American Abatement and Demo named the 2024 Star Client

SPOKANE, Wash.—American Abatement and Demo of Auburn has been named the 2024 Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Star Client. Business owners Mari and Aaron Borrero will be honored at the Small Business Awards Gala on May 1 at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Mari and Aaron Borrero

“Mari and Aaron Borrero have defied the odds to scale their business from essentially a two-person operation to an employer firm with a dozen employees, and they’ve done it with hard work, persistence and a commitment to lifelong learning,” said Washington SBDC State Director Sheryl McGrath. “’Growth mindset’ isn’t just a buzz word for Mari, it’s built into their business model.”

Working for others for years, Aaron was frustrated that he wasn’t always able to provide the level of service he thought his customers deserved. When Mari encouraged him to start his own business, he said, yes, if she would take on the administration, so he could focus on operations. That was eight years ago.

Today American Abatement and Demo is an SBA 8(a) certified business that is woman-owned, veteran-owned, and minority-owned with annual gross revenue of about $3M. That makes them both part of a growing trend and an outlier.

Over the past several years, Hispanic entrepreneurs have been starting businesses at a faster rate than entrepreneurs in other demographic categories, but typically, those businesses start small and stay small. The problem, according to a State of Latino Entrepreneurship report out of Stanford University, is that Latino business owners are 60 percent less likely to be approved for traditional bank loans than white business owners and the capital they do get is often more expensive.

“Mari does not shy away from challenges in her business, she uses them as motivation to grow, learn and improve,” said SBDC advisor Taryn Hornby, who was the network’s State Star in 2023 and nominated the Borreros for the Star Client award.

Mari Borrero and Kevin Grossman

Kevin Grossman, who has been the Borrero’s primary SBDC advisor since 2021, said he enjoys working with Mari because she is relentlessly curious. “She’s always learning, searching out resources, working to grow as a business leader and move their company forward,” he said.

The Borreros first reached out to the SBDC for technical assistance in 2018 when they were contemplating a leap from residential work to commercial contracts, including government contracts. Hornby, a former banker and the SBDC advisor on the Auburn campus of Green River College, helped her flesh out her financial statements, which indicated they needed to create a bigger reserve before going after bigger jobs.

While working with the SBDC, the Borreros continued to reach out to other people, programs and resources to support her business growth, including the Ascend Seattle program sponsored by the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington and the Latino Business Action Network at Stanford University.

Mari Borrero said the programs at UW and Stanford planted the seeds for future growth, but the one-to-one, consistent relationship she has with her SBDC advisors is what helps her keep moving forward. “You still need a mentor,” she said. “You still need someone beside you.”

Mari Borrero and Taryn Hornby

In 2021, Hornby introduced the Borreros to Grossman, the SBDC advisor on the Kent campus of Green River College for further assistance. One of Grossman’s areas of expertise is commercial real estate and leases, and another is government contracting.

Mari Borrero credits Grossman with helping her think through her growth strategy and also asking questions. Lots and lots of questions. She said she asked Grossman why he kept asking so many questions, and he said, “Because you need to have thought through these things to make the best decisions.”

The Washington SBDC is part of a national SBDC program known as the America’s SBDC and is managed by a cooperative agreement between Washington State University and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). About half the funding for SBDC services is from the SBA and the other half is from multiple state and local funding partners, including the Washington State Department of Commerce, Washington State University, other institutions of higher education, including South Puget Sound Community College, economic development agencies and civic and business groups.

For more about American Abatement and Demo, go here.

For more about the Washington SBDC, go here.