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Gulf War Veteran Says State And Federal Programs Fueled His Company For Expansion

Crystal Clear Maintenance Inc. owns Craft a 50-employee company that specializes in providing janitorial and landscape services for commercial office buildings, medical buildings, factories, stores, schools, government offices large projects. Craft, who originally hails from Louisiana, played in the Canadian Football League and for a short stint with the Seattle Seahawks. Businessman Douglas Craft is reaping the benefits of both national and state efforts to support the country's veterans.

He served in the Army during the Gulf War. (His father served in Vietnam and his brother also served in the military.) A Friend invited him to visit angel Fire in northern New Mexico, and he decided to stay. 

He moved to Taos and opened his business there nine years ago. Later, he opened another office in Lawton, Okla., and a little more than a year ago, he opened an office in Albuquerque. 

 Once settled in Albuquerque, he visited the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services to see if there were benefits available that he could use for his business. "I didn't know anything about my benefits," Craft said in a recent interview. "I didn't know anything until I came to their office and they laid it out for me." 

 Now the Veterans Services people consider him their poster child, according to John Garcia, secretary of the N.M. Department of Veterans Services. "My business grew 400 percent since I was classified as a disabled vet," said Craft, who added that his feet were injured during his military service. 

 The state Department of Veterans Services, along with the Small Business Administration and other business organizations, worked together to make those programs available to veterans like Craft. "I don't want to have to happen (to today's veterans) what happened to Vietnam veterans when they came back," Garcia told the Journal. "We were no. 1 in suicides, unemployment, and divorce rates."
Garcia, a Vietnam veteran, was appointed secretary in 2004. He had owned his own business and had been the state secretary of Economic Development.

In 2005, the Department of Defense held a national conference for veterans who owned businesses to explain all the benefits available to boost their businesses.

"They expected 400 people to show up and they had 800 small-business (owning) veterans shown up," Garcia said. "I listened and I saw what they had to offer, but I wondered how are they going to implement it at the state level. It was great at the federal level."

He came back and decided to target veterans in business. His agency partnered with Development Centers and with the SBA and others to set up VETPro, the Veterans Enterprise Training Program. They held a state Veteran Business conference in 2005. They've held two more of the conferences since then, one each year.

During the gatherings, they have what Garcia called "matchmaking," where veterans vendors meet with the federal entities that need their goods and services.

In addition to the annual conferences, the N.M. Department of Veterans Services worked with the Small Business Development Centers to present entrepreneurial training to veterans at locations around the state.

Another recent benefit for veterans is the SBA's Patriot Express loan program. It offers a streamlined application process with a lower interest rate and a higher guarantee for the bank or financial institution lending the money. In additional, a couple of local financial institutions are offering even qualifying veterans.

Santo Domingo Tribe

Crystal Clear Maintenance was established in 2000. Crystal Clear is a Veteran Owned, Services Disabled Veteran, Hubzone Certified, 8(a) Certified, and Small Disadvantage Business. The company provides Janitorial/Custodial, Window Cleaning, Construction Clean-up, Carpet Cleaning, Landscaping, and Floor Maintenance services in both Commercial and Government facilities, working on large projects throughout New Mexico.

Mr. Craft and his company, Crystal Clear Maintenance, Inc. