LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Small firms are now able to bid on Los Angeles County projects thanks to a program that allows them to access resources that previously only large contractors had been able to obtain.
Civil engineers Karl Percell and Kit Wong were among those who benefited from the program. The two formed their own company, KPA Constructors Inc., in 2017, after meeting on a Metro construction job.
"There's an opportunity here to participate on these projects to really get in there and face the challenges of being on these historic projects, but being on them as owners instead of employees," said Percell, president of the firm.
Small contractors often face an uphill battle to compete with larger, more established firms. For example, Percell and Wong faced a challenge to secure bonding, which protects clients from financial losses, for a $4 million job as part of Metro's regional connector project.
"The bonding companies, they were like you're too new. You're too small. You can't have it," Percell recalled.
To support smaller and more diverse contractors, LA city, county and Metro launched the Contractor Development and Bonding Program which provides education, training and bonding.
Percell and Wong say without it, they would not have been able to keep the job and move on to bigger ones.
For example, KPA Constructors installed the radio communication systems for Metro's regional connector project and they are now working on four other jobs.
And they say there's plenty of room for other small business owners to work with this program and bid on these contracts.
"We're talking about a historic redevelopment of the public transportation system within LA County," Percell said.