Military veterans contribute to our community in many ways and play a vital role in our economy as small business owners and entrepreneurs. Through Metro’s Business Interruption Fund (BIF) and the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project Business Solution Center (BSC), Metro has supported veteran small business owners. And now we’d like to shine a spotlight on four veteran small business owners within the Crenshaw community.
Taylor Mayfield, Tax Ease Plus
Taylor Mayfield, the owner of Tax Ease Plus, served in the U.S. Air Force from 1968 to 1972 and is a Vietnam Era veteran. During the first three years of his deployment, he was assigned to a refueling outfit and worked on a variety of aircraft in Korea. During his fourth year, his lieutenant assigned him to the accounting office.
Mr. Mayfield recalls this assignment as a turning point in his life and the reason he pursued a career as an accountant when he left the military. As the proud owner of Tax Ease Plus, his business provides accounting and tax preparation services to “mom and pop” businesses located in the Crenshaw community and elsewhere.
As a small business grantee of Metro’s BIF program and an actively engaged participant of Metro’s BSC, Mr. Mayfield gives back to the Crenshaw business community with the expert advice he provides to other local business owners. “I’m very content with the BIF program, and as a recipient myself, I’m knowledgeable of the program requirements,” he said. “We like helping people get ready to apply because we can relate to what they are going through. As an accountant, I am also able to teach business owners how to manage their businesses for the long run.”
Tax Ease Plus is located at 4371 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90008. For more information, visit taxeaseplusas.com.
Kevin Williamson, Hair Architects
Kevin Williamson is another proud veteran small business owner located within the Crenshaw community. Mr. Williamson, an independent contractor at Hair Architects, served in the U.S. Navy from 1991 to 1995 and was assigned to the USS George Washington Nuclear Aircraft Carrier. He served as an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate – Equipment (ABE) or Airman, and was given a variety of duties, including assisting with launching aircraft from the flight deck and assisting with the testing of nuclear equipment.
Mr. Williamson’s experience in the Navy changed his life. “The military taught me to be a leader and the importance of being responsible for other people,” he said. After leaving the Navy, Mr. Williamson decided to continue his career as a stylist and barber, something he has always had a passion for. The skills he learned in the military have helped him in running his business, especially during construction along the Crenshaw corridor. “Although the BIF has been a breath of fresh air, being detailed oriented and a ‘team player’ are skills that have served me well in sustaining my business during construction,” Mr. Williamson said.
Hair Architects is located in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall, 3650 W. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Unit #241, Los Angeles, CA 90008.
Larry Broussard, IT IS, LLC
Larry Broussard, owner of IT, IS, LLC, is a veteran of the U.S. Army, having served from 1982 to 1985 in Strategic Communications. He was assigned overseas and also served at the Pentagon for one year.
Mr. Broussard became interested in technology when his 7th grade class was introduced to brand new IBM computers. The Army allowed him to advance his interest in technology and develop personal skills that led to increased self-discipline and strategic thinking. Those skills allowed him to advance in rank rapidly while in the Army and have now made him a more effective business owner.
As the construction along the Crenshaw corridor has impacted Mr. Broussard’s location, he has expanded his business in support of the Crenshaw community. Mr. Broussard also obtained certification with Metro as a Disadvantaged Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) and is a subcontractor performing services for Metro’s BSC.
Mr. Broussard continues to provide support to other “mom and pop” business owners in developing fully integrated information technology (IT) systems for their businesses. “I am proud to be part of the BSC. We are helping business owners sustain during the challenges and learn how to deal with impacts,” he said. “In the Army, I learned tenacity and to keep moving forward, which is what the BSC and the BIF are helping us do.”
IT IS, LLC is located at 5348 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90043. For more information, visit them at itisllc.com.
John Williams, Universal College of Beauty
John Williams, owner of Universal College and Beauty, served in the U.S. Army from 1945 to 1952. He was drafted during World War II, three months after turning 18 years old, and was first stationed at Camp Claiborne in Louisiana. He was later deployed oversees to China and Burma. While at Camp Claiborne, he was promoted quickly; within three weeks he became a staff sergeant because of the skills and qualities he had developed during high school at Manual Art’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).
When Mr. Williams returned home, his parents employed him at Universal College and Beauty, which they had opened in 1930. He remembers first working as a janitor and then filling in where needed. Unbeknownst to him, that his mother was training him to take over operations of the school.
Mr. Williams has been able to draw on his military experience to succeed as a business owner throughout his career, including more recently when the school was impacted by construction of the Crenshaw/LAX Line project. “The training you receive in the military, especially regimentation, is important for running a business,” he said. “Although this has helped us remain in business, we are thankful for the assistance we have received from the BIF.”
Universal College and Beauty is located at 3419 W. 43rd Pl., Los Angeles, CA 90008. For more information, visit ucbla.net.
The four veterans featured in this story demonstrate the diversity of the small business owners that Metro has been able to support through the BIF and BSC as we build infrastructure for the Los Angeles County’s future. Metro’s commitment to small businesses is ongoing and is represented by the level of investment we have made to the communities where rail construction projects are active. In fact, the BIF has awarded more than $11.4 million to 252 small businesses that have been impacted along the Crenshaw/LAX Line, Purple Line Extension, Section 1, the Little Tokyo area and the 2nd/Broadway segment of Regional Connector. For more information about the BIF and BSC, visit metro.net/bif and metrobsc.net/Crenshaw.
Photos of business owners taken by Juan Ocampo for LA Metro.