Rising to the Challenge
A spirit of determination leads woman-owned DCG Environmental, LLC to thriving success
In the male-dominated world of construction, female entrepreneurs are few and far between. For many women, one of the biggest struggles is being taken seriously and earning the respect of their peers.
But for the determined and tenacious Shelley Hines, such adversity did not deter her from partnering with her husband, Robert, to launch DCG Environmental, LLC to provide environmental services to clients across Texas. In fact, overcoming the status quo is what drove her to push past societal expectations and assume a leadership role as President of the business, which has had year-over-year growth since its inception in 2016.
“We’ve experienced consistent growth ever since we opened,” Shelley confirms. The company achieved $1 million in sales last year, a sign that the leadership’s customer-centric focus is paying major dividends. “We view our clients as partners and not just another sale,” says Robert, who serves as Director of Operations. “We are here to save them money and time. We build relationships with our clients and treat every building as if it’s our own and as if we are the ones paying for it. We take pride in the fact that we use our experience and integrity to protect our clients’ interests.”
The flourishing firm is headquartered in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and has two branch offices—one in Killeen that handles projects in the Austin and Waco areas, and another location in Houston that opened last fall. Currently, the team offers its services for projects ranging from large, multimillion-dollar contracts to small, short-term jobs. Those services include asbestos inspections and management, mold testing and protocols, indoor air quality monitoring and related services, and environmental site assessments. Thanks to the integrity and professional conduct of its skilled staff, the company has earned a reputation for being honest, capable and highly attuned to the needs of clients.
Time for a Change
DCG Environmental’s explosive success is remarkable for such a young company. But when one considers the backgrounds of its talented leaders, it all adds up.
The decision to open DCG Environmental—originally named Delta Consulting Group—was made to break the cycle of unsteady work that Robert experienced during his career working for various environmental consulting firms. For the Hineses, the symbolism of the Greek letter “Delta,” which translates to change, represented a positive shift in their future prospects.
“The construction industry is very cyclical and project-oriented. It is very common for contract workers in this field to be laid off after a project is completed, which happened to my husband three times during his career,” Shelley says. Finally, the couple was ready to make a change. “I just looked at Robert one day and I said, ‘Why don’t you go into business for yourself?’ ”
This simple thought spawned a serious dialogue. After spending 17 years in the industry, Robert had amassed a wealth of knowledge, diverse project experience and most of the essential tools of the trade. The idea soon evolved into a realistic, actionable plan. However, while Robert possessed the technical talent to perform the work, he still needed a reliable business partner who could proficiently handle the administrative and human resources tasks of running a company.
Enter Shelley Hines—beloved wife and mother, and certifiable guru in business administration. Leaving her successful and satisfying career in corporate America for a field in which she had zero experience was not an easy decision, however. “At first I was anxious about doing something I had never done before,” she admits, “but it was also exciting to start something new.” In her mind, it was a worthwhile sacrifice if it meant creating a more stable and rewarding future for her family.
The Determined Entrepreneur
Though a novice in the field of environmental services, Shelley possessed valuable administrative, financial and managerial expertise working for both large and small companies, plus she had previously run a home-based business for over a decade. “I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” she says. “I have worked for big corporations with management and director-level positions as well as small businesses wearing multiple hats. Through these experiences I gained a full picture on how different people and departments can operate together to make a company more successful.”
After DCG Environmental was formed, Shelley obtained her asbestos inspector license so she could go into the field with the crews and learn about each process firsthand. “I wanted to know what it felt like to be in the field,” she explains. “I wanted to have that education so that I could talk with clients knowledgeably and know how to price a job. Understanding the technical side of our industry has been a big learning curve for me, but I’ve had several people tell me how impressed they are with what I’ve learned in such a short amount of time.”
Such affirmation has buoyed Shelley’s confidence that she and her husband are on the right path to building a robust operation that stands the test of time. Another noteworthy achievement is attaining certification as a women business enterprise (WBE) through the North Central Texas Regional Certification Agency—a feat that certain naysayers claimed would be impossible.
“It’s very common in our industry for people to put the business in the wife’s name, but the wife is hardly involved in the business, if at all. As a result, certification agencies have gotten stricter on how to qualify,” Shelley says. “I can remember one person telling me that I’ll never get the WBE certification because he didn’t get it. And I’m like, ‘Well, that’s because your wife doesn’t really run the business. I do.’ ”
She continues, “It was a challenge—people telling me I couldn’t do it—but I love that. Tell me I can’t do something and that’ll be the first thing I do!” To further boost the company’s visibility and increase opportunities for contracts, DCG Environmental is also designated as a small business enterprise, a disadvantaged business enterprise and a historically underutilized business.
Naturally, advocacy for women in construction is important to Shelley, who has been an active member of the Association of Professional Women in Construction since 2017. She became a board member in 2018, applying her passion for success to help empower, encourage, equip and educate other female professionals in the industry.
Another point of pride for the company is being honored by the Regional Hispanic Contractors Association as a Luna Rising Star Firm of the Year in 2017 (it was nominated again for the award in 2018). This recognition is given to women in construction who take great risks to break new ground, demonstrate innovation and trendsetting, and exhibit the potential for growth into an established enterprise.
Primed to Skyrocket
As DCG Environmental continues to prosper, the plan is to expand operations even further—next into San Antonio—as well as build the company’s employee roster. “We are really looking forward to providing our services in new markets and offering additional services,” says Shelley, who talks of eventually obtaining lead inspection certification for the firm and enhancing its nimbleness in meeting clients’ needs by having multi-licensed employees. She adds, “There are all kinds of ways we can expand—we’re barely scratching the surface now. It’s just a matter of putting systems and processes into place and then make them duplicatable, which will make us skyrocket even faster.”
She continues, “We love the idea of providing more opportunities for full-time employment as we build our team of caring professionals. We enjoy being part of a small-business economy that is supporting growth in our communities.”
Any way you slice it, Shelley’s leadership as the majority owner of a business with annual gross revenue in the top tier of all business types is impressive—especially in a male-dominated profession where women represent a small fraction (roughly 10%) of the total workforce, according to 2018 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Shelley concludes, “Some women in this industry have failed. It sometimes seems like people are still waiting and watching for me to fail. But that’s not going to happen. DCG Environmental is here to stay.”