We Are Fortunate To Work with Heroes

Some people stand by and watch an emergency event that calls out for help, but never take action nor tell anyone. Other folks jump in to help, then tell the world of their great deeds. Perhaps the smallest category is people who jump in to help, but say only, “Yesterday was an interesting day.”

This story is about that last, rare category of people.

It was the end of the workday at San Martin de Porres Church in Southwest Albuquerque, when all the workmen were gathering up their tools, ready to head home. One of those workmen was our Vice President, Bobby Jaramillo, who had just completed his site inspection.

As Bobby stepped into his truck, he noticed smoke pouring out of the garage of a home across the street. He yelled to one of the workers to call 911, and ran to the home. Bobby pounded on the front door and called out to anyone inside, but no one answered or came to the door. Bobby concluded no one was home, and for his own safety, started to walk away.

Just as Bobby cleared the garage, there was an explosion inside it. The “kaboom” was enough to stir the resident inside the home. Bobby turned and saw a mother holding her infant while standing at the front door. Smoke swirled behind her. Bobby ran up to her to help her get away. But she was confused, unwilling to leave her front door.

Bobby took the infant and tried to persuade the mother to leave the front door. She would not leave. He then realized another child was in the home. Two other workers, Sylvester Gallegos and Jacob Jaramillo, came to help, took the baby from Bobby, and ran to the opposite side of the street.

Another worker, Jacob Aguilar from Anderson Air Corporation, ran into the home to rescue the second child. Moments later, Jacob emerged with the child and ran to a safe difference away from the home. However, the mother still would not move from her front door because there was a pet dog in the house. Jarred Lavato from Anderson Air called for the dog, and it came to the front door. Finally, the mother left the front door with Bobby to stand at the street near her home.

The fire department arrived and assessed the situation. Who was the father? One man held an infant, another held a child, and a third man was comforting the mother.

None of them was the husband and father – they were just our guys. They handed back their wards to the mother, loaded up their trucks, and headed home.

The next day: “Oh, yesterday was an interesting day.”

Was I surprised? No.

I have known Bobby for more than 25 years. I remember many years ago, he came into my office and said, “Oh, yesterday was a tough day.”

He related the story. There had been a car accident on his way home. Of course, Bobby stopped to help. It was clear that the young occupants of the car had just moments left to live. He climbed into the car and held the young woman’s hand, so she knew she was not alone. Bystanders stood outside peering in. He yelled to one of the bystanders to hold the young man. The end came quickly for both of them. Bobby climbed out of the car and headed home.

“Last night I told my family, ‘Wear your seat belts. I love you.’“

Now you know why I feel grateful to have known Bobby Jaramillo for a quarter century.


How Mick Rich Contractors Got Into the Church-Building Business

How Mick Rich Contractors got into the church-building business

November 11, 2015
Juliana Vadnais,  Albuquerque Business First

It was almost by accident that Mick Rich Contractors started doing construction work on its first church 20 years ago.

El Santuario de Chimayo had contracted another company to build a set of restrooms outside the santuario. According to Mick Rich, president of Mick Rich Contractors, it wasn’t supposed to be a complicated job. But when he was called in to take a look, “It was a mess,” he said.

Rich met with the Archdiocese and came up with a plan for how his company could take the project and fix it.

“I took it from a mediator, problem-solver and contractor perspective, put it all together and took care of it,” Rich said. “That was how we got our foot in the door.”

Since then Mick Rich contractors has worked on several other church projects, including the San Felipe de Neri Church in Old Town Albuquerque in 2007, United Church of Santa Fe in 2002, La Iglesia de Santa Cruz de la Canada Church in 2003 and the Trinity on the Hill Episcopal church in 2009.

One reason Rich likes working on churches is the opportunity to be challenged and give back.

“You’ve got to think outside the box and it’s not easy, but we are good at it,” Rich said. “Those are the projects I like.”

Church remodels and additions are not the only projects the company works on. They also do work for many industries, from small repair jobs to larger building jobs, and have worked on projects from big retailers like Walmart and Starbucks to smaller-name projects like Menaul School and the Colfax County Courthouse.

Mick Rich Contractors works all around the state, and currently has active projects in Albuquerque, Roswell, Los Alamos and other areas. The company just finished work on the San Martin de Porres church and is about two-thirds of the way completed with work at the San Juan Diego Friary. Both those projects are in Albuquerque.

They will soon be starting on a restoration project at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, renovating a physical training room damaged by a water leak. In Los Alamos, they will be doing a security upgrade at Los Alamos National Labs.

While Mick Rich Contractors certainly has the niche in the church construction and renovation area, they do a wide-variety of projects that range anywhere from $10,000 to $8.5 million.

Rich is also a strong supporter of jobs in New Mexico and is on the Albuquerque Economic Development board of directors.

“To rephrase the quote, ‘This is the time for all men and women to step up and see what needs to be done to create jobs in our community,'” Rich said.

The Regulation Chasm

The Regulation Chasm:
Middle Market vs. Government

October 13, 2014

Dan Patterson, The Washington Post

Mick Rich Contractors has been in business in Albuquerque, New Mexico since 1988. Rich is a familiar face to government officials and business owners across the Southwest. But his business has fallen from a peak of 100 people to a third as many over the past few years. The reason? Rich, like many small and middle size business owners across the country, blames state and federal regulation – mainly Dodd-Frank — for negatively impacting his business.

While the financial downturn of 2008 hit small and regional business hard, the stricter bank regulations as a result of Dodd-Frank has prevented middle market businesses from bouncing back. Prior to the Act, banks based credit decisions on a number of factors, Rich said, including relationships and history in the community. Now, with the new regulatory pressures faced by banks as a result of Dodd-Frank, banks are forced to make much more complex credit decisions about what they put on their books. In other words, reduced lending is a symptom of increased regulation.

Regulation plays a significant role in the prosperity of small and middle market business, and today’s companies face two major challenges: Increased regulations on banks (e.g. higher capital levels, stronger liquidity ratios, more stringent underwriting standards) have led to decreased credit availability for all but the strongest of companies, and financial institutions have less flexibility and less ability to be creative because of these new regulations.

For example, take Rich’s experience in the last year, in this new lending environment, to demonstrate how these stricter standards are preventing him from bringing in new revenue.

“[The banks] tell me that if you’re going to use and occupy this building yourself, sure we have a loan for you,” he said, “but if you’re going to construct a building so that you can lease out the space, we’re not in the position to give you a loan for that.”

Rich isn’t alone in his frustrations. According to new research by CIT and The Washington Post, new data shows how middle market business influencers and federal government employees differently view the impact of regulation on the economy and middle market businesses.

The survey found that employees of government agencies tend to believe that regulation has a particularly positive impact on the economy and overall job growth.  Business influencers, conversely, believe that regulation has an overall net negative impact on their businesses.

However, the difference in perspective crystalizes when it comes to how each view financial regulations: 27 percent of federal government employees view regulation as a negative to the economy; 50 percent view it as a positive; and 23 percent view it as neither positive nor negative.

Business influencers see things through a different lens: 50 percent said they view financial regulation as having a negative impact on their business; 26 percent view it as a positive; and 24 percent see it as neither positive nor negative.

One thing to note: when it comes to the perception of regulation, the government takes a forest perspective, looking at how regulation impacts the broader economy; whereas those middle market business influencers are staring at the trees, in this case, their particular business.

Many economic experts believe that regulatory compliance costs and bank lending restrictions are related, and that small and middle market businesses are stymied by the financial industry’s inability to lend money due to rigorous oversight and rules from the government about the kinds of lending they can do.

According to Professor John James, Chairman Emeritus of the Center for Global Governance, Reporting, and Regulation at Pace University, the stress test and the rigid rules on asset backing for loans means that it becomes harder to loan money. This is unsustainable, he said.

Easing of the severe standards of Dodd-Frank would allow banks to lend money more freely and reduce the cost of compliance in terms of consultants, staffing or process, said Professor James.

“If you really want to solve Dodd-Frank then pause, go back and evaluate objectively,” he said. “Have congressmen, business, and regulators examine what has been the cost-benefit impact of each of the particular implementations. Look at what can be modified and what can be repealed.”

The dichotomy of views between federal employees and the business community stems, in part, from the differences in perspective between the two bodies. Federal employees tend to have a positive outlook on the impact of regulation on the economy, but acknowledge that politics adds uncertainty to the mix. Several government employees indicated that while local representatives have a lot of power to help stabilize the market, national politicians are frequently out of touch.

“Unless Congressmen go out and visit small places, they wouldn’t know what goes on,” said a federal employee. “I’m really not sure Congress knows about the specific challenges that confront small business.”

Mick Rich believes that government officials ultimately want the best for the economy and for businesses as well. He continues to work with business owners and government officials across the Southwest. Banks are learning to work with regulators and are beginning to increase the amount they are lending. Rich’s clients are optimistic and so is he.

The current problems with access to lending and capital are exasperated by legislation that is broadly applied, rather than tuned for specific problems, according to Rich. Fixing Dodd-Frank would go a long way to relieving burdens placed on middle market business.

“If I was going to write the legislation again I would separate the large, regional and small banks, and develop a set of regulation tailored for each type,” said Rich, when asked what changes would have the greatest impact on regional businesses like his. He stressed the need for small business to communicate and find compromise with lending partners and with the government.

Rich and many business owners like him support smart regulation. “We all heard about ‘too big to fail’ and we passed Dodd-Frank for a reason,” he said.

But the resulting regulations from the Dodd-Frank Act paint with too broad of a brush. Examining and tuning particular components of the Act would ease the pressure on banks and give them more flexibility to work with middle size and small businesses to help them to come back even stronger from the most recent economic recession.

Avoid Paving Travelers

On my way home in Sandia Heights a week ago, I spotted two gravel driveways being re-graded. Always good to see neighbors keeping up their properties. But what caught my attention was the contractor’s well-maintained heavy truck. No company name on the door, but they had their NM and TX DOT Numbers.

The Travelers are coming. The Travelers are here. It’s the warm-weather version of the White Walkers in “Game of Thrones.” The Travelers bring big trouble.

Who are the Travelers?

They’re called Travelers because they work far from home, and they keep moving. They stop in your community long enough to take in as much money as they can before local law enforcement catches up with them. Then they move on to the next community.

For your resurfaced driveway, they quote one price and charge another. Their workmanship is poor. Their materials are even worse.

Here’s how to spot and avoid Travelers:

  • They sell door to door to residences and business. Legitimate business do not knock on doors looking for work with their construction crew in tow.
  • They claim to have a left-over asphalt and are willing to make a great deal. Rarely do legitimate paving companies have leftover asphalt, because they have only a short time to obtain and place the asphalt.
  • They make their “great offer, which is only good for right now. No time for second thoughts.
  • They provide great verbal assurances and agreements. But they don’tprovide detailed written quotes or written agreements.
  • They will take cash or check. They don’t take credit cards, where you have time to revisit the invoice or can use your credit card company to arbitrate a dispute.
  • Their deal is too good to be true. That great price for a driveway seal coat turns out to be just oil or tack coat.
  • They usually have great trucks and equipment that do not bear any business names, local addresses, or telephone numbers.

So, avoid heartache. Avoid the Travelers. Instead, your first step in getting an asphalt driveway is to call a reputable local paving contactor.