Victoria Mininger owns Bear Creek—a Virginia-based company she started just last June, and now she employs eight team members, including her husband! Bear Creek specializes in construction services for commercial contractors and offers architectural salvage pieces. What does all of that mean, exactly? I had an awesome conversation with Victoria getting to find out!
Her role is super creative, and after talking to her, I understand why her vision and attention to detail is so necessary in the construction industry. She was the perfect person to start this company!
I know my readers will have lots of questions about what exactly you do, and how you got into it. Tell us about Bear Creek!
Of course! My husband, Brian, had been in construction working for contractors for many years. One thing he noticed that kept coming up was the need for quality construction cleaners. At the end of a job, before the owner takes ownership, they need people to come in and clean up the dust and debris, wipe down cabinets and countertops, paint trim, and more.
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I thought, you know, there’s this obvious need. It’s simple, it’s repeatable, and the margins are really good! I was burned out from my bookkeeping job, so I decided to start my own business managing construction cleaning.
That’s awesome! I’ve never really thought about all the cleanup that goes into making new construction look pretty. I see how your attention to detail would be a strength there.
So, I happen to know that your husband now works for your business. You only started less than a year ago! Tell us about how you got to that point.
Business really picked up in a short amount of time. We eventually added rough framing and finished carpentry to our services, because there’s always a need for that in commercial construction and my husband is very talented in that area.
We started planning out what it would look like for him to make the leap and come work for Bear Creek full time. He would have to leave a very well-paying job working for his contractors.
While we were trying to decide if that would work, I came down to Nashville for the Business Boutique event in November. That weekend really allowed me to think through some critical things. It raised questions I hadn’t answered yet. It made me think, “Do we know where we’re going with this?” When I got back to Virginia, we were able to answer those questions and decided to make the leap! Brian now manages the construction side of the business full time.
That’s awesome! And it’s working so far?
Yes! We had a dollar amount in mind of what we needed to make in the first month, and we made four or five times that!
I’m so happy to hear that. So at this point you’re managing the business, your husband is working with you, and you’re continuing to add to your services.
Yeah! The cool thing was that we acquired all these unique pieces from remodels— doors, window frames, ceiling fans, those kinds of things. They were going to be sent to the landfill anyway, so the owners would give them to us for free! Then I would clean them and up-cycle them and/or turn them into something usable for other homes or businesses. We now have a salvage part of our business! So I love being creative with that.
I love it! What does your day-to-day schedule look like, and how do you balance everything?
On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays I work in the shop—either on my creative up-cycled projects or just running the business in general. On Mondays and Fridays, I’m able to be home and be with my four teenage daughters, who we homeschool. Now that they’re older and more independent, they can study a lot on their own. If I need to work on those days I can work from home with them.
That’s great. So you know that I talk a lot about your “why,” and how it’s so important to keep you going. Tell me about the “why” behind what you do.
For us the greater mission is putting people to work. Some of our employees need a place to start over and get their feet under them, maybe because of a family situation or a recent job layoff. These kind of life events affect people deeply, and being able to put their hand to meaningful work can allow healing and rebuilding to happen in their lives.
Our mission statement is, “Bear Creek provides meaningful employment in a life-changing environment through construction services and the up-cycling of reclaimed materials.” We always say we’re people-centered, not project-centered.
I love your perspective and your story, and your business is incredible. If there’s one thing you could say to someone thinking about starting their own business or attending a Business Boutique event, what would it be?
When you’re in business or starting a business, you kind of feel on your own. In the day to day, I’d love to be able to plug into the focus that happens at Business Boutique, but you don’t have that in real life. So to have gone to that event and have that conversation at the beginning of our business and learn what we needed to do, it just made me feel very affirmed.
Follow Victoria on Twitter: @vmininger