When Paul Morrow was growing up as one of nineteen children in Alabama, he knew he would follow a different path. While he could envision perhaps owning some kind of business someday, standing on a stage being introduced by the President of the United States as a role model to follow wasn’t what he expected.
Depending on how one counts, that specific chain of events began when Morrow was named the 2017 Small Business Person of the Year for Florida by the Small Business Administration (SBA).
In the Dec 17, 2017 article, “Small Business – Big Award”, Morrow anticipated yet another year of 100%-plus growth.
The actual entrepreneurial chronology of the Army veteran’s efforts date to when the air conditioning repairman established South Dade Air Conditioning and Refrigeration in 1985, and later changed the name to South Dade Air Conditioning (SDAC).
In becoming an authorized vendor at municipal, county, and state levels, he was finally able to have SDAC designated federally as a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business within the 8A Program.
Years of hard work and understanding how his personal vision could capitalize on this resulted in bigger contracts and continued expansion of services he
offered, to include construction.
In what others considered a risky stretch, he positioned himself to move into roadwork with the acquisition of an asphalt and concrete facility in Alabama.
That bold move and consistently being awarded out-of-state contracts such as supporting the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, Mississippi were some of the reasons for the SBA award.
In fact, Regional Director Ashley Bell was so impressed, he began requesting Morrow to appear with him at different events to explain how he’s taken advantage of the benefits of Opportunity Zone investment. Despite the
federal program being originally established by President Jimmy Carter, the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was what significantly enhanced tax breaks which Morrow acknowledges are not always easy to understand.
“I have the vision, and I hire experts to work the kinds of details to get me where I want to go,” he said.
Reid McMilion, a trusted vice-president and head of Business Development, is another expert who helped with details as SDAC achieved remarkable growth. Morrow’s decision to purchase more than 200 acres in an Opportunity Zone near Montgomery, Alabama was directly linked to his purchase of milling machines as a component of roadwork capability.
In his case, roadwork and other construction plus site prep are part of his major projects at close-by Maxwell Air Force Base. The existing facilities on the acquired property and his future plans all fit into his consistent gains of greater than 100% revenue per year.
Although this did mean they were no longer eligible to compete for 8A small company “sets asides” of federal (and many state) contracts, his “graduation” from 8A placed him into a new
category. SDAC became eligible for the 8A Mentor Protégé Program. As such, Morrow can guide other owners in many ways, to include establishing joint ventures which compete for complex and high-dollar government contracts.
The value he provides is quantifiable.
“One of the companies we brought in had between $300-400,000 revenue. In a single year with us, that increased to $4 million.”
Bell is still with SBA and was appointed to the White House as a policy adviser for entrepreneurship and innovation. He had a report about Morrow’s examples of the “win-win” use of Opportunity Zones and mentorship.
Although he’d arranged for Morrow to personally meet with the President, a new direction was proposed after reviewing his on-going accomplishments. This is how Morrow’s speech writer came to coordinate with the White House speech writer to hone his November 8, 2019 presentation in Atlanta when the President of the United States stood alongside after introducing him as a featured speaker.
In a recent follow-up to that presentation, one of the world’s largest international companies, with a presence in more than sixty-seven countries, reached out to Morrow. Discussions are underway as to what ventures with him will be feasible in the immediate future. There are numerous possibilities since he now has multiple divisions to handle the eight major functions in Construction and eleven different services within Facilities, Maintenance and Support.
Among his approximately 300 direct employees, his oldest son, PJ, will remain with operations in Alabama.
After graduating from high school, his youngest, DJ, plans to be hands-on in the company for the time-being as he decides which specific area to pursue.
Daughter Nikki is still in college until she completes her degree in nursing. It is possible a place in SDAC could be in her future considering Morrow’s latest
diversification with Dynasty Medical becoming an SDAC subsidiary.
Morrow’s philosophy holds steady for anyone with an eye toward ntrepreneurship. “When you conquer fear, you master life.”
Five Census Tracts in South Dade have been designated by the federal overnment as opportunity zones. For information about the City of Homestead's Opportunity Zones Program, contact Ana San Roman at
(305) 224-4832 or email@example.com at the City of Homestead Economic Development office.