In 1998 Eli Valenzuela was an upholsterer at Dover Air Force, also doing freelance work repairing upholstery at local restaurants. When their son Simon was diagnosed with autism, Eli and his wife Sher realized that her job as a newspaper reporter and his at the Air Force base would not provide what was needed for his treatment. So they created First State Manufacturing in order to build a business that could. But before they quit their jobs to turn all their energies to the new venture, they did their homework, turning to the Small Business Development Center for guidance on business planning, financing and the myriad details necessary launch a successful business. As the business grew they have returned many times to the SBDC for feedback and advice on new opportunities.
Quickly realizing that government contracting had significant potential for the growing firm, the SBDC introduced them to its brand new PTAC right after it opened in 1999. First State Manufacturing was the PTAC’s 2nd client and is an active client to this day, recording over 182 awards totaling over $20,000,000.00. One key to initial growth was obtaining 8a status, a grueling one year process involving much work by the Valenzuelas and their PTAC advisors. (more…)