(WSYR-TV) — You only need to know Shawni Davis a couple minutes to know she is wired for success. “It’s good to put a face with a phone call and an email and whatever,” she says. Her electric personality is paying off big time as she builds her business as a NECA electrical contractor.
“I started in the IBEW 15 years ago as an apprentice,” says Davis. “I really didn’t know anything. All I knew is you flip a switch and light comes on. That’s it. Whatever happens in between, I had no clue.”
Shawni learned fast… taking jobs all over the Northeast to learn more. A couple years ago, she established Luminary Electrical, believed to be the first black, woman, and LGBT-owned business of its kind in Central New York.
During Small Business Week, Shawni Davis was among six entrepreneurs around the region honored by the Small Business Development Center at Onondaga Community College, one of the resources that helped her build the entrepreneurial skills needed to make her technical skills a successful business. “It’s not something that’s baked into their technical DNA,” says Bob Griffin, the new Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center at OCC. “Our role is to help them with that To provide education and guidance and resources and tools so they can make informed decisions and take informed actions.”
But awards aren’t the only good news for Shawni Davis and Luminary Electric these days. She’s just picked up another big job: The new home of the Syracuse Community Health Center.
Davis says, “All of my employees, as far as electricians, come straight through IBEW and so I’m able to hire staff from a pool of electricians that went through the same program I went through.”
The South Side Innovation Center, a program of Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management, gave Luminary its first office space at below market rates, along with more support and guidance as Shawni built her business.
El-Java Abdul-Qadir is the director of the South Side Innovation Center. He and Shawni first met when she attended SU. “Shawni has been successful because she sees obstacles as ‘How can I go over this, how can I go under this, How can I go around this. Can I go through this? Who can I bring along to assist me in overcoming this quote obstacle,” he says.
“I’ve come to attach myself to people in the business that understand it and know it because I’m still learning,” Shawni says, before pausing just slightly. “I think I’ll be just fine.”
There are resources available to small business owners in Central New York from the organizations who have supported Luminary Electric’s growth. You can find more information about the Small Business Development Center at Onondaga Community College at onondagasbdc.org and the South Side Innovation Center is online at southsideinnovation.org.