Edward Givens

Edward Givens started his business as a one-man operation out of his home in 1972. That year, he started his business on a part-time basis, generating annual revenue of $40,000. He went full time in 1979. In 1991, he was accepted into the SBA's 8(a) program, graduating in 2000, then attaining the 8(a) Graduate of the Year Award through the Small Business Administration in 2001. Through hard work, many hours of devotion, and patience, Edward Givens began a journey that led his Company to where it is today.

Here are some of the articles that have been written on Edward Givens:

Business News

The Wichita Business Journal
From the May 9, 1997 print edition

Cleaning company learns how to sweep up the business leads

By Marc Howell

The clock is ticking down on Edward Givens.

The year 2000 will be the start of a new millennium, but for Givens Carpet Cleaning and Building Maintenance, it also will be the year the company graduates from the Small Business Administration's 8(a) program.

For owner Givens, it means he has less than three years to make major changes in his company. He must move from mainly relying on non-competitive government contracts set aside for socially and economically disadvantaged businesses to competing soley in the competitive market.

"That's one of my biggest challenges I've got coming before me right now ... trying to (determine) what's my best avenue to take," Givens said.

Currently, non-government business makes up 40 percent of his $1.5 million annual revenues. Givens said he has several ideas to increase the income from the competitive side of his business. In fact, Givens hopes to triple overall receipts in the next three years.

One method he is using to increase business is advertising. He is expanding his phone book presence, using direct mail and radio. He is also using bids and knocking on doors to earn business. Additionally, he has expanded his business to include fire and water restoration.

Eventually, he said he would like to see an even split between the carpet cleaning and restoration part of his business and the custodial work. Today, the custodial side makes up about 80 percent of the business.

If he achieves this goal, he will be

greatly expanding his residential business, which is now 75 percent of his carpet cleaning and restoration business.

One way he has attempted to achieve growth is bidding for large non-government contracts. One stumbling block has been getting bonded for these large jobs. Givens is exploring options in this area, but it has cost him business.

Iris Newton, a public information officer with the SBA, said getting bonded is a common problem for small companies.

Bonded or not, Newton believes Givens will ultimately be successful in the open market.

"He takes care of business the way it should be taken care of," Newton said.

While Givens hasn't received large non-government jobs, he has impressed at least one government official. The company has had a custodial contract with McConnell Air Force Base for five years.

"We're very satisfied with them out here," said Ed Harvell, director of contract operations for the base.

Givens has been successful in getting several small and mid-sized non-governmental janitorial contracts. One of those is with Office Depot where the firm does floor maintenance. Darrel Wenzel, a representative of the west store, said Given's company is doing a good job and much better than the last firm contracted to do the work.

Getting an opportunity to show the value of his work has made Givens thankful. He said he has been blessed to be see his business grow.

Whether Givens eventually triples his business or not, he has come a long way since 1972. That year, he started his business on a part-time basis. He went full time in 1979. Givens said the business was a one-man struggle for many years.

His cause was helped in 1991, when he was accepted into the SBA's 8(a) program. Givens acknowledged two benefits of the program. First, is the management and bookkeeping skills he has learned. Second, is the government contracts which have helped his firm to grow from one to 70 employees.

The SBA's Newton said the main emphasis of 8(a) are the business skills taught. She said some companies in the program never get non-competitive contracts, but all receive individual counseling. Firms can be in 8(a) for nine years, but must meet targets for getting a sliding scale of greater non-government work.

Givens credits the SBA with teaching how to run a business more successfully. He said a large part of that was learning how to chase business.

"If I go in to put in a bid and I don't get any response, (I) try again, call, stay in contact," Givens said.

© 1997 American City Business Journals Inc.

The Wichita Eagle

© The Wichita Eagle
Published on October 10, 2001, Page 4B, ©The Wichita Eagle, (KS)

Cleaning company wins business award


Years of hard work finally paid off for Edward Givens Sr. and his company, Givens Cleaning Contractors Inc.

The company has grown from a one-man janitorial operation in 1972, generating an annual revenue of $40,000, to a financially stable 75-employee firm, occupying a 5,500-square-foot facility.

Today, Givens will be honored by the Wichita office of the Small Business Administration with its 2001 8(a) Graduate of the Year Award.

The award presentation is part of the SBA's 19th annual Minority Enterprise Development Week. The event recognizes the accomplishments and successes of minority-owned small businesses nationwide.

Ed Poindexter, assistant district director for business development, said the SBA’s decision to recognize Givens was easy.

“We looked at all the accomplishments he’s made through his business endeavors,” Poindexter said. “We don’t always see that success in all cases. Mr. Givens has gone on to be a viable competitor in his industry.”

The 8(a) Business Development Program helps socially and economically disadvantaged business owners gain equal access to resources necessary to develop their business. Givens cites the program and the SBA as the secrets behind his success.

“They’ve been like my right arm, helping me out, being right there with me and teaching me about business,” said Givens, who entered the program in 1991 and graduated last year.

While in the program, the company competed mainly for janitorial contracts, but now it also handles contracts for fire, water, and smoke damage, air-duct restoration, mold remediation, ultrasonic cleaning and other specialty services.

