Family Business Receives 2006 Success Award

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TLL Electric, Inc. was born when Larry and Traci Bishop decided they did not want to work for anyone else.

Two years later, the success of their business has been recognized with the 2006 Success Award from Arizona's Small Business Development Center Network.

"We install traffic signals, lighting for streets and airports and water treatment plan controls, usually as subcontractors," Traci Bishop said.

Larry got into the business 14 years ago when he decided a change in professions was in order.

"I was a boiler maker to start and that darn near killed me. I figured electricity would be easier to work with," he said.

A dozen years ago they used to handle all of the Arizona contracts for Perez Electric out of California.

When the owner of Perez semi-retired, the Bishops decided it was a good time to take the big step of owning their own company.

"We basically got on our feet by working with contractors that knew us," Traci said.

As a small company it would have been difficult to break into their particular electric niche cold, but because of the time they had spent with Perez their reputation earned them several big jobs at the beginning.

"The keys to success in this or any kind of business are staying true to your word," she said. "Larry doesn't ask his employees to do anything he wouldn't do himself."

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One of TLL Electric's six employees digs a hole to install a loop detector -- the wire under the road that tells a traffic light that a car is waiting.

The Bishops agreed that the enjoyment of ownership makes it easy to face the daily challenges and responsibilities of running a business. When they worked for Perez, they really didn't have control. Now the Bishops can plan the direction they want their business to grow.

"Which is scary sometimes," Traci said. But she doesn't think about the fear. Going out on their own was the "natural thing to do.

As they got their business off the ground, Judy Miller, director of the Small Business Development Center at Gila Community College in Payson, helped TLL through confidential one-on-one consulting.

Through the ASBDC, the small company was able to get designated as a small business (a company with under 200 employees), received moral support, sound advice and referrals to accountants and financiers.

"I started with Quickbooks and Judy put me together with a lady who tutored me when I was having problems," she said. "The (ASBDC) paid for the first session which was really nice starting out.

"The program is a great outlet for business owners and I don't think a lot of people know about it. I found it when I started looking at the different financing that was available as a small business."

The program is around for as long as the Bishops want help.

"It is a nice asset for business owners. We have a lot of small businesses in Payson and I really think that they should take advantage of this free service."

Miller nominated several businesses and they are sent to the state SBA office. A selection committee then selects a winner.

According to Miller, the committee looks for businesses that have shown income growth, added new employees because creating jobs is important, shown good business sense by using sound accounting practices and showing excellence in customer service.

"TLL Electric, Incorporated has done all of that," Miller said. "They are a wonderful company. Their growth has been phenomenal, really. I am still working with Traci to get them 8A certified which is an SBA certification for getting government bids, which helps them continue to grow."

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