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Jackie Smith

New Kent Coatings, Inc.

“Hire professionals:  Make sure you have a good corporate attorney, a CPA, a strong banking relationship and set a solid business plan into action.  Strategize continuously and know where you are going in an ever-changing business climate.”

About New Kent Coatings, Inc.

New Kent Coatings is an industrial coatings/painting contractor that specializes in high performance coatings application in Power Generation Facilities, Paper Mills, Chemical Facilities, In-Ground and Elevated Potable Water Storage Tanks, Food Processing Facilities, Petroleum Storage Facilities and Waste Water Treatment Facilities. Our services include industrial cleaning, sandblasting, UHP Water Blasting, Dry-Ice Blasting, Lead Abatement, Floor coatings, Pool and containment coatings, concrete restoration, tank coatings and linings and structural steel coatings.

Headquartered: Charles City, Virginia

Founded: 2010  

Company Website:      

When and how was your business started?

I started my business in February 2010, in the height of the recession. I took the Virginia Class A Contractor’s exam, found a leased space, developed my logo and began marketing my business.

Over the previous 15 years of being in the painting industry, I saw a gap in the market where there was a tremendous need for a contractor that specialized and focused on industrial coatings. There were other companies that worked in this space, but most of them had a commercial or residential background and were not well versed in the intricacies of high-performance coatings that require an advanced understanding of rigorous engineering standards and safety protocols.

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?

Many of my customers do not care about diversity, but some do. WBENC Certification has helped me gain access to large corporations and meet some incredible WBEs in our network. My clients’ decision makers are typically maintenance engineers that are very difficult to access without a formal introduction. WBENC and WPEO have been the key to making these introductions through our corporate partners’ supplier diversity programs.

What is your business philosophy and how has it impacted your success as a business?

Personal integrity and treating people fairly and with respect. I have not lost sight of the fact that my employees in the field are the backbone of my organization. I believe that is the key to any successful business.

What are some of the biggest challenges and barriers you’ve faced as a woman business owner? How have you overcome them?

Finding qualified employees and controlling growth.  When well-rounded employees are not available, we cross-train those that have some of the skills we require. We have developed training programs that work to that end goal. On controlling growth, I never take on projects that we are not 100% ready to complete successfully. On numerous occasions I have turned down projects when manpower and/or deadlines were an issue. I would much rather not take on the project than fail, jeopardizing a relationship with a customer or potential future customer. 

Another challenge has been starting a business as a woman in a non-traditional industry for women.  When a person asks, “What does your business do?”, I respond. The following questions are a very confused series of questions such as, “How did you get into that business?” and “What does your husband do in the business?” It is automatically assumed that my husband is involved. My husband is not involved in any way in my business. I believe that women go about business differently than men.  We are organized, detail oriented, masters of multi-tasking and care deeply about our employees and their futures. Ultimately, once an opportunity is given and we deliver, the “woman-owned” stigma goes away. It is very gratifying to prove that women can succeed in a man’s world. 

What is your proudest moment thus far in business?

Purchasing and renovating my business location in 2014 after the frustration of leasing inadequate space. By doing so, we also solidified New Kent Coatings’ deep roots in our community and great growth potential.

What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs?

Hire professionals:  Make sure you have a good corporate attorney, a CPA, a strong banking relationship and set a solid business plan into action. Strategize continuously and know where you are going in an ever-changing business climate.

How did you first learn about WBENC Certification?

During my first year in business I wanted to do business in a local food processing facility. I did not have a contact at that company. I went on their website to do some research and saw a tab for “supplier diversity.” I clicked on the tab and began filling out the profile. When I got to the diversity field, I indicated that I was a woman-owned business. The next field was asking me to upload my WBENC certificate. I had no idea what that was so I had to leave the registration page.  I immediately researched WBENC Certification and applied.

What advice would you share with a newly certified WBE looking to make the most out of her certification?

SHOW UP, be yourself, and if it is your passion to help other WBEs, participate and help wherever you can. Let service above self be your priority and real opportunities for strong relationships will follow naturally.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

Always be fair and honest with employees, vendors and clients. Don’t assume you are right and others are wrong until you have all the facts. Handle business decisions unemotionally in most cases.

What do you do to prepare for the National Conference & Business Fair?

Research which corporate partners will be there and what services they are currently looking for. Once you identify the ones you have potential offerings for, research their business and their industry so that you can be fully prepared for an informed conversation when the opportunity presents itself.

What tips do you have for WBEs to get the most out of their time at the National Conference & Business Fair?

SHOW UP, be yourself and be prepared for any conversational opportunity that presents itself with corporations and other WBEs. Network when appropriate; you never know where you will find your next opportunity.

What should a every first-time attendee know about the conference before they arrive?

Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of people that are there. Have fun, be yourself and be prepared to represent your business with the passion and energy you have for it.