New Consulting Firm Focuses on Construction Companies

By Ben Hoger, Michigan Works! Southwest

The phrase “it takes a village” usually applies to raising children, but Donovan McVey and Joshua Gray are taking the unique approach of applying that to new local businesses. McVey and Gray are co-founders of the business consulting firm Room 35 in Kalamazoo, which focuses on sustained accelerated growth for construction companies. The two noticed a large gap in support during the early stages for these companies and began connecting with local nonprofits and philanthropic organizations to help augment the expenses that prevent these businesses from growing. Having the tools and resources to even begin the growth process is where Room 35 excels. “Smaller companies don’t often have the ability to afford those services,” McVey said. “And it becomes more difficult as they grow.”

Room 35 has partnered with local businesses and organizations, such as PNC Bank, Southwest Michigan First, Stryker, and the City of Kalamazoo, to help make it possible to partner with smaller companies. “I think what we’re striving for – what the community is looking for as well – is a space where businesses get the best from whomever they work with,” Gray added. The two have also created capsule projects within Room 35 to better focus on targeted needs, including one called Core 60, which focuses on helping BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and women-owned construction companies and contractors become licensed. In the rare case that they are not able to take on a business, the owner is guided toward a resource that can help them prepare for the next steps.

Gray stressed that the key to growing a new business is caring for the business, the business owner, and the community around the business. McVey and Gray met as students while working as tutors in the finance department at Western Michigan University, and while they don’t claim to be counselors, they still take a caseworker approach to monitoring the mental health of the owners they are partnered with.  “Not only do we make sure the business is healthy, but the owner is healthy too,” Gray said. “Emotionally healthy.” This is done through relationship building, personality evaluations, and simple check-ins to see how the owner is doing. All of this is done in the interest of keeping that relationship for years, and even decades, down the road.

Gray said they are always looking to partner with economic development firms, city spaces, nonprofits, and construction management firms to continue to grow their already robust network in Southwest Michigan. “If you’re in the [construction] industry and you want to partner with an organization that has a lot of forward momentum – 2024 is going to be a great year,” Gray said. “The sky’s the limit this year. All entrepreneurs out there with their heads down, pick them back up.”