Woman Business Owner Taps Unlikely Industry

AYROne would be hard pressed to find another African-American female owned and multi-million dollar equipment leasing company in the New York metro area or the country for that matter. It?s a unique factoid that entrepreneur Avis Yates Rivers is quick to share with everyone. As the owner and CEO of Technology Concepts Group International (TCGI) in Somerset, NJ, ?her baby?, as she affectionately calls it, will top revenues of $20 million by the end of the year.

Under Rivers? watchful eye, TCGI has carved a niche into a market that is virtually untapped by women?especially women of color. Equipment leasing and servicing is the primary component of TCGI and includes the monitoring, replacing or disposing of a company?s computer system. The disposing of outdated or inoperable technical equipment is not as simple as it may seem. For example, when a company wants to get rid of old equipment, TCGI offers them several options, some of which require certain legal and environmentally friendly requirements. ?There are specific guidelines that we must follow,? Rivers said. ?We can sell the equipment, refurbish it, dispose it or donate it.? TCGI?s client list includes, Bank of America, Cisco Systems, Freddie Mac and Verizon. With her calm demeanor, quiet sophistication and elegance, some might contend that the job of overseeing the disposal of bulky and potentially hazardous technical equipment is an anachronism for someone like Rivers, a serial entrepreneur. But it?s not. ?I always knew that I would eventually own my own business,? she said. ?I just didn?t know what type of business it would be.?

After her job as an account executive for a relatively obscure division of oil giant Exxon Corporation ended, Yates launched her first company?Word Processing Express from the basement of her home in 1985. After a series of setbacks, comebacks, challenges and wins, the company eventually morphed into her current enterprise.

Rivers, 55, is perhaps one of the most effective people to offer advice and guidance to would-be entrepreneurs. She did just that earlier this month as a panelist at a daylong conference in New Brunswick, NJ that was hosted by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). The event awarded more than $45,000 in seed money to three emerging women owned businesses.

Rivers encouraged the crowd to network, keep abreast of changes in their industry and to remain involved in the community no matter how large or successful they may become. Additionally, she encouraged the crowd of women business owners to remain vigilant and amenable to current and future investors. ?With more capital and equity partners, any small business will grow a lot faster and vigorously,? she said. ?Attracting the right partners and keeping ahead of the competition affects the bottom line?by making it bigger.?