E-Contractor Academy Grad Wins Zero Net Energy Contract


Ryan Tittsworth has been president of RBT Electric, Inc., for six years, but he credits his attendance at the E-Contractor Academy for his success at winning his company’s first contract with LA County. Tittsworth is a disabled veteran and minority business owner whose company is a full-service electrical contractor certified by the state of California as a Small Business Enterprise and Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise.

The E-Contractor Academy, a partnership between ECC and the County of Los Angeles sponsored by Citi Community Development, prepares small business and minority contractors to compete and perform energy efficiency – or in the case of RBT, renewable energy – retrofits for and within LA County, as well as for billions of dollars of energy-saving contracts throughout California.

Pipeline to High-Road Jobs
In addition to facilitating the county’s use of a procurement strategy promoting local, small contractor participation, the academy was designed to pursue an integrated workforce development strategy that stimulates creation of local, highly-skilled careers and a pipeline to union apprenticeship opportunities. 

“Emerald Cities Los Angeles is proud to open up opportunities for minority and disabled contractors to win contracts providing high-road jobs for low-income people of color,” observed EC Los Angeles Director Veronica Soto. “And when those workers spend their paychecks locally, the entire community benefits.”

The academy’s seven-week program from which he graduated last spring, Tittsworth said, “was a great way to increase our capacity and learn practical techniques about how to improve our business and compete for larger contracts.”

He added that the program “exceeded [his] expectations” by including speakers on important topics such as project labor agreements, known as PLAs, and employer tax credits – lots of information designed “to help small businesses grow and compete.” RBT has already bid on other county energy contracts and is awaiting the results, Tittsworth said.

Library Roofs Go Solar
Under its $963,880 contract with LA County, RBT Electric will put rooftop solar installations on two county libraries, AC Bilbrew in Los Angeles and Julian Dixon in Culver City. Tittsworth said the “design-build” project goes beyond electrical work to include aspects of general contracting as well – specifically engineering, procurement and installation. For example, the carport at one of the libraries involves underground conduits and parking lot re-striping.

In addition to demonstrating that his company has the capacity to undertake all that, Tittsworth also had to meet concerns that the project designs would not adversely affect building aesthetics or unduly interrupt library operations.

“RBT will work with library staff and county officials to ensure limited impact” on the buildings and those who work for and use the library, Tittsworth said.

Disabled Vet Hires
As a disabled veteran and person of color who currently serves as treasurer of the L.A. Chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors, Tittsworth makes a point of hiring disabled veterans for his workforce, currently numbering about 20. He said the LA County contract will allow him to expand his staff by more than 10 percent.

Tittsworth praised Soto as “a real advocate for small business” who helped him win the county contract and go on to hire disadvantaged and disabled veteran workers. She also made him aware of the county’s bid incentive program for disabled veteran-owned businesses. 

“One of the libraries is in a low-income area, so we can give back to that community” by hiring local residents, he added.