISC-certified, woman-owned, and, for the past 2 years, been named to Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 List, which profiles the fastest growing private companies in America.
Q: When did you launch?
My parents began the business in 1996.
Q: How were you inspired to start your business?
I grew up helping my parents in their many businesses, and started my first business at 15 years old. Entrepreneurship is in my blood!
Q: What were your biggest obstacles and how were they overcome?
The biggest obstacle lately has been the fantastic growth we have had in the past 3 years (approx. 250% each year). With that level of growth comes many obstacles, in the form of cash flow, structuring management, creating systems and processes, and keeping true to our company culture. Now that the growth is leveling, we can step back and take a breath!
Q: What local resources have you used?
The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program, the New Orleans district of the SBA, and the Urban League were all resources that we have used over the years.
Q: What is your big focus right now?
Our big focus is always first maintaining a safe work environment. Business-wise, we are concentrating on increasing profitability in our current projects and reducing corrective actions in our manufacturing process.
Q: What is the best advice you ever received?
“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” by my very wise mother, Cheryl Nunez.
Q: What success have you had in the last year?
SSE has been named to Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 List, which profiles the fastest growing private companies in America, for the second year in a row. I graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program, and was named Vice-Chairwoman of the St. Bernard Parish Chamber of Commerce. I continued my work on the boards of directors of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, the New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute (NORLI), and the First Planning District of the Louisiana Workforce Development Board. I was invited to join the Fidelity Bank P.O.W.E.R. Advisory Board as well – it’s been such a great year!