Omoné Oshiomegie Livingston’s successful partnership with California American Water.
It has been said that successful businesses are built upon good relationships. This does not happen overnight and often requires an abundance of patience. Omoné Oshiomegie Livingston, President and CEO of Los Angeles, California-based O2EPCM, Inc. (dba O2 Engineering Projects and Construction Management), can speak to that. Standing by what she calls her 3Ps—patience, persistence and professionalism—she secured a contract with San Diego-based public utilities company California American Water (CAW), which serves more than 675,000 people across the state. That led to a partnership that continues to flourish today.
When Livingston was 11 years old, she knew she wanted to become an engineer. Her inspiration? Lego bricks. It was during this time that her future career was already being built and infrastructure became her passion. Her philosophy on success was also shaped early on. Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil and structural engineering from California State University Northridge (CSUN), she received six job offers, including one that would pay handsomely for a management position. She chose an engineering company that paid less but committed to pay for graduate school.
Livingston split her time between a full-time job as a civil engineer and her college education, allowing her to earn a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Today, she is a Licensed Engineering-In-Training (EIT), a Certified Construction Manager (CCM), a Certified Envision Sustainability Professional (ENV SP) and working on a Professional Engineer (PE) license. After more than 28 years in the industry working for multibilliondollar, global engineering, construction management and general contracting firms, she decided to branch out. In September 2016, O2EPCM, Inc. was incorporated. The company provides professional, technical and consulting services managing engineering, design and construction projects, as well as providing program/project/construction management, project controls, quality assurance/quality control, Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), inspection and staff augmentation services. Clients include local, state, and federal government agencies, utility companies and private organizations.
While Livingston works around-the-clock to ensure a successful business, she also takes pride in her growing staff of 15 employees, whom she calls her O2EPCM family. The company remains connected to the local community by hiring and training individuals from the South Bay Workforce One-Stop Business and Career Center, a workforce system that keeps people employed in the Los Angeles, South Bay area. She is also a board member to several local organizations that raise funds for scholarships toward students in need.
Becoming an entrepreneur presented a few learning experiences for Livingston, one being the quick realization that patience is key. “Patience is not only the ability to wait, but it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while you are waiting,” she shares. She waited almost two years before securing her first contract with CAW. The process was not an immediate win. The reality is that securing a contract with any corporation takes time. Her company was only getting started. “We were just branding ourselves,” she shares. Both parties wanted to make sure it was the right fit.
Livingston recalls attending her first CAW event in 2017, where she met Edward Simon II, Director of Business Performance and Supplier Diversity. As he does with all prospective suppliers, Simon introduced her to key players within CAW. He encouraged and educated her on what CAW seeks from suppliers. She absorbed every detail and maintained contact with Simon during the vetting process. She also made it a point to attend every CAW event. “I was showing that I was interested. As a small, emerging, new business, you really have to prove yourself and your company’s capabilities.”
Following Simon’s advice to all agencies seeking business with CAW, Livingston did her homework. “I listened to every step Ed shared,” she says. That process included becoming familiar with CAW’s website, ensuring CAW’s services matched her company’s capabilities, following up with monthly calls, and understanding steps to prequalify for a contract.
Livingston’s efforts bore fruit. Today, O2EPCM, Inc. supports CAW on projects in Ventura County in the San Diego and Sacramento districts in California, providing inspection services and any other services as requested. She is working on expanding and growing her company into other districts as well. She also has a Master Service Agreement that governs future transactions with CAW.
With an intention to empower businesses in the world of supplier diversity, CAW developed the Water Acumen Training for Entrepreneurship Refinement (W.A.T.E.R.) inaugural program. Established in 2019, the program increases the chance of businesses being viewed as a “safe choice” to subcontract on million-dollar projects by receiving its Diverse Business Enterprise certificate. Livingston was part of the inaugural class and is a proud graduate of the program, which is a testament, she says, that CAW “wants everyone to succeed.”
CAW’s business partnership also presented Livingston with the opportunity to speak at the Annual Supplier Diversity Virtual event held in August. She was one of only two Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) to speak. Her business is also a certified small, minority and woman-owned enterprise. The resulting exposure opened new doors to potential clients and growth, for which she is “forever grateful”.
With these experiences in her stride, Livingston envisions growing outside of the California region and being certified as a Hub Zone and an 8(a) small business as her company continues to expand. Her patience, persistence and professionalism have paid off as the backbone to her success and that of her flourishing partnership with CAW.
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