Today, meet Kari Donovan, President of Precis Commissioning, Inc. (PrecisCx), a company that provides facility commissioning and qualification service focusing on safety, quality, and operation, which started in 2014 as a result of a need to provide truly independent commissioning and qualification services.
Each year, WBENC presents 14 women business owners with the prestigious Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) Star Award, the nation’s premier recognition for excellence among certified women-owned businesses, honoring female owners for their leadership skills, business success, and ability to serve as an inspiration to others.
Meet Kari Donovan, President, Precis Commissioning, Inc.
Kari holds a Bachelors and Masters of Architectural Engineering from Penn State and began designing mechanical and plumbing systems, and providing on-site commissioning, after earning her degrees. Before long, she was joining Precis Engineering, Inc., as its first employee. Kari quickly advanced within the company while supporting the growth of a dynamic, boutique-style engineering firm. After becoming Principal, she seized the opportunity to create a spin-off company focused on commissioning and qualification services, and Precis Commissioning, Inc., was born.
Acting as the sole employee, Kari utilized sub-contractors to support initial project growth. Four years later in 2018, Precis Commissioning experienced 175% growth in revenue and ranked #25 on the 2018 Philly 100, a list of privately held companies ranked by percentage growth. Now the company has eight employees, has landed its largest single Tier 1 contract, and has moved from a sub-leased office into its own leased office.
Kari says her biggest challenge has been being a woman under 40 in an industry where there are very few younger, female decision makers.
Without a true peer group, she often has to find or create different inroads to help her business grow. While some of this is achieved through active participation in professional societies, she says it’s often about taking the time to learn about and participate in the opportunities available to her business.
Since Kari is in a male-dominated field, her passion is being actively engaged programs that encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM that will ultimately drive innovation and increase diversity in the industry.
Kari is “The Trendsetter” because she stepped into a male-dominated industry with confidence, ready to become a leader in her field and develop a company that has seen tremendous growth, while mentoring other young women to do the same.
Today, Kari shares guiding words for newly certified WBEs, her advice for new entrepreneurs, and what she views as benefits of being part of the WBENC Network.
What guiding words would you like to share with a newly certified WBE who is looking to get involved in the WBENC community?
This is not a club membership and not a guarantee to receive contracts. Your certification benefits are a direct result of your participation in the opportunities it provides. Business is relationship driven and the more involved you are in your RPO, the more the staff, your fellow WBEs, and Corporate Members will know you as a person. Work to build connections and introduce your network to one another. Those connections that result in business will never forget how they were introduced.
What advice do you have for a new entrepreneur?
In the beginning, you are your business, perform all of the tasks, and wear all of the hats. As your business grows, you become the bottleneck. There is a skillset that you bring to the business and often the things you are tackling on nights and weekends are not the true value you bring. As difficult as it is to hire or contract out these tasks, understand that there’s a cost to your health and ultimately to your business to continue to operate this way. It only makes both you and your business inefficient and limits growth.
How has your company grown and changed since its inception and since becoming certified?
The network of other women business owners is priceless! When I participated in the SBA Emerging Leaders Program, my classmates remarked on how they finally felt they had other business owners to consult with about the trials/tribulations of owning and operating their business. It hadn’t dawned on me until that moment how truly special it was that as a WBENC-Certified WBE I had access to that from the beginning.
As an independently owned partner company to Precis Engineering, Precis Commissioning ensures the viable life-cycle of your building systems and components. Our certified Commissioning Authority (CxA) agents bring an engineering expertise and depth of resources to their role. By commanding excellence in the field, we help our clients achieve operational and business success.