This Female, Native American, Service-Disabled Veteran Couldn’t Get Funding And Kept Getting Scammed. Here’s How She Built GC Green.
When Liz Perez returned home to Southern California in 2006 after serving in the Navy, the combat veteran found herself in another trying chapter. The single mother was pregnant with her second child, and homeless after fleeing a verbally abusive relationship. She was also recovering from muscular and skeletal injuries caused by an accident sustained while on active duty in Bahrain. While living in a Motel 6 near Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, she worked full-time at Xnergy, a construction company. She used her disability check and savings to buy a home and set aside $5,000 to start GC Green. The Vista, Calif.-based installation and consulting business specializes in environmentally efficient solutions for older buildings — be it LED lighting, solar panels or updated boiler systems. Even though checking the box for 6 different minority groups would get her into a host of small business workshops, the female, disabled veteran with Native American and Latin roots couldn’t get funding for her clean energy upstart. She discovered a common practice among prime contractors is scamming veteran-owned small businesses by using their credentials to win contracts but then failing to share the business. Instead of taking them to court, she turned to networking and negotiating for survival. In this interview, which has been edited and condensed, Perez discusses how she rose above her scammers and built GC Green to $2.3 million in revenue with 25 employees, one-third of whom are veterans.