Small business owners learn about contracting for Measure RR-funded projects to rebuild BART


Small business owners learn about contracting for Measure RR-funded projects to rebuild BART

Joseph Towner and Susana Mendoza

Joseph Towner of BART's Office of Civil Rights with small business owner Susana Mendoza

BART Senior Web Producer

More than two dozen small business owners turned out Thursday to learn about contracting opportunities at BART, particularly those funded by the $3.5 billion voter-approved Measure RR bond. 

"Small businesses are the backbone of what we do at BART," Joseph Towner of BART's Office of Civil Rights told the group. "We're here to answer your questions and make it easier for you to contract with us."

The meeting in Walnut Creek was among dozens being held around the region to make sure small businesses know about the opportunities for work and how best to compete for contracts. This one focused on how businesses that had previously only been subcontractors to larger firms could position themselves to be prime contractors as well. 

Peggy Chiang of Robin Chiang & Company, an architectural, planning and design management firm, said her company has done subcontracting work for BART for decades, including at Colma and Warm Springs stations.

"When you're a small business you don't have the level of support staff" that a larger business may have, she said, so the outreach from BART is helpful to overcoming obstacles that can be onerous. She said she'll be watching for upcoming opportunities to bid as a prime contractor. 

Rob Goncalves, general manager of G2 Metal Fab, a metal fabrication business based in Livermore, has worked for BART before on projects like seismic bracing at Pleasant Hill. He said he's looking for opportunities to be a prime contractor for some of the Measure RR work. 

"I'm here to get information and stay in the loop," he said. 

Because local voters in the BART District counties of Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco approved the bond, BART wants to keep this work and these jobs in local communities as much as possible. Businesses can be certified through various economic opportunity programs, such as obtaining Local Small Business Verification, a new program created for Measure RR funded contracts.

Michael Cain of Safeguard Surfaces of Walnut Creek came to the meeting to see if BART would have contracting opportunities for his business, which provides protective coatings using chemical bonds for surfaces such as metals, glass, plastics, tiles and stone. In addition to being a small business, Cain also has disabled veteran business owner status from his service in the  U.S. Naval Construction Battalions, known as Seabees. 

He said that with all the Measure RR construction going on, he figured there would be areas where BART would need coatings "to protect those valuable assets that are being built." 

Susana Mendoza of Galaxia Concrete in Hayward is not yet certified under BART's contracting programs but came to the meeting to learn what she needs to do.

"I'm going to have a lot of work to do," she said following the meeting, which went over all the steps necessary to get certification. 

"We're here to help you get over any roadblocks or obstacles in your way," Towner said. 

For a list of other upcoming small business outreach meetings, visit the Office of Civil Rights webpage