Founder of C&J Electrical Services LLC: To be successful, businesses must “grow organically”

Curtis Richardson is President, CEO and Founder of C&J Electrical Services. (Reggie Allen, for the Birmingham Times)

By Ariel Digne

The Birmingham Times

Curtis Richardson is President, CEO and Founder of C&J Electrical Services.  (Reggie Allen, for the Birmingham Times)
Curtis Richardson is President, CEO and Founder of C&J Electrical Services. (Reggie Allen, for the Birmingham Times)

Whether it’s talking to minority-owned business owners or the students he mentors at Wenonah High School, Bessemer Academy and Wylam Elementary School, Curtis Richardson’s message is always the same: persevere.

“When I talk to black companies, I don’t talk about what’s difficult, because everything is. I tell them that it is important to surround yourself with a good network of people, ”he said. “When I talk to students, I tell them that education is important, even though it may sound cliché. … I try to show them that they can’t let anyone tell them it can’t be done, and I tell them not to listen to anyone who says they can’t do something. Things are possible. … You have to find a way to make them happen.

Richardson is the President, CEO and Founder of C&J Electrical Services LLC, which has performed electrical work for various local hotels, including the Hyatt and Marriott, as well as for the Uptown Entertainment District, Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC ), Aletheia House, the West End Walking Trail, Birmingham Housing Authority and all Sonic Drive-In restaurants within a 60 mile radius of Birmingham. Currently, C&J has six full-time employees, but may have up to 22 depending on the number of projects underway.

Richardson knows persistence. When he started his business in 2001, he refused to get business loans.

“You have to be creative in how you get your money,” he said.

In some cases, he had to be prepared to receive less to ensure his employees were paid and his supplies were ordered.

“I would ask companies if they could prepay, and some contracts included supplies,” Richardson said. “I was getting less money from my side, but after a while I built up capital and was able to be stable on my own. “

As a black business owner, Richardson knows he won’t have many opportunities available to others, so he uses programs like Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), which manages federally funded business contracts. that require a certain percentage of minority businesses.

“I deal with these projects, as well as those in the private sector, which are relationship-based contracts,” he said. “After connecting with the Hyatt, I was able to make over a million dollars with them in two years.

Richardson, who is also president of the Birmingham Metro Black Chamber of Commerce, has noticed that some companies want to grow overnight.

“Grow organically,” he said. “You could have a big business, have all this money coming in and all these investors, but if you haven’t gone through the processes, you won’t know what to do when you run into some trouble. If you want to be a big business, let it happen. Don’t force it because when you force it things don’t always work.

Richardson, who received his electrical education from Lawson State Community College, spends most of his time looking for ways to develop C&J.

“As the owner and manager, you have to sit down and think. If you want to scale your business, you have to step back from operations and be visionary, ”he said. “I’m making sure we have plans for the rest of the year and for 2018.”

How he grew up also has a lot to do with Richardson’s drive.

“I grew up in Kingston and never knew my dad,” he said. “It has a lot to do with the ambition that I have. When you are down there is no other option, there is nothing but above.

For more information …

C&J Electrical Services LLC

Address: 201 Beacon Parkway W, Birmingham, AL 35209

Telephone: 205-718-7115


Other stories from this series:

Patricia D. Rutt