Chris Bridgewater first learned about HVAC-R systems while on deployment with the U.S. military in Afghanistan. Because no one in his camp was able to maintain the HVAC-R systems, Bridgewater got a crash course from a civilian contractor, learning enough to keep the camp systems running. Seeing Bridgewater’s newfound expertise, a colleague at the camp told him about a company that does refrigeration research for the U.S. government.
Bridgewater joined the company after he was discharged from the military. He says, “It was a big pay cut and I had to start out sweeping the floors, but the job was fun and I was able to learn from extremely talented engineers and technicians.”
In three years, he worked his way up to becoming a senior technician and project manager. When he learned about a specific product that the government needed, and that no other company had been successful in making, he decided the time had come to start his own business. He joined forces with two colleagues to start Delta Development Team LLC.
Bridgewater attended every entrepreneurship workshop he could find during his transition back to civilian life. He met his mentor David Terrell at a SCORE seminar. “The wealth of information in that presentation answered many questions and gave me a huge to do list to bring my company up a level,” says Bridgewater. He immediately contacted Terrell for mentoring.
He says, “SCORE has helped keep me focused and on track, introduced me to extremely helpful experienced individuals, providing resources and links.”
“In business there is no straight line, as the business owner it’s your job to connect the dots. When you ask a question and get an answer, do not look the gift horse in the mouth,” says Bridgewater. “Be fair, be firm, do not waiver, but be ready to admit you’re wrong.”
Bridgewater has successfully launched his business, which now has four employees including the partners. Delta has what Bridgewater calls “an extremely good amount in receivables” and has leased a fantastic workspace. His projects in development have caught the interest of several government agencies and, he says, “We have several large corporations interested in partnering with us on future products.”