Givens, who at one point considered closing his doors, is quick to assist other minorities. For example, it’s company policy to seek out other minority firms as vendors and subcontractors.

Before Starting Givens Cleaning Contractors, Givens worked for about seven years as a bus lubricator for Continental Trailways.

Then despite having little capital, equipment or management training, Givens decided to establish his own business.

“I was very nervous at first, and I’ve had my ups and downs,” he said. “But, overall, it’s worked out well for me.”

Givens’ sons – Darryl, the company’s general manager, Edward Jr. and Charles – work with and encourage him every day, Givens said.

“It frees me up quite a bit, and they’ve really pulled through for me and keep me going,” he said. “I’ll probably retire pretty soon, depending on my health. But I know their plan is to keep it in the family.”

Also Honored

Other winners of the Small Business Administration’s 2001 Kansas Minority Enterprise Development Week Awards are:

  • Godwin Opara, president of Transtecs Corp., Minority Small Business Person of the Year 2001 Award. The company provides technical, engineering, administrative and logistics support services, as well as building maintenance and management contracts.

  • City of Wichita Purchasing Division, Public Sector Corporate Award. The city is being honored for it’s utilization of the minority business community.

  • Boeing Wichita’s Maintenance & Modification Center, Private Sector Corporate Award. The center is being honored for its aggressiveness in seeking small, diverse suppliers and exceeding subcontracting goals for small businesses and women-owned businesses.

    Small Business Association

    Featured In: © National Small Business Week – May 16, 2004

    Business training program gives company the skills to win bids


    Everyone knows Ed Givens. At least it seems so at the Wichita Home Show. Customers, friends and even competitors stop by his Givens Cleaning Contractors, INC., booth to say hello.

    Givens greets each person warmly and always seems to have time to chat. By the end of the show, Givens will have landed nearly as much business in four days as he did in the first full year he ran his company.

    But credit a U. S. Small Business Administration program with helping Givens learn business strategies that would help him grow his company to 90 employees and an expected $2 million in revenue this year.

    After 19 years in business, Givens was recruited by the SBA to enter its 8(a) business development program in 1991.

    “They approached me about joining.” says Givens. “But I didn’t think we met the requirements. Lucky for me they persisted.”

    The SBA 8(a) program helps socially and economically disadvantaged businesses compete, both in the private sector and for federal government contracts. The federal government sets aside a percentage of contracts for 8(a) program participants, but those businesses still must compete among themselves.

    At the time he joined, Givens had revenue of $40,000 and was putting in 16-hour days.

    Through 8(a), the SBA helped Givens create a business plan, learn the bidding process and improve his long-term planning and financial management skills.

    He landed his first government contract in 1994, providing custodial services to Fort Riley, an Army base in Kansas. The company quickly added 20 employees and was able to secure financing for payroll, equipment and supplies. It was the first of many contracts with the military.

    While in the 8(a) program, Givens attended SBA-sponsored executive education programs at basic and advanced levels.

    “Each school lasts a week. It’s amazing what you can learn in that time,” says Givens. “Paperwork, financing, business management. It’s like a mini MBA. It was a totally new experience. I learned to do things I thought I’d never be able to do. I wanted to master everything. I’m still learning.”

    He also learned the value of networking. “Just talking to some of the other people there led to a contract with Bechtel in Las Vegas. Your best contacts come from talking to people.”

    In Wichita, there are 20 to 25 companies in the 8(a) program at any given time. One or two graduate each year.

    “He is exactly the type of person this program was designed for,” says Edgar Poindexter, SBA administrator of Wichita’s 8(a) program. “He always follows through, he’s worked hard for everything he’s gotten, and he’s built a business for his family.”

    Shortly after the company was certified for the 8(a) program, Givens’ son, Darryl, left his executive job at Sprint to join his father.

    “I had no intention of ever joining the business, and I certainly didn’t know what 8(a) was, but my dad persuaded me,” says Darryl.

    Today, sons Darryl, Edward Jr., and Charles run the day-to-day operations.

    “Some people have the wrong idea about the 8(a) program,” says Darryl. “They think that if they join they’ll just be handed contracts. It doesn’t that way. What it does is give us the tools and the opportunities to grow our business. The government environment is just as competitive as the commercial environment. If you don’t perform, you won’t last long.”

    In 2001, Ed Givens was honored by the Small business Administration as SBA 8(a) Regional Graduate of the Year.

    “Building this business has been like raising children,” says Givens. “Some parts were pretty tough, but you’d never give it up for anything.”

    Because Givens has graduated, Givens Cleaning can no longer compete for 8(a) contracts, but it has diversified. The company now provides fire- and water-damage restoration, mold remediation, duct cleaning and more. It is one of a handful of companies in the Mid-west with a certified restorer on staff.

    Darryl Givens plans to concentrate on increasing profits and steady growth.

    “Our janitorial business has dropped off, but we see substantial increases in specialty services every year. The risks and costs to get into a new area are higher, but the margins are higher, too,” he says.

    “We have to continue to reinvent out business every three to five years. That’s what the market demands. You can’t rest.”

    --Story by Chad Ward