She Leads in NW Louisiana
Carla Maynard: A Women-Owned Business Success Story
Carla Maynard had one of the most secure jobs you could ask for. As a 15-year employee for the DOTD, she constantly envied her self-employed husband’s freedom and lifestyle. Carla’s entrepreneurial spirit eventually took hold of her imagination, and along with her husband’s prodding and encouragement, in 2010, she put in her notice and took the plunge. Acacia Industries began in the Maynards' garage with two 10-year-old twin boys as their only employees, along with the occasional help from her husband’s lawn care crew.
“Everyone around me thought I was crazy to quit my job at the DOTD—everyone except my husband. If he hadn’t believed in me and pushed me to do it, it would have never happened! I would still be working at the DOTD waiting on people to retire or die.”
After a challenging first year, she was approached by an investor who bought a 49% share in the business. The investment was a huge break. It allowed them to buy the cones, barrels, and other needed equipment. Carla could also reinvest initial revenue back into the business, getting more jobs—all without having to borrow a penny.
By 2012, Carla and her husband were so successful that they bought out their investor. Acacia Industries once again returned under their sole ownership. Following their business growth and success in Louisiana, they quickly expanded their services to Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Alabama!
With the advantage of being a woman-owned business, Carla thinks the key to Acacia Industries’ success is two-fold. As a woman-owned business, Acacia Industries was eligible for and received Disadvantaged Business Enterprise status (DBE).
DBE is a federal status for for-profit small businesses where socially and economically disadvantaged individuals own at least a 51% interest and also control management and daily business operations. Since all non-DBE (also known as “prime”) contractors who are paid by the Federal Highway Administration are required to award a portion of their contracts to a minority-owned business, this status opened the door for much of Acacia’s business.
However, it’s Acacia Industries’ reputation that keeps those prime contractors coming back.
“By doing great work and being reliable we not only provide great service, but we also help the prime contractors win more bids. It’s a win-win.”
The second key to success is Carla’s expertise as both a licensed contractor and a licensed engineer, and the only one on staff in their industry, male or female!
Her knowledge and certifications make Acacia Industries a huge asset to its customers, who often need to make quick engineering changes or planning adjustments—not having to hire an independent engineer speeds up approval and saves the business thousands of dollars. Not to mention, her engineering certification gives these projects priority in getting DOTD approval.
Fortunately, thus far, Acacia Industries has not been negatively impacted by the pandemic. When COVID-19 first started, Carla was careful to keep employee exposure down by scheduling the same crews to work together throughout a project, instead of moving them around. However, due to the large economic recovery payouts this year, they’ve been warned that government funding for contractual work will likely slow down for their entire industry in 2021.
What’s her advice to other women just starting out in business? Carla points to utilizing as many resources as you can:
“There’s a lot involved in starting a business that you probably don’t know about. Take advantage of local resources like the Small Business Administration, and look for similar established companies willing to mentor you.”
ABOUT ACACIA INDUSTRIES, LLC
Acacia Industries provides traffic control measures for the traveling public through temporary means in highway work zones, installation of permanent devices, and implementation of new innovative traffic solutions in order to improve the overall wellbeing and quality of life for its employees as well as its customers.
Interesting fact: The business was named after the Acacia wood used to build the Ark of the Covenant described in the Old Testament.
Location: Headquarters in Keithville, Louisiana