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SAMES Engineering Firm Grows Through SBA Program

Brothers Samuel and Saul Maldonado founded SAM Engineering & Surveying (SAMES) Inc. in June 2008 with only three employees and yearly sales of $400,000. Today, the firm has grown to 55 employees with sales in excess of $4 million. The brothers attribute part of their success with assistance provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Starting initially as engineering and surveying firm, SAMES added general construction management services in 2010.

“Early on, from a growth and expansion perspective, we felt that construction would bring in higher revenues as well as an opportunity to compete and be involved in bigger projects,” Samuel (Sam) Maldonado said.

The Maldonados soon discovered another essential strategy for growth when they learned about SBA’s 8(a) Business Development and the Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) programs.

The SBA 8(a) Program helps socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs gain a foothold in government contracting. Participants can receive sole-source contracts, up to a ceiling of $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing. The HUBZone program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities. SBA just released a new HUBZone map that makes it easier for small firms to determine if they are located in a HUBZone by simply plugging in their zip code.

SAMES became SBA 8(a) certified in 2013 and HUBZone certified in 2016. Understanding how federal procurement works was a big challenge for SAMES. “In a very expeditious manner we learned how to make the proper adjustments to our business methods in order to comply with strict protocols and sensitive deadlines,” Sam Maldonado said. “We are very grateful to the SBA’s Lower Rio Grande Valley District staff for their guidance in the mentoring us through the process.”

Since then, the company has completed a variety of projects including office buildings, public parking lots, sewers, infrastructure and federal contract projects with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Homeland Security, and the U.S. Navy, just to name a few.

Sam Maldonado says that SAMES Inc. will continue to focus on expanding its federal construction portfolio. The company enjoys accepting challenges that force its people to learn and grow as a team as well as individually. “Initially, we have always submitted proposals for projects that might seem beyond our reach,” says Maldonado

Maldonado and his brother Saul are both graduates of Texas A&M-Kingsville with degrees in civil engineering. Through his experience in working for both large and small engineering firms, Maldonado gained knowledge about development in the Rio Grande Valley.

“I was fortunate enough to work on a variety of public projects of all sizes,” Samuel said. “My brother Saul went to work for the city of McAllen in the engineering department where he worked for five years.”

The relationships that the Maldonado brothers established in the years leading up to 2008 would become a major factor in the pair deciding to start their own company.

“From both of our backgrounds, we had established relationships within both the private and public sectors,” Sam Maldonado explains. “When combined, these relationships helped us to experience early success with our company.”

Within the company’s first year, SAMES Inc. was able to land major engineering contracts with the Agua Special Utility District, the city of Pharr and the State of Texas.

SAMES is optimistic about the Rio Grande Valley as growth and opportunities continue to rise. “As an engineering and construction firm, we see the evidence of growth in the ongoing construction projects,” Maldonado explains. “We love to see huge cranes hovering over multi-story buildings which typically signify large capital investments in our community.”

For more information on the SBA 8(a) and HUBZone programs, visit www.sba.gov.

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