First Entrepreneur in Family Scores Big


If you ask business owners in the Baltimore Metropolitan area if they have heard of Calmi Electrical Company, you are like to hear a resounding “Yes!”

Serving the community—both commercial and industrial—since 1985, President and CEO Calvin Mims, 62, has built his company on the strength of offering the best service to his customers. His company has been linked to numerous large projects throughout the city such as The Columbus Center, Camden Yards Warehouse and M & T Bank Stadium.

Mims was inspired to become a business owner because he wanted to be the first in family to own a business.

“After graduating from Carver High School, I thought I would have a job right away,” Mims told the {AFRO}.

Realizing that a high school education wasn’t enough and with a lack of funds to attend college, Mims said he signed up for an electrical apprenticeship program.

“It took me two years to get accepted into the apprenticeship program,” he said. “The first year there were 600 applicants and only 30 were accepted.”

Mims pushed forward. Applying the following year, he was accepted. “This time there were 900 applicants, and 60 were accepted.”

Mims was one of the 60.

He said, “there were not many foreman’s, not many general foreman’s, or superintendants in this industry and I was fortunate enough to work with a contractor after I finished my apprenticeship program that allowed me to move a little bit further than the blacks in the industry at that time.”

After several year of working for someone else, Mims desired more and wanted something to call his own. At the age of 34 he started Calmi Electrical Co.

“I said if I can do this for [someone else], I can do it for myself,” he told the AFRO. He said he saw the potential with owing his own business.

As a business owner, Mims said he faced many challenges.

He said,” it’s a challenge getting contracts as a minority business owner.”

The MBE (Minority Business Entrepreneurs) program was established in 1978, and designed to have money set aside for minority business owners. Under contracts companies are allotted money, which a percentage it required to be used to hire minority business owners.

“If it wasn’t for the MBE program, there would be no contracts,” Mims said. “We would probably do little residential work, or some real small projects that people would hand you, but Without the MBE program, I guarantee you, 95 or more percent of the minority businesses that are in business now wouldn’t be in business.”

Investing money he’s made back into his own business has been a tool Mims used to do larger projects.

Mims said, “Calmi Electrical has one of the best reputations in the area now, but that hasn’t changed anything.”

He said Calmi Electrical has build larger projects, however that’s because the company has developed enough capital and relationships with the bank that will allow them to bid larger projects.

As a 28-year-old business owner, Mims said as long as he has been in business, he feels like he is struggling just as much now, then when he first started.

“The struggle hasn’t eased up at all,” he said. “Everyone is suffering through the economy, but we are suffering more because we are black owned.”

With 5 employees in his west Baltimore office, he plans to continue to provide the best electrical service to his customers.

“To service our customers, to bring projects in on time and on budget and to make sure our customers are completely satisfied with our services,” he said.

Calmi’s reputation in the construction industry was built on honesty. They’ve contracted with most of the reputable general contractors and construction managers in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

Some clients include: Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, Lewis Contractors, Hensel Phelps and Tyco Integrated Systems.

“We are a viable electrical contracting company. We do our own work, we do good work,” Mims said.

He is a member of The National Electrical Contractors Association, The Building Congress and Exchange, The American Subcontractors Association and The Electric League. Mims is also on the board of the Presidents’ Roundtable—a group of African American presidents and CEOs that joined together for accelerating the growth of minority businesses.

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First Entrepreneur in Family Scores Big

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