Firemans Paving Contractors is woman-owned and operated by a FireFighter Wife, Renee Gilmore. From new paving construction to repairs, replacement and maintenance of existing surfaces, Firemans Paving Contractors is a full-service company located in Fort Worth, Texas, and serving the DFW metroplex. Renee and her team received their WBENC certification in 2016, and have been involved in our community ever since. 

Like so many in our community, their team saw the ups and downs of life in a pandemic. Not letting this slow them down, Firemans Paving Contractors continued to strategize new ways to meet the ever-changing demand their company was facing. One of those solutions? Applying for and winning a Lillie Knox Award with WBCS. Read below to learn more about how being a two-timed winner of our annual Lillie Knox investment award transformed her business!

1. What did winning the 2021 Lillie Knox Award mean for you and your business?

It instilled hope for the future! In 2020, we experienced a 40% decline in revenue as a result of the pandemic. With the ever-changing marketplace and during such unprecedented times, it fueled our fire to continue moving forward, generated excitement and boosted team morale.

2. What did you use the Lillie Knox money for and how did it help grow your business? 

After the setback in 2020 as many projects were put on-hold, we experienced a 60% increase in 2021 due to the backlog it generated. As a result, we were in need of purchasing an enclosed trailer to safely house and transport our growing fleet of striping equipment. To include “Lillie”, as we respectively named the Graco Line-Lazer Ride-One Striping System, attained as a 2018 Lillie Knox Investment Award recipient. Lillie Knox has been instrumental in further advancing the company in achieving its goals by doubling in-house production and efficiency with our striping services.

3. What was your current involvement with WBCS?

We have been active in the WBCS since attaining WBE certification in 2016. It looks a little bit different since the pandemic but we have attended virtual events to include Connections to Contracts and Harvesting Partnerships; for example. And, I was thrilled when face-to-face events were reinstated in February for this year’s Gala! Since the pandemic, our focus has been on maintaining and enriching relationships made as a result of our certification and active participation in the WBCS. For example, I have maintained contact with Pam Thompson, President of Anderson Asphalt & Concrete Paving (AACP) in having one-on-ones and maintaining contact to support one another during trying times throughout the pandemic to include personal health, family health concerns, supply-chain, EIDL, PPP and other business-related issues we were both experiencing. And, we finally landed a $1M annual contract with UTD partnering with AACP on our HUB plan. So, stay tuned for a Done Deal announcement in the near future!

4. What is your favorite WBCS event and why?

The Gala, of course! Being in the construction industry, it’s not very often we get to dress up, celebrate the milestones and cheer on our sister WBEs, Corporate Sustaining Members and WBCS successes! It is a great time to connect with each other and truly count it all joy!  I will never take it for granted again since experiencing the pandemic! 

5. What is the best reason for a women-owned business to get her WBE certification?

Relationships with sister WBEs and Corporate Sustaining Members have helped me reach higher and achieve more based on wisdom I have gained from those that have gone before me. WBE certification helps women-owned businesses work smarter, not harder and you’re not alone!

6. What is one thing you wish you knew about WBE certification before you did it?

I just wish I had done it sooner!

7. How has WBE certification helped your business?

Our WBE certification has helped us grow our business 30% year after year (with the exception of 2020 due to COVID). We are experiencing continued growth as our WBE certification was instrumental in helping us land a $1.6M contract as a subcontractor for work performed at the DFW Airport Rental Car Facility, for example. As a direct result of our WBE certification and active participation with the WBCS over the past 5-years, we have been greatly enriched personally and professionally through relationships!