Nimley Bestman’s story is not just a story of Building Markets’ success. Nimley’s story showcases a variety of best practices that other local businesses can learn from.
Nimley is the owner and CEO of BESCO Construction and Woodworking, Inc., which was established in 2008. The company grew at a slow pace, especially because Nimley did not want to borrow any money.
“It’s been slow. It has taken some time to build the place,” Nimley said. “Because this is a family-owned business we don’t have enough money to move at a fast pace. You get small money, and you do things step by step.”
Initially, they heard about contracts through word of mouth. At first, the woodworking portion of the business took off, leaving construction far behind. At that point, Nimley let the company’s construction license lapse, pursuing the side of the business with more opportunities.
Most of the company’s clients were and still are individuals. People come in with their own designs or visit the showroom and choose something they like. BESCO also regularly provides woodworking services to construction companies. Previously, none of the company’s clients were large buyers.
Building Markets changed this by recommending the company, along with several others, as a potential supplier that could meet UNICEF’s procurement regulations and standards in woodworking. BESCO went through the registration process with UNICEF then bid on a tender sent by Building Markets via e-mail and SMS for school furniture for schools in Lofa County.
“Bidding is not challenging for me,” Nimley admitted. “Attending bid openings is important. You learn what you didn’t understand or what was missing.” Of the five companies that bid and had all the requirements, Nimley was the only one at the bid opening.
Once BESCO won the contract with UNICEF, the first thing to do was purchase warehouse space in Lofa County. The contract required that they deliver the pieces in Lofa. It was easier for the company to make the pieces in their shop in Monrovia and assemble them in Lofa.
“We received $6,000 price quotes for transportation to Lofa,” Nimley said. “Instead, we went to Lofa and got truckers there who already took goods to Monrovia and were heading back to Lofa. It was less money then.”
The deadline for the contract was June 30th, but Nimley gave himself a deadline of weeks before the due date. “In the end, we succeeded in impressing them by giving the complete order weeks before,” he said.
Nimley ended up completing the work before the schools were even constructed. This was a slight problem since UNICEF couldn’t pick up the order and Nimley was leasing the warehouse. Nimley ended up extending his lease on the warehouse for an additional two months. UNICEF had to commission the Ministry of Education to foot the bill; however, the money was two months late. Despite this initial loss, Nimley knows it’s worth it for such an important client like UNICEF.
“In business you have to think about tomorrow,” Nimley said. “The UN is a major client. If you have to bend over backwards hopefully they remember that. [The leasing situation] put us in a good position with them [because] we were helping them overcome a problem.”
This is sound advice for many local businesses. Establishing good relationships with, and sometimes “bending over backwards” for, large buyers in the country is the only way to win more contracts with them. Relationships and customer service are particularly important to UN agencies and international NGOs and private companies.
More importantly, says Nimley, is that UNICEF called BESCO best in country of UNICEF’s suppliers. “I set out to prove myself to them that we can do the work wherever in the country, however remote,” Nimley said.
Despite the late payment, the $42,000 contract with UNICEF enabled them to meet two of BESCO’s major goals: applying for a construction license and purchasing a delivery truck. The construction license will enable them to receive more business while the truck will cut costs in future contracts.
Nimley expects that his company will work more with UNICEF, especially because their first order with UNICEF was so well received. Plus, UNICEF is continually building more schools that need furniture. All of this, Nimley says, is because of Building Markets.
“I cannot praise Building Markets enough,” Nimley said. “I definitely couldn’t afford marketing. Building Markets was a life-saver. They helped give us a contract that has rated us best in the country.”