Veteran-owned small business lands third government contract

Tri-Citians know a lot of the bigger names in the federal government contractor arena thanks to the proximity of the Hanford site.

But not all government contracts have to do with Hanford and not all government contractors are big companies.

Patriot Rooter & Irrigation LLC is a locally-owned and -operated small business earning its bread and butter through federal contracts unrelated to Hanford site work.

Patriot landed its latest — worth $400,000 — in mid-May with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, laboratory in Seattle, where it will maintain the grounds.

It’s the third government contract Patriot has landed.

Francisca Garrison, chief executive officer for Patriot, said the company found a niche in contract work for the federal government.

James G. Espinoza, a longtime Pasco resident who is president of Patriot, started the company in 1999 with his brother Christopher Espinoza as Patriot Rooter Services Inc. Both are proud
Marine veterans.

The brothers came into the business with backgrounds in municipal public works. They quickly found a niche. Patriot was one of the only companies in town with a colorized sewer camera and locator, which helped them to more accurately identify problems in the residential service lines of customers.

When James took the company over in 2014, he added “& Irrigation” to the name.

“We decided to focus on general contracting … and when we did that, it really took us to a whole different level,” he said.

Garrison, a close family friend, stepped in to help with the transition and became a full partner in 2018.

Patriot Rooter & Irrigation LLC provides hardscape design and installation services, landscape design and installation, irrigation design, installation, repair and timer adjustments, and sewer-related services.

Their groundskeeping services include commercial pesticide/herbicide application, pruning and trimming, mulching and edging, weeding, mowing, planting, thatching and aerating, pest control, general grounds cleanup, fertilization and plant replacement—all with a mind to the conservation of natural resources and sustainability, which translates to value added for their environmentally-focused customers.

Janitorial services also are in Patriot’s wheelhouse.

“A big believer in green construction, Mr. Espinoza believes in doing the best to keep our environment sustainable for the next generation,” Garrison said.

When it comes to clients like NOAA, having knowledge of environmentally-friendly methods is paramount, James said. That is why Patriot hired an environmental scientist, Lindsey M. Styron, who serves as project supervisor for the company.

Patriot employs six who work across Washington, primarily along the US-Canadian border, where Patriot holds a General Services Administration, or GSA, contract to maintain all land ports of entry along the Washington border.

“One of the things that sets us apart is we’re veteran-owned, woman-owned and a small business,” Garrison said. Patriot is proud to be a pro-veteran hiring company.

“As a general contractor, Patriot Rooter has established a list of preferred contractors that are equally committed to customer service,” Garrison said. “Mr. Espinoza directly oversees subcontractors from beginning to end and works hard to negotiate the best prices to pass along to customers.”

Patriot landed its first government contract in 2016 through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, with help from a counselor at the Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center, or PTAC, at the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce in Kennewick.

The company secured its two subsequent federal contracts with help from the PTAC team as well.

PTAC helps businesses at no cost to find, bid, win and perform on federal, state and local government contracts.

Garrison said the USDA contract “was a perfect one for us to get a feel for what it’s like to have a contract and be responsible for a federal contract.”

To compete for federal contracts, Garrison said the company had to do a lot of research to gear up the company.

“In between though, we had been submitting proposals for different contracts, learning how to write them, submitting them and following all the rules and getting rejected. I think we learned really quickly,” she said.

James added, “It’s been a challenge but it’s been very rewarding when you see what you’ve put together has finally been accepted.”

James said that “there are organizations out there who will say, ‘Hey, let us put this together for you for like $7,000.’ … But we’re like no, we’re going to do this ourselves and we’ve been pretty successful.”

“If we hadn’t had the help from PTAC, we would have never been able to do this. Never,” he said.

“They’ve always been available … They’re there to support us,” Garrison added.

“There is a lot of opportunity for small businesses,” James said.

Though Patriot Rooter & Irrigation has pivoted its business focus to federal contracts, the company still provides general construction services to residential and commercial customers on a project-by-project basis.

“We’re not shy to look at what a customer may need and see if we can provide it for them. We’ll let them know if we can or can’t. Locally we still want to have a foot in the door here in our community,” Garrison said.

“From Tri-Cities to the Lower Valley, we’ve done a lot of work,” James said. “We’ve had a nice relationship with the Kennewick and Pasco housing authorities, apartment complexes and restaurants, but I think for us, the government contracting is a good place to be for us.”

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Patriot’s contracts have remained active.

“With Covid-19 going on, we are very fortunate because we are considered essential personnel to the work of the Department of Homeland Security,” James said.

Though Patriot has been approached about out-of-state contracts along the southern border with Mexico, both James and Garrison agreed that for now they want to focus on serving the needs of Washington and the Northwest region, keeping the company’s growth steady and sustainable.

“We love what we do, we really enjoy what we do, and we want to be good for our customers, but also do good for our employees and support them any way we can,” Garrison said.

Patriot Rooter & Irrigation LLC: 509-531-7886,

Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC):

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