Theophilus lyasele launched Toki & Associates Inc. on a part-time basis two years ago while working full-time as a civil engineer at an engineering consulting firm. In November 1989, after getting turned down for a number of bank loans, lyasele had to use $5,000 in savings to grow his business into a full-time venture.
In 1990 he convinced his current partner, Olaitan Olapo, Toki's 35-year-old vice president, to leave his position as a civil engineer at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT). The entrepreneurial duo knew they made the right decision once they landed a $100,000 contract to perform structural design and development work for a new elementary school for the Milwaukee public school system.
Toki & Associates, which has seven employees, has since landed contracts with two of Milwaukee's largest architectural firms. The company made $200,000 last year and expects to hit $400,000 by year's end.
Iyasele and Olapo recently put their engineering design expertise to work for themselves when they broke ground on an 8,000-square-foot building. They plan to occupy about one-fourth of the space, lease out half and save the remainder for future expansion. "This move positions our business so that we can grow," the 31-year-old Iyasele notes.
Olapo attributes the firm's success to the business relationships it has built with the larger contractors in Milwaukee. Says Olapo: "We learn the way things are done, and they get a subcontractor they can trust."
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|Date:||Dec 1, 1991|
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