The key to success in the business world is that you have to be professional and you have to deliver the goods. That is DeJonnette Grantham-King’s take — the focus on business is her primary platform, and for her, good business means providing quality work.
Grantham-King is the senior principal for Advanced Environmental Consultants, a small woman- owned minority business that specializes in engineering and environmental consulting.
“When the corporation formed in 1996, I had just come out of corporate America and I thought business was business,” she said. “I had gone to college, worked in the corporate world and I believed that all you had to do to succeed was to do a good job and you’d get rewarded. I didn’t know about minority set-asides.”
But, the reality of being a minority-owned business set in.
“Things were different,” she said.
Her eyes were opened when she began to get certifications for the company.
“When we became certified with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the guy doing the certification said I needed to be certified as a minority-owned business,” she said. “That was a hard thing for me to do, as I didn’t use being a minority-owned business — or a woman-owned business — as a platform. My platform was providing quality service. But, he explained to me that it doesn’t matter who you are, if people don’t know you, they won’t do business with you. The certification was simply a means to open doors. Ultimately, people do business with people they know and trust. But, you have to get in the door. It was one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneur.”
As her business grew, Grantham-King explored different business organizations.
“I did the research and knew that to be involved, the group must have value,” she said.
One group she joined was the Mississippi Minority Business Alliance. A member since 1999, Grantham-King said she likes the group because it is comprised of both corporate and small business professionals.
“Again, my interest in the group comes more from the standpoint of networking with and learning from other business professionals. The fact that they are all minorities is secondary,” she said.
Grantham-King said the non-profit alliance was formed to meet the challenge of informing large corporations of their businesses.
She said, “The founders of the alliance were hearing that corporations were having a difficult time finding qualified minority-owned businesses.”
She got involved with the group in 1999, and has risen through the ranks and now serves as chairperson.
“It’s a great group of people,” she said. “For me, it’s very refreshing to be around such seasoned professionals who are so willing to share their knowledge and experience with others. It’s like any other organization — you get out of it what you put into it.”
Through the years, Grantham-King’s company has grown.
She said, “We began as strictly a consulting firm. We did site assessments for asbestos, lead, mold, etc. But because many clients like ‘one-stop shopping,’ we took the company to the next level and began doing abatement. We now go in and assess a site, and if it needs it, we’ll remove and dispose of contaminants. Because the business is very regulatory and compliance-driven, that works well for me, as that is my background.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Susan Marquez at firstname.lastname@example.org .