Creating Opportunities: Coast Inc. Looks to the Future
Coast Inc., headquartered in Northeast Portland, provides commercial building maintenance, uniformed security services, and government contracting. Founded over 50 years ago, the family-owned firm specializes in building maintenance for office buildings in downtown Portland, provides security services for commercial and industrial clients; as well as facility maintenance at government installations in California, Indiana, Texas, Tennessee and Washington.
Coast employs more than 150 management, administrative and service personnel in Portland, Oregon and New Orleans, Louisiana. Under the leadership of President and owner Bernadette Artharee and her son Hasan, Coast remains an important part of Oregon's history as one of the state's oldest minority-owned firms, a strong member of the business community, and a symbol of success for Portland.
In their own words, Bernadette and Hasan share their vision for growing the firm.
Bernadette Artharee, President and Owner
Coast Industries was started in 1957 by my father Henry D. Scott. Today, there are three divisions: Coast Janitorial Service, Empire Security Services, and Government Contracts all under the umbrella of Coast Industries, Inc. Coast Industries became the first minority-own business to maintain Class "A" office space in downtown Portland.
Also, we found a niche in the 1980’s specializing in facility maintenance services for the federal government. We have successfully managed contracts in 14 states, becoming one of the a few minority contractors nationally with a focus in government facilities maintenance.
As a minority-owned business with over 50 years of experience, we know how difficult it is to compete for contracts. Therefore, we emphasize the importance of providing quality, service and competitive pricing.
The business experienced its biggest challenge in 2004 due to the declining health of my father, leaving a void in the daily operations and there was no succession plan. The family struggled with the question of who would lead the business or would we have to sell? Sales were down, overhead was too high, and the business was suffering. After a lot of soul-searching and the support of my husband, Baruti and my son Hasan, I am living my dream of business ownership. The first objective was to cut costs which allowed the business to invest in equipment and re-connect with every customer, including some companies with over 25 years of partnership with Coast. Customer trust has been the key to business success.
How does Coast Industries differentiate itself from the competition? We focus on two key areas:
Customer service. Currently our largest customer is NASA. We are a subcontractor partnering with Lockheed Martin in New Orleans at the Michoud Assembly Facility where the external fuel tank for the space shuttle is manufactured. We have been providing services for NASA for over 15 years. Our responsibilities for the 800 acres site include roads & grounds; building maintenance, furniture moving & assembly and hazardous waste removal.
Dependability. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina did not cause us to lose our focus on service. Due to the hurricane the majority of our staff of 100+ had been evacuated. The devastation and destruction was unbelievable. There was no telephone communication, no public transportation, a shortage of housing and widespread flooding. However, we responded when our customer called. We were told that the facility must be open for business in 60 days. Therefore, we had to contract with a temporary service and train the workers while on the job. We provided temporary sleeping quarters for workers and management from our Portland office. We successfully completed the tasks necessary to re-open the facility on time.
Lastly, I am most proud of the fact that Coast Industries has a national reputation and we are a viable competitor in our industry. Also, I have learned that what my father always said is true, the word “can’t” is not in the dictionary!
Hasan Artharee, Vice President
I grew up in this business, just like my Mother. I’ve been involved in the family business since I was 8, working summers throughout high school and college. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid to one day run the family business.
My charge is to help the company to grow. That means ensuring that our sales department is bringing in new business, and making sure that our operations department is providing highest-quality service to our customers. Of course, I’m also working on extending our family’s legacy so that it continues to grow. We’ve been here for more than 50 years, and we’re looking forward to the next 50 for Coast Industries.
Coast maintains the government’s defense facilities better than anyone else in the world. We’ve been doing it a long time, and we’ve been able to maintain that important niche. We’re also proud to be working for every facet of the department of defense.
It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to provide living wage jobs for people in our community. Many of our employees know that there’s always a potential for their families and friends to get work.
We’re part of the local union here in Portland. We want our employees to earn a living that would allow them to take care of and feed their families.
Spring 2009 Colors of Influence