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Leadership Profile: John Guirges, Senior Program Director

John Guirges   Parking Garage "C" and South APM
John Guirges, APM/ITF/STC Senior Program Director, GOAA     The new parking garage and Automated People Mover will open November 1, 2017.

How many of us would like to be able to say every work day is, “exciting, interesting, and I never have a dull day?” This is exactly the sentiment expressed by John Guirges, Senior Program Director, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA), when discussing his role as part of the South Airport Complex (STC) team.

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    “It’s a great challenge,” he said. “You never know what the day is going to be like.”

    For the South Terminal Complex (STC), Guirges oversees designs, costs, and coordination on projects between municipalities and agencies such as the City, Federal Aviation Authority and the Florida Department of Transportation.

    It is a role that is all encompassing. “My job is to ensure we don’t run into any roadblocks with permits, budget, design, funding, or whatever is needed to move forward.” Guirges said. “Nothing gets in the way of controlling scope, schedule, budget, while we maintain the highest level of quality.”

    Guirges has been part of the GOAA team for nearly four years and had the same role and responsibilities on the recent South Automated People Mover (APM) and Intermodal Terminal Facility (ITF) projects. His previous role handling government and public sector work for Skanska, a national construction and development company, prepared him well for his current assignment.

    “I was in the right place at the right time and asked to take on this challenge,” he said. “I’m familiar with the nuances of these kinds of projects and have the necessary familiarity with municipalities and other agencies.”

    Guirges and his team work extensively with small businesses and GOAA’s Small Business Development Department. In addition, he has five Small Business companies that service as Program Managers on the STC oversight group. “This is a first for any project I know of,” he said. “There are small businesses playing such a key role and working at this level on a $2.1 billion project, this speaks to GOAA’s willingness, determination, and mentoring of its small business program.”

    For small businesses interested in working with GOAA, Guirges offers this advice: “It all starts with the Small Business Development Department, which will help you get certified and identify opportunities. Stay in consistent contact, you have to put in the effort and keep trying. Be persistent.”

    Guirges considers GOAA and the Small Business Development Department an incubator for small businesses. “This is a one-stop shop to grow and get to the next level,” he said.

How the GOAA Annual Small Business Event Brought Success to Page One Consultants, Inc.

Sheryl Page   Page 1 Consultants
Sheryl Page, Co-founder, Owner and President of Page One Consultants, Inc.

Sheryl Page, co-founder, owner, and President of Page One Consultants in Orlando, says “small business owners should view relationship building as one of their greatest assets.“

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    Page says she learned early in her career that making connections and attending events such as the “How To Do Business with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA)” opened the door by providing opportunities to meet face-to-face with contractors. The next GOAA small business event is set for Thursday, December 7 from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Orlando Hyatt Regency, 9801 International Drive.

    “Face time is the most valuable tool you have as an entrepreneur,” says Page. “At GOAA’s Small Business Development Department events, you meet with the actual contractors working on the projects so you can ask questions and build a rapport. You don’t get that opportunity with every company.”

    Page began her career at the airport while working with another firm in construction management. She felt she could do better, so armed with ingenuity, perseverance and handful of credit cards, Page and two friends formed Page One Consultants, Inc. in 1993. The firm specializes in Construction Management, Construction Engineering Inspection and Construction Materials Testing. The firm has an impressive portfolio of projects and clients including: the City of Orlando, the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, the I-4 Ultimate Improvement Initiative, the Orange County School District, Florida Department of Transportation, and the Central Florida Expressway Authority.

    The company also secured two contracts with GOAA to provide Quality Control Inspection Services, Construction Materials Testing and Administrative Support on the South Terminal Complex’s Automated People Mover (APM); and as one of the Owner’s Authorized Representatives (OAR) on the South Terminal project. Page was recently recognized as the 2017 Small Business Administration’s Women-Owned Small Business Person of the Year and her firm was selected as one of Central Florida’s 50 Fastest-Growing Private Companies by the Orlando Business Journal.

    Page encourages small business owners to get noticed by attending GOAA’s events and board meetings and by participating in roundtable discussions. It’s also helpful to bring collateral to the meetings such as flyers and always keep your firm’s website up-to-date.

    “Be truthful and honest about your work and whether you did a good job,” she says. “As women business owners, we have to be better than everyone else. I’ve learned that you don’t get projects at the last minute. You need to build relationships with people and find out their functions and needs. As an entrepreneur, you have to have faith in your work and the people in your life, especially God.”

    Page is grateful for her relationship with GOAA. She says, “The airport has grown so much over the last 25 years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is GOAA’s commitment to small businesses. The South Terminal project is important to the Central Florida community and a great opportunity, especially for women and minority-owned businesses to get involved, expand their skills and build a name for themselves.”

Gomez Construction – Powerhouse and Minority Business Advocate

Orlando Gomez   Gomez Construction
Orlando Gomez, President, Gomez Construction Company

For nearly 30 years, Gomez Construction Company has helped transform the skyline at Orlando International Airport and today is leaving its mark on the airport’s future. One of the most notable current projects for this long-serving airport contractor is his involvement of the new $2.1 billion South Terminal Complex expansion.

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  • “Gomez Construction has worked with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority’s Small Business Initiatives for the past 28 years and the work the agency does with small businesses in the community,” says Orlando Gomez, President of Gomez Construction Company. Orlando says, “We are proud of our long-standing relationship with GOAA and look forward to being a part of the airport’s future.”

    Gomez Construction has more than 35 years of building experience and is recognized as a leader in vertical, aviation, hospitality, and specialty projects across Florida and throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. In the early 1990’s the company began working for GOAA and their work has grown from small and large-scale airport renovations and enhancement projects.

    After 9/11, Gomez Construction was selected to upgrade airport baggage standards at airports in the United States and its territories, including Orlando, Miami, Palm Beach, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, to ensure they were compliant with new security measures. Currently, the company is working on the parking garage for the South Terminal Complex’s Automated People Mover (APM).

    “When we first started in Central Florida, no one knew our name. But people were willing to give us a chance in business because of our professionalism. I credit our longevity and success to being a man of my word, taking care of my staff, paying people on time, and helping others. The success of a project is not based on when some of the players do the work; success comes from everyone doing the work,” says Gomez.

    The company is also an innovative business leader in the community, and has demonstrated a commitment to mentoring other small Hispanic-owned firms working at the airport.

    He encourages other small businesses to step up and seek out jobs on this multi-year construction project.
    “There are plenty of opportunities for small businesses, especially minority-owned firms with a range of trade skills, to get involved.” “You need to decide how much you want to dedicate yourself, your resources, and your team to go out and work for it.”

Small Business Partners Pave the Way for Growth and Success

South Terminal Complex’s Automated People Mover   South Terminal Complex’s Automated People Mover
Shown above is the South Terminal Complex’s Automated People Mover

George Morning, Director of GOAA’s Small Business Development Department (SBDD), can share hundreds of success stories about small businesses that have worked with GOAA and are able to increase their growth and earn larger contracts.

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    A key element of SBDD’s approach is teaming small businesses with larger, experienced Construction Managers at risk (CM@R) and prime contractors to form effective relationships. Working hand-in-hand with the SBDD, these CM@Rs and prime contractors develop actionable, comprehensive plans to work with and train their small business partners.

    “Through the mentoring program, small business owners have a group of people they can rely on every step of the way for advice and guidance,” said Morning. “Being part of a project as large as the South Terminal involves learning how to fit successfully into a complex structure and thrive. Our CM@Rs and primes are dedicated to making that happen.”

    GOAA has nurtured small businesses for 30 years and created a culture that encourages relationships which are beneficial to small business companies and the Authority. “Small businesses add value to our construction projects and contribute to Central Florida’s economic growth,” said Stan Thornton, GOAA’s Chief Operating Officer.

    Recent issues of this newsletter have shared the successes of some of these companies and speak to the important role the Small Business Development Department played in their growth. In upcoming issues, the SBDD team will highlight opportunities for small businesses and how the Authority works with CM@Rs and prime contractors to create small business success.

    As an example, Patrick Aliu, President of PSA Constructors, says his partnership with CM@R, Turner-Kiewit has led to his 2nd CM@R project and other projects with GOAA and large-scale airport projects across the United States.

    “SBDD is second to none,” he said about the Department’s role in exposing small businesses and advocating new opportunities. “They give you the support you need.”

    As work on the South Terminal Complex begins, small businesses are important to the project’s success and will work with the CM@Rs and prime contractors in a wide range of specialty areas. The need for qualified companies is high and so is the commitment by the authority to help these small businesses grow and reach the next level.

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The illustrations shown throughout this newsletter are renderings of the new South Terminal at Orlando International Airport