After a successful career in research and development, sales, and marketing at leading aerospace, automotive, and chemical companies, Al Perez founded Texas High Energy Materials, LLC (THEM). The company performs contract research for United States Department of Defense agencies through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. THEM writes and submits technical proposals to address Department of Defense materials and hardware innovation needs.
“We began working on our first funded projects by partnering with local universities, working in their laboratories and alongside their research scientists,” Perez recalls. “We have grown to the point where we were able to move into our own facility, and have set up our own research center.” Perez has plans for his firm to work with other SBIR technology companies, to promote collaboration on new technologies.
“My formal training is in science, which prepared me to conduct high-level research and development, did not prepare me to start, own and operate a business,” Perez admits. Since his startup funds were limited, he turned to SCORE to make the most of his energy.
Perez attended workshops on business planning, QuickBooks accounting, and conducting business with the federal government. “The sessions helped me by showing me where my experience in business was not strong, and identifying several required programs that I did not have in place.”
Mentor Celia Bell helped Perez identify qualified accounting and human-resources professionals to add to his team. He now has support as he continues to grow his business and collaborate with other firms who can complement each other's work.