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Friday, Jul 19, 2024

Special Report: Women-Owned Businesses – Amy Tsui

Amy Tsui

Ace Fence Co.
La Puente
Business: Installation of fencing
Year Founded:1949
Employees: 120
2021 Revenue: $29 million
Rank on list: 27

Ace Fence Co. originally started in the San Gabriel Valley in 1949, primarily servicing homes and commercial projects. In 1988 Ace was acquired by entrepreneur and philanthropist America Tang, who had emigrated from Peru and is of Chinese descent.
Tang owned and managed the company until 2016, when her daughter, Amy Tsui, stepped in to continue the family business. Today, 85% of Ace Fence’s projects are public works or infrastructure-related, 10% are commercial and industrial and 5% residential.
The Business Journal asked Amy Tsui to give her perspective on being a woman business owner.

Question: What prompted you to go out on your own and become a business owner?
Answer: I am a second-generation woman owner of this company. I went into the family business because I was proud of the company my mother(ran). It went from a small residentialfence company to one of California’s largest public works subcontractors. It is a business I am proud to be apart of.Thinkingback, I’m sure I considered other careers. I love real estate. But I always knew I was meant to be a part of Ace Fence Co.

What changes have you made to the company since you took over?
Since our family acquired the company, we have changed directions and started bidding on public work jobs that allowed us to grow and now cover all of California. We specialize mainly in chain-link fence and (guard rail) work for (the) government, highways, schools and other public entities.

“Part of being successful in business is having that real connection with people.”

In your experience, has being a woman helped you more or hurt you more in starting or operating your business?
I think being a woman has helped. Ace Fence Co. has a good reputation in the industry and is known for its quality work. So, in this male-dominated industry, I don’t see people looking down on me because I am a woman. They see our work, and that speaks highly in itself. Also, there are specific jobs where the general contractor is required to have women-owned businesses to participate as subcontractors, which has helped.

What’s been the biggest challenge to you in your business?
Our biggest challenge is keeping a consistent cash flow. We, as a subcontractor, are often at the mercy of the general contractor for us to be paid. Also, maintaining the proper equilibrium between backlog work and an adequate workforce is another challenge.

What’s been the biggest reward?
My biggest reward has been learning and appreciating that Ace Fence is a tight-knit family. Everyone at Ace is my biggest supporter and will not let me fail. I feel that this energy and teamwork continue to keep us growing and expanding.

What’s your assessment regarding the likelihood of the U.S. economy entering a recession? And what are you doing to prepare for such an occurrence?
I think that as long as there is employment available, we should be OK. My company does a lot of government work that will help us stay afloat and will not affect our line of business.

What advice would you give a woman who wanted to start her own business?
Don’t be intimidated by those who have been in your industry longer. Yes, you will meet some people who will not support you, but many will and want to see you succeed. Also, don’t forget to be yourself. Part of being successful in business is having that real connection with people. And a real connection can only be made by being you. You got this!

If you could turn back time, what would you do differently with regard to your business?
In my personal experience, I was not prepared for everything that came with this profession. I was intimidated by those who have been in this industry longer, so I thought less of myself. If I could go back in time, I would have approached things differently and more confidently. I wouldn’t have been so afraid of what others thought of me. It took a few reminders from myself to remember that no one goes into any industry knowing 100% of what they are doing. That knowledge comes with experience – and a lot of mistakes to learn from.

– Howard Fine

Howard Fine
Howard Fine
Howard Fine is a 23-year veteran of the Los Angeles Business Journal. He covers stories pertaining to healthcare, biomedicine, energy, engineering, construction, and infrastructure. He has won several awards, including Best Body of Work for a single reporter from the Alliance of Area Business Publishers and Distinguished Journalist of the Year from the Society of Professional Journalists.

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