Carolyn Stradley - Paving Company Near Atlanta With BC-Women in Business
MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) _ Carolyn Stradley got an early taste of the special difficulties she would face heading her own asphalt paving business when she tried to get a loan to buy her first dump trucks.
The banks rejected her loan application even though she offered to put up 20 percent of the cost of the trucks as a down payment.
″The banks thought it was funny,″ said Ms. Stradley, 39, president of C&S Paving Inc.
She had her brother, her partner in the business, obtain the needed loans. He had to put down only 5 percent. But Ms. Stradley was too busy starting a business to pursue what appeared to be a case of sex discrimination.
″My challenge was to get us what we needed,″ she said. ″We have bankers that call on us now.″
Ms. Stradley has overcome adversity far more serious than a rejected loan application. She grew up impoverished in the mountains of northern Georgia. When she was 11, her mother died and her father left his children to fend for themselves.
She eventually moved to Atlanta, where she was married at age 15. Nearly two years later, she was expelled from high school because she had become pregnant and school officials did not want her around other teen-agers.
Her husband contracted a serious kidney illness when she was 21 and he died five years later.
Ms. Stradley had to support the family by taking on more responsibility at the paving company where she was a secretary and bookkeeper. She took civil engineering classes at Georgia Tech. When she had gone as far with the company as she felt she could, she left to run her own business.
It was founded in December 1978, operating from the kitchen table. For the first job, Ms. Stradley and her brother built pathways for a botanical garden. They took jobs the larger companies felt were too small.
Ms. Stradley no longer operates heavy machinery. But she prepares the blueprints, the contract bids and the purchasing orders and keeps the company running from an office in this suburb north of Atlanta.
Employing 23 full-time workers, the company has annual sales of about $2.5 million, she said.
This June, it won a $744,00 runway repair contract at Dobbins Air Force Base. The Air Force described it as ″the largest single contract let to a woman-owned business through any Air Force Reserve base.″