BAY ST. LOUIS
Meredith Anderson answers the telephone promptly, efficiently. It’s 8 a.m. No, it’s not too early and certainly not the beginning of the workday. She’s been in the office since 5:30 a.m.
One might expect a secretary to answer the business line of Can’t Be Beat Fence & Construction LLC, not the owner of the company that is fast becoming a national force in construction and the go-to contractor for some big-time federal work.
Anderson laughs at the caller’s surprise.
“I’m it,” she says. “It’s called owning your own business.”
And, she’s done well with it. Her fence construction business, which started “out of the back of a pickup truck,” was named Region IV Prime Contractor of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration — one of 20 from across the country to receive regional honors.
The honorees will be recognized during the SBA’s National Small Business Week, May 18-20 in Washington, D.C. During the week, two small businesses from among the regional contractors and subcontractors will receive the National Prime and Subcontractor of the Year awards.
“It’s a neat thing to be selected,” Anderson says. “It’s a good marketing tool for us.”
Anderson’s company has diversified, and because of SBA support, she’s been able to take “a few calculated risks.” And, so far, it’s worked.
The Hancock County-based company
has also moved into general construction along with its fencing work. And it’s reached beyond with projects into Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Indiana, where Anderson maintains an office.
“The economy forces you to either grow or lay down,” she says. “We chose to grow.”
Can’t Be Beat Fencing & Construction has been in operation since 1982 owned by Anderson’s husband, Lloyd. It was part time for Anderson, who for a New Orleans Bank that managed properties in foreclosure. But time away from her husband and four children forced her to quit her bank job and focus all her time in the construction business.
In 2000, she bought her husband’s share of the business when he fell ill.
She’s kept fencing as the main part of her business — both commercial and residential. “It’s always been my baby,” she says. But throughout the process, she “grew the resume” to include general construction.
Among her 48 full time employees are all four children: Olen, 40; Davy, 38; Vicky, 36; and Dusty, 34.
The company manufactures some of the material and assembles it all in Mississippi.
Among the bigger Coast contracts include the perimeter fence at Keesler Air Force Base and renovation at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport. It has completed more than 1,400 government projects, ranging in value from $2,00 to $75 million.
While she doesn’t want to take a job if she doesn’t think she will do a good job, Anderson knows that diversification is the key.
“As long as you are willing to grow and learn, you’ll always have work,” she says. “When you get choosey, you’re run out. If they tell us to cut the grass, we’ll cut the grass.”
She always keeps this concept in mind: “It takes a lot of jobs to make a good contractor, and only one bad job to make a bad contractor.”
Click here to view the article from The Journal of South Mississippi Business By Mike Lacy.