Lincoln Tyson: Multi-Million Dollar Firm with a 5-Year Project with the WHITE HOUSE!
Founder of a turnkey project management company providing services in the White House for a 5-year project, Lincoln Tyson talks about how he started and his advice for other entrepreneurs.
Living most of his life with his grandfather, Lincoln Tyson learned to hustle a lot by doing different jobs, including delivering newspapers and working at Shake Shack, KFC, and Burger King, among others.
He then got interested in business when he found a young entrepreneurship program in college. During this time, he was also pursuing a degree in economics with a major in logistics.
Tyson began his career thereafter with General Motors in Michigan. Then, he joined Gilbane Building Company after being relocated in Washington, DC, where he supervised large-scale relocation management projects.
Following his departure from Gilbane, Tyson built a consulting firm which was merged with Phelps & Phelps Consulting before founding Tyson Project Management Group, an 8(a) and HUBZone certified turnkey project management company, in 2009.
Since its founding, TPM Group has grown into a multi-million dollar contracting firm, providing information technology services as well as relocation management, logistics, and construction to both the government and private sector clients. Currently, they have a 5-year project with the White House.
With all of these, Lincoln Tyson is also a volunteer and a board member of different charitable organizations, including BEST Kids and Aggie Gentz. He is also selected by the U.S. Small Business Administration as an Emerging Leader in the industry.
BUILDING TPM GROUP FROM SCRATCH
Due to some misunderstandings with his two other partners in Phelps & Phelps Consulting, Tyson decided to leave the company and start a business from scratch.
He then rented a small shared office with two other people and paid $500 a month with no clients. It was a slow growth for TPM Group but he had to do something to feed his family.
Months after, Tyson had his first two clients. Although it was a small job, he really did everything from driving the trucks overnight and moving desks and furniture, just to satisfy his clients.
In one job, Tyson’s client even stopped paying them. So, to make the project complete and to keep his guys working, Tyson took a full time job at Uber.
“I didn’t even keep the money, worked to send my checks, to keep my two guys working, to finish up the contract. I’m very proud of that actually.”
Then after that, Tyson brought a minority partner who was able to set up meetings with different agencies and months later, they were awarded with small projects. It might have been smaller contracts as opposed to the ones with Gilbane, Tyson still made sure to deliver it.
“We’re slowly but surely, you know, because we would do a good job. You know, they kept calling and it took several years, but it got to the point where we were one of the premier, go-to logistics companies in the DMV, they wanted the DC market. And so, yeah, we just kinda, kinda scraped and clawed our way.”
Tyson even remembered that his first contract with his longest client for nine years, George Washington University Hospital, was worth $750 dollars.
“We’re here to provide a service to our clients. And so, you know, sometimes they have jobs at a lodge and sometimes they have jobs that are just this orphaned testimony that most people won’t even pick up the phone. We could care less. We’re here to service you because that job, you never know what that job is going to turn into.”
THE RIGHT TIME TO BE AN 8A
After starting TPM Group in 2009, the company only became an 8a in 2017.
Tyson believed that even though the program is supposed to help you grow, you must wait first because without past performance and other capabilities, you will just waste the first years of being in the program.
“Me, personally, unless you started a business, like we spoke about earlier where you just started off with contracts and you hit the ground running, then I think it’s okay to apply for 8a in your second or third year. But if you grow, you know, from just doing small contracts here and there, you really, in my opinion you need to wait for at least five years before you get your 8a.”
ADVICE FOR ENTREPRENEURS
1. Have faith.
Tyson went through a lot after starting TPM Group. However, even with all those challenges he just turns himself to God and has faith on which door he will lead him into.
“Well, you know, we all have our own journey, right? And some people’s journey of, you know, success might differ from another’s. But success is success, right? And so, you know, to use your term, you know, the world conspires to help.”
2. Keep positive people around.
When you’re starting out, there will be a lot of naysayers but you just have to keep going and be around with people who believe in your strength and capabilities.
“I would just say stick at it, you know, keep positive people around you. They’re going to be people around you that tell you that you can’t do it. You can do it. Trust me. I’ve seen a lot of companies do it.”
3. Keep account of your people.
As a business owner, you are handling both your business and your people so you should take account of your decisions.
“Everyone wants to eat. And so I try to make sure that, you know, it being in business with me and trusting me with, you know, your livelihood and being able to provide for your family. I take that very seriously. And so I try to compensate, you know, as well as I can, to, you know, to make sure they know I’m up. Appreciate it.”
4. Partner up.
There are a handful of small businesses in this marketplace that are willing to help you so why not go for them for guidance and work with them for some projects that you cannot do alone?
“We do not need to be crabs in a barrel. We need to help each other. We need to JV. We need to partner. We need to lift one up. We need one another up. We need to subcontract. We know one another. We need to introduce each other to the agencies that we’re in. I don’t see enough of that. You know, it’s too competitive.”
If you want to watch the full video of the interview with Lincoln Tyson as he talks about how he started and his advice for other entrepreneurs, then be sure to click the links below:
070 – Lincoln Tyson and Tyson Project Management Group: Leading the Path in Government Construction, Relocation and Logistics
5 year project with the WHITE HOUSE!!