02/07/2013 02:20 pm ET Updated Apr 08, 2013

Creating Jobs and Growing the Economy

I was born in Charleston, South Carolina and graduated from the College of Charleston with a BS in Geology. Upon graduation, I moved to Louisiana and worked at the Louisiana Geological Survey (LGS) as a geologist for five years.

While working in the coastal zone for LGS, I noticed thousands of oilfield production pits that needed to be remediated and closed. Thus, QRI began to assist in the restoration process of coastal Louisiana by bringing oilfield legacy sites into compliance. Over the past 27 years, QRI has grown through hard work and dedication of a staff that now produces annual sales of over $8,000,000, has completed over 4,500 projects, and provides services in six divisions.

This geologist learned very quickly that my geologic education did not teach me about capital, contracting, how to run a business, strategic partnerships, and how state and federal laws impacted my business, thus we faced many challenges in the early years. On the job training QRI required vastly improved my prayer life in the early years. However, I would not recommend "Oh God, Oh God please help me to become a better business person" as any business woman's only plan to improve her administrative skills!

The three biggest challenges QRI has faced over the last 27 years are capital, entering the federal market, and winning federal contracts.

To overcome some challenges, we participated in every course offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) in our area. One of those courses, Emerging Leaders or e200, required six months of effort and continues to benefit the growth of QRI.

The e200 curriculum was well thought out and included written resources that my upper management at QRI still uses, including our Strategic Growth Action Plan (SGAP). My instructor, Sherif Ebrahim, was an excellent teacher who pushed me to SUCCEED. My SGAP was so detailed that it was instrumental in increasing our bank AR line by 32%. At the request of a major banker, we prepared an updated SGAP and submitted in June 2012 to successfully increase our AR line by an additional 24%.

The difference between e200 and other private sector offerings that I attended is that the course was REAL WORLD and not just classes where you learn terms to take a test and then forget. The e200 course allowed me to develop a valuable set of tools that are repeatedly used by our upper management. Today, Sherif Ebrahim continues to be a resource to me and my company. If I would have benefitted from a program like e200 earlier in my years, my challenges would have still occurred, but I would have experienced success faster.

As a result of our participation in the 8(a) program and courses such as e200, QRI's revenue and access to capital increased by over 50% from 2010-2011 and staffing increased by 22% (14 new hires).

Fonda Lindfors New
Quarternary Resource Investigations (QRI)
Baton Rouge, LA