Q&A: Tonya Hicks, President and CEO of Power Solutions, Inc.
Ms. Hicks is proud to be one of the 5.2% of women-owned construction businesses in the U.S. powersolutionsintl.com
We are so inspired by your story of being the first woman to attain the status of inside journeyman wireman in your hometown of Meridian, Mississippi. You are a serial entrepreneur, mom, and a journeyman wireman electrician in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
1. In a few sentences tell us a little about your business — the clients you serve and the services you provide.
Power Solutions provides electrical, mechanical, IT, and facility maintenance services; utilizing renewable energy and digital automation to help our clients achieve their sustainability and financial objectives. Our target market is midsize to large companies that have a vested interest to utilize renewable energy and digital solutions for energy efficiency, process efficiency, and sustainability. These companies also have an environmental sustainability goal to reduce their carbon footprint in the next 10 years.
2. Describe the moment you decided to start your business and what was the inspiration behind it?
I was a 28-year-old journeyman wireman in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); working on a construction site. A foreman that worked for the General Contractor had a sidebar conversation with me. He said, “If you’re going to tell everybody on the job what to do you might as well run your own company and be compensated for it!” That statement stuck in my head. I had been “running” the job without having the official title/position or compensation.
3. All great businesses, at their core, are providing solutions to life’s challenges. What challenges does your business aim to solve for your customers/clients?
Our company’s core purpose is to provide digital automation, energy, and sustainability solutions for the world’s most critical problems; food, water, energy, connectivity, and mobility. We are providing our clients with the most innovative solutions to address these issues. From consulting to implementation, we provide a turnkey solution for energy efficiency, process efficiency, asset performance, and/or sustainable building practices.
4. What does being a founder/entrepreneur mean to you?
Being a founder/entrepreneur means having an opportunity to innovate, disrupt, and improve the quality of life for people today and generations to come.
5. We know that founders of color face a number of challenges in not only creating but successfully operating their own business. As efforts are made nationally and globally to address racial inequity across industries, what role do you believe founders of color can have?
We need a platform to tell our stories and the ability to be transparent and provide feedback to corporations.
6. You are clearly navigating in a male dominated industry. How is experiencing the growth of your company from Mississippi to Georgia and beyond? Did you find that any aspects, in regard to treatment within the industry, change over the years?
I started my business in 2000, and nothing has changed. It’s just as challenging to get access to opportunities, contracts, and/or capital. The dynamics change in business depending on the part of the country or world you’re in. However, being a double minority, has challenges my male counterparts don’t have to face or deal with on a daily basis. What I do know is it takes a million taps on that glass ceiling to break it and I’m determined to be still standing when it comes down for good!
7. Is there a founder of color, historically or present day, who inspires you? And why?
There are many! Madame C.J. Walker would be one. She built an empire with incredible leadership skills, innovation, and guerilla marketing tactics during a time that it was impossible for women to do business without a man in control.
8. What’s your one piece of advice to someone who dreams of becoming a founder/entrepreneur?
Jump and then build. Trust your gut instincts. Believe in yourself and have faith in God to guide you. And no matter what, don’t give up!
Learn more about Power Solutions, Inc. by visiting their website: powersolutionsintl.com.