At first, the construction business that Sam co-founded in Greenmount West was small — “not really a business,” he says. Up to a little over a year ago, Sam and his business partner Shea Frederick were working 80 hours a week, with the occasional help of a few neighbors.
Small as Four Twelve was, Sam and Shea had a clear vision: to do real estate development and construction that would serve the Baltimore community. They hired locals to help them restore old and damaged buildings in the city. They also built from scratch. One of their earliest projects was to build an entire house with three young men in the neighborhood. At the beginning, the three men had no construction skills; by the end, the house was complete and they’d earned a thousand hours of living wage labor.
Since joining IHB in March 2018, Four Twelve’s growth has been exponential. In the past year and a half, the company acquired a team of 30-40 employees who work on a daily basis, meaning that Sam and Shea only have to work for half as long as they used to.
The ability to form connections at IHB was key. “Just being around different members here, being able to pick their brains about different resources…has been big,” Sam says. Executive Director, Michelle Geiss directly referred the company to as many as 10 new clients. They were also able to acquire insurance, workers comp, and licenses for their largely Hispanic/Latino labor force through the Latino Economic Development Center–fellow members of Impact Hub.
Shortly after joining the Impact Hub community, Sam and Shea also led a Lunch + Learn, through which they met someone from the Baltimore City Office of Rehabilitation Services. Through that connection, they’ve done 10 projects with the Office’s Division of Homeownership and Preservation and have partnered with other nonprofits. Being at Impact Hub also means physical proximity to NHS Baltimore, Jubilee Baltimore, and Central Baltimore Partnership (CBP), which means access to even more partnership opportunities.
As Four Twelve grows, it’s been able to take on more ambitious projects, like repairing roofs for low-income seniors at discounted rates and donating a free roof to a resident in Greenmount West. Its next big step is to relocate to the industrial property where it runs construction activities. Four Twelve is applying for a grant from the Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative (BRNI). CBP has been administering BRNI’s grant programming.
“If we weren’t here in this space and able to interact with [CBP] everyday, it would be a lot less likely that we would eligible or able to work through that grant process,” Sam says.