Site Visit: RBV Contracting Digs Detroit

By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel

Advocacy visited the headquarters of RBV Contracting, a construction company that is rebuilding Detroit, Michigan one building at a time.  Advocacy is hosting Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables across the country and visiting local small businesses in an effort to hear directly from small businesses about what regulations are burdensome to them.

Established in 2011 and named after President Rodolfo “Rudy” B. Villarreal, RBV credits Small Business Administration (SBA) programs for laying a strong foundation for this small business and helping them grow.  RBV prides itself on being an 8(a) certified minority and HUBZone construction contractor, and has a variety of projects with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Air Force, and the General Services Administration.  With the help of SBA, RBV has increased their revenue and grown their team to 40 employees over the past seven years.

Villarreal, Vice President Jim Foucher and Sue Tellier, a local representative from the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM), sat down with Advocacy staffers to discuss the regulatory burdens that small businesses in the construction industry face and offered some concrete solutions.

The SBA’s 8(a) program was designed to help small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the federal marketplace.  Although RBV has been very successful in the 8(a) program, Foucher stated that the program is often abused by larger businesses who manipulate the system. He wants to ensure that the 8(a) process is fair, and that the applicants are really small businesses. Additionally, he noted that there are not often set asides for Michigan owned businesses. The day before at the Detroit roundtable, Advocacy heard similar concerns from participants regarding the accessibility of federal contracts to small prime and subcontractors in Michigan. For example, some participants stated that the prime contractors only utilize a few select small subcontractors to meet a government goal rather than supporting disadvantaged businesses by bringing them to the federal marketplace. These participants stressed that a “bottom-up” approach focusing on small subcontractors is optimal to a “top-down” one focusing on prime contractors.

Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel, goes deep into the RBV tour.
Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel, goes deep into the RBV tour. Photo courtesy of RBV’s photographer, Diane Weiss.

Villarreal also noted that the 8(a) application and renewal process is very burdensome, and he would like to see this process streamlined. For example, the annual 8(a) renewal process takes 3-4 weeks to complete, and the original application was literally five pounds of paperwork to submit. Advocacy staffers clarified that these type of paperwork burdens are the kind of specific concerns that the office  is seeking to identify and reform in this regulatory reform initiative; with the goal of submitting these concerns to the federal agencies.

Advocacy staffers got to explore at one of their federal sites in the suburb of Southfield, where RBV is repairing the vehicle exhaust system in the maintenance building of the 88th Regional Support Command.  Wearing hard hats, vests and safety glasses, we explored the construction site and got to see the great renovations and work that RBV Contracting does on a day to day basis.  RBV does all kinds of construction services, from site development, excavation, land clearing and repairing underground utilities.  RBV is helping rebuild this “Comeback City;” by hiring locals, revitalizing metro Detroit and being involved in the community. Check out RBV’s own blog on our site visit.

Advocacy was in Detroit for a Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable and NAFTA Modernization Outreach Meeting on March 13.

Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables.

Janis Reyes is an Assistant Chief Counsel for Advocacy whose portfolio includes labor and immigration. She can be reached at



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