Celeste Phillips believes that working for someone else forces you to put your own dreams on hold. But working for yourself, she said, allows you to fulfill your dreams.
Celeste Phillips, owner of Big Lulu’s Trucking LLC:
Working for yourself is like fulfilling your own dream. Working for somebody else is putting your dream on hold.
My name is Celeste Phillips, and I am the owner of Big Lulu’s Trucking LLC. Big Lulu’s Trucking LLC is a tri-axle dump truck company, and we do tri-axle hauling. Different things like dirt, concrete, and asphalt.
The way the day starts for me is, like, I get off from one job, and I go straight to the next job.
After her third shift job driving a Pittsburgh city bus, Celeste goes to work again. She meets with her husband and operations manager, John, does some maintenance work on her truck, and then hits the road.
Try to get on the road and beat traffic.
I knew a few people that owned dump trucks, so I hung around and learned the business a little bit. Then I sat down and had a conversation with John, and we talked about it, and we talked about the numbers and how much money it made, and we made it happen.
But in order to make it happen, Celeste needed funding. And that’s where Bridgeway Capital came in.
Shawn Thomas, entrepreneur lending director, Bridgeway Capital:
Bridgeway Capital is a CDFI, which is a Community Development Financial Institution. We work with Wells Fargo in helping putting money into small business in low- to moderate-income communities.
I went to Bridgeway with $50, and they gave me a loan for $10,000. I found a truck for $10,000, and we got our first truck. And it was a rust can, but we worked it, and we made that money back like 100 times.
John Phillips, operations manager, Big Lulu’s Trucking LLC:
The truck we have now, we recently acquired a few months back. It was white originally, and we got it painted pink, because that’s her truck.
The Wells Fargo Diverse Community Capital program has really helped Bridgeway Capital in the way where we’re able to extend more money out to small businesses. Big Lulu’s Trucking, the fact that they’re able to hire people within the community and put them to work, is an empowerment in itself.
Bridgeway helps us in refinancing our loan so that we can buy more trucks. And that way, when we get more trucks, we’ll be able to hire more employees, and my dream is to get some people off the street by giving them a good paying job.
I think it’s awesome that Wells Fargo reaches out to places that lend to smaller businesses and helps us out, because normally we wouldn’t have these opportunities. Given a chance, I mean, some people may surprise you.
I’m running my business out of my home now, and this is the house that my great-great-grandparents bought when they migrated from down south back in the early 1900s. And about six generations of us were raised in this house. It’s sentimental to me to be able to have this in this community and still have this house.
Being inside this truck, it’s my dream. And we work hard to make it come true.
(Sound of truck honking)
That’s why she started Big LuLu’s Trucking LLC, a construction and hauling company in Pittsburgh.
Before starting her own business, Phillips said she knew people who owned dump trucks, so she learned the business from them. When Phillips needed funding, she turned to Bridgeway Capital, a Community Development Financial Institution, or CDFI, that provides capital and business education to develop low- to moderate-income communities, increase access to healthy foods, expand social services, and help small businesses grow.
In May 2016, Bridgeway Capital was one of 15 CDFIs that received $22.3 million in lending capital and grants as a part of Wells Fargo Works for Small Business®: Diverse Community Capital program. The program is awarding $50 million in lending capital and $25 million in grants to CDFIs over three years — helping the CDFIs provide diverse-owned small businesses access to capital, technical assistance, business planning, and other resources. Beginning this year and continuing through 2020, Wells Fargo has committed an additional $100 million in grants to CDFIs.
Phillips said she went to Bridgeway Capital with $50, and the CDFI loaned her $10,000, which she used to purchase her first truck. She earned that money back once the business got started, and since then, Bridgeway Capital has helped Big LuLu’s Trucking refinance its loan to buy more trucks, upgrade to newer equipment, and hire more employees. Today, the business has five trucks and employs six people.
“Being inside this truck is my dream, and we work hard to make it come true,” Phillips said.