Expo in Fresno to teach disabled veterans business owners how to get state and federal contracts

David Ruiz of Fresno served as a cryptologist aboard the USS Midway during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-80.

When he left the Navy years later, he realized that the words coming out of other people’s mouths seemed somewhat cryptic to him. Hearing loss will do that.

“Tinnitus,” he said.

He waited for years to obtain his disability rating from the U.S. Veterans Affairs even though his brother, Vietnam veteran Ray Ruiz, urged him to do so.

“I just got mine four years ago,” David said. “I was discharged from the Navy in 1988. I could have been receiving veterans’ benefits earlier.”

Those benefits include state and federal contracts for his Fresno-based construction business, Anchor 41. The “41” honors of the USS Midway CV 41 carrier that served the nation so admirably for 46 years. He is particularly pleased with CalVet’s Disabled Veterans Business Enterprise (DVBE) program, and plans to attend the one-day Central California Veterans Business Expo on May 22 in Fresno to learn even more. The process is relatively simple: Veteran business owners must obtain their disability rating from the federal VA. Then they can apply for eligibility through the state’s Department of General Services to bid on state contracts. CalVet’s DVBE program assists them along the way.

“I signed up for a DGS seminar and the guy who was speaking said that while everybody wants to go through the federal program first, the state DVBE program is actually easier,” Ruiz said. “It turned out to be true. The state process is a lot easier.”

Disabled veteran business owners like Ruiz get DVBE initiatives that help them gain more points in the weighted bidding process. He received his first contract on a $1.7 million government building renovation project.

“Because my business is 100 percent disabled veteran business, my allowance was three percent and I was two (percentage points) over the minimum,” he said.

That lowered his bid to nearly $6,000 less than the lowest non-DVBE bid, and he got the contract. These and other factors, he said, are why small business owners who meet the DVBE criteria really need to attend a seminar like the one in Fresno. Speakers will provide information that will guide disabled veteran business owners through the entire process, including how to navigate eProcure, the state’s online marketplace site.

Ruiz does business only with state and federal agencies, including the Army Corps of Engineers, to convert existing warehouses into office buildings, and at cost savings to the taxpayers.

“Instead of rebuilding from the foundation up, we remove barriers and make the buildings ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant,” he said. “It’s been a great fit.” As well it should be, removing barriers is what the DBVE program is all about.

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