August is National Black Business Month, and we are proud to feature Black- and family-owned business, Vested Solutions. They participated in The Center’s Contractors Accelerator to gain the tools to confidently pursue public contracting.
Inspired by God and his entrepreneurial grandfather, Vernon Wyllie-James and his family opened a commercial janitorial business, Vested Solutions, in 2015. Based in Southern California, they service office buildings, multi-unit residential apartment complexes, construction sites, and government agencies. Over the years, the company has expanded operations throughout California, New York, New Mexico, Washington D.C., and Maryland.
Vernon attributes his experiences growing up in inner-city New York in making him wiser, tougher, and well-prepared to run a business. Yet, like many diverse small business owners, Vested Solutions struggled to secure funding due to revenue requirements and credit history. They relied on personal funds and borrowing from friends and family to keep the company going. They also secured short-term revenue-based loans and special interest loans.
Vested Solutions participated in The Center’s Contractors Accelerator to support their continued growth. Securing government contracts is a key way that businesses can generate revenue and build wealth. Diverse entrepreneurs are often excluded from lucrative government and corporate contracts due to an overwhelming, time-intensive, and confusing process. For this reason, The Center created the Contractors Accelerator to equip businesses, like Vested Solutions, with the tools, resources, and one-on-one support they need to confidently pursue and access public sector and anchor institution contracts.
Vested Solutions secured a seven-year, $12.6 million federal contract with San Diego’s North County Transit District to provide janitorial services. Through the Contractors Accelerator, Vernon received guidance in understanding and negotiating the terms of the contract, and connections to sources of capital and relationships for future opportunities.
Vested Solutions is committed to making a positive impact in the communities where they operate. Their new contract will allow them to provide a minimum of 100 new jobs in Hub Zones and disadvantaged communities.
Growing up, Vernon was exposed to seeing what can happen to an individual when they make wrong choices. Witnessing his neighbors’ and friend’s experiences with the criminal justice system drove him to do the right thing, yet still have empathy for those that did not always share his views. These experiences instilled in him a commitment to creating opportunities for others who have been similarly impacted. “People aren’t defined by their mistakes. Vested Solutions hires the unhoused and helps get them off the street. We also partner with sober living and street recovery centers to help recovering addicts enter the workforce,” said Vernon.
Vernon wants to continue to grow in North County San Diego through government contracts and spread into commercial contracting within the private sector. His goal is to be able to leave a lasting legacy for his family.
As we celebrate National Black Business Month, it is important to honor the contributions of entrepreneurs like Vernon Willie-James to our economy and communities.
The Contractors Accelerator is made possible with support from Wells Fargo, First Citizens Bank, and Silicon Valley Bank. Learn more about the Contractors Accelerator at https://thecenterbylendistry.org/contractors-accelerator/.