In 2011, after a successful career in management and technology, Shannon Keith left the technology and research world to join FDRC, Inc., a disaster recovery corporation specializing in debris removal following nationwide federally declared natural disasters. Shannon’s goal was to one day have her own business, and as she worked, she began studying the industry. She made contacts with sub-contractors and watched companies succeed and others fail. She formed relationships with mentors in the business, and took notes of those who did their job well.
In 2012, an opportunity opened for Shannon to take one partner’s position at the company. While she initially planned to start her own company from scratch, the opportunity was too good to pass up. Shannon took over as president and part owner in January of 2013. She worked tirelessly, managing debris removal from one state’s disaster recovery operation to another, sometimes, with her children along for the ride.
FDRC, or Federal Disaster Recovery Corporation, was incorporated in Montana in 2008, but the principal operating office was located in Northport. When Shannon took over as president, the company was stable, but was limited to disaster contracts. Shannon’s goal was to expand contracting to government contracts and sub-contracting through major contractors in Alabama. She began working on the Woman-Owned Small Business Certification and 8(a) Certification as a Native-American small business owner.
In late 2015, Shannon took over as the sole owner of the business. As part of her goal to diversify, in March of 2016 Shannon moved the business to Huntsville to be closer to Redstone Arsenal. FDRC currently has 4 core employees, but grows to more than 80 over the course of a contract as they ramp up for recovery response. They are currently interviewing companies for the SBA’s mentor-protégé program and are completing their 8(a) program application. In August of this year, Shannon received her EDWOSB certification through the SBA’s third party certification program.
Shannon first contacted the Alabama SBDC Network office in 2012 for assistance in learning how federal contracting works. “One of my largest obstacles to overcome was just no prior background in marketing to the government. I had been in management positions for most of my professional career; however, nothing prepared me for the government marketplace. Reaching out to the Alabama SBDC and Alabama PTAC helped me overcome my greatest hurdle: breaking into Federal Government prime contracting.”
Over the course of the next 4 years, Shannon worked with multiple Alabama SBDC and Alabama Procurement counselors to navigate the business transitions and the 8(a) application process: “The Alabama SBDC and PTAC counselors provided the correct business training to get me on the road to successful government contracting. Their help through workshops and networking opportunities propelled me into the government contracting arena with more knowledge than I could have obtained from any other educational vehicle.”
FDRC owns and operates a variety of equipment to assist municipalities and the Department of Defense in returning to normal operations following a man-made or natural disaster. The company’s proven performance in managing all aspects of debris handling has earned unique recognition in the business. Shannon remains in the forefront of her industry by learning, researching, and continuous improvement. Shannon’s path to ownership and business success perfectly embodies her company motto: “preparation meets opportunity.”