Greenville's Minority Business Accelerator program helped this family-owned business grow and succeed.
The business Cassandra Brayboy started in 2000 out of the trunk of her Ford Escort is now a growing, successful family-owned business serving Greenville and surrounding areas.
Brayboy was a journeywoman in New York when she brought her electrician’s license and her family to Greenville. First, she found work with commercial contractors and then the Greenville County School District.
She would do work for her friends, family and church members in her spare time – hanging lights and fans, repairing switches and outlets. Requests for her services continued to grow, and Brayboy seized the opportunity to start her own business.
In 2019, Brayboy’s daughter, Ebony Sullivan, approached her with the proposal to join the Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) program sponsored by the Greenville Chamber. Sullivan was working for the chamber at the time and felt participation in the program could help her mother’s business grow.
Brayboy agreed, and, following an application process, Cassy Electric was accepted. That’s when Brayboy asked Sullivan to represent the company as the participant in the MBA. As a member of the chamber’s executive leadership team, Sullivan says it was a pivotal moment in choosing her path for the future.
“I did a lot of thinking and decided to bring my talents and gifts to help grow the family business,” she says.
Sullivan says the Minority Business Accelerator program was key in helping her scale and grow the business.
“I have a degree in business and well over 15 years of experience, so I came to the program with a lot of knowledge,” she says. “What they did was to help me apply that knowledge and experience in very specific ways.”
The MBA program prepares minority-owned businesses for growth and expansion that will create a competitive advantage for Upstate to become the most inclusive business community in the world. As one of the Greenville Chamber’s principal economic development initiatives, the MBA includes business development services, mentoring, technical assistance and access to large corporations for partnership opportunities.
Sullivan says the program helped her gather data and look for key indicators on pricing services. The MBA program also provided participants with access to bankers, accountants and other professionals. Establishing relationships and networking are essential benefits of the Accelerator, she says.
Sullivan says Greenville is a great place to do business.
“There’s so much diversity of business here and so many opportunities,” she says. “There is new construction everywhere, and new businesses are popping up constantly.”
All of that growth is good for Cassy Electric, she says, because “every business needs lights.”
“Mom shattered a lot of barriers, and I’m excited to walk in her footsteps. I plan to cast her name and her legacy into the future.”
She says the chamber deserves credit for helping to create a probusiness environment in the region.
“The leadership and the people who work at the chamber are thoughtful and methodical about how they serve the business community,” she says. “They genuinely care about helping small businesses become successful. They understand the importance of minority economic impact and success, and they do an exceptional job supporting and investing in minority-owned businesses to help us fly.”
‘Unicorn’ in Their Field
The uniqueness of an electrical company founded by a woman of color and now headed by a woman of color is not lost on Sullivan.
“We are a unicorn,” she says. “We are a certified minority woman-owned business and the only one in our field in the state. When I’m in the boardroom for a project, I’m often the only woman in the room and the only woman of color. Mom shattered a lot of barriers, and I’m excited to walk in her footsteps. I plan to cast her name and her legacy into the future.”
Today, Brayboy remains active in the business while Sullivan serves as COO. Her husband also works for the business, and her children are involved. The company is moving forward. Cassy Electric ended 2020 with record sales, growing the business by more than 60%. That growth is continuing in 2021.
Sullivan is committed to paying that success forward.
“We are working on creating an apprenticeship program for women and minorities,” she says. “We want to build a pipeline for a new workforce and help people create generational financial stability and wealth. We’re also looking for the next big opportunity for our company as we get into new markets.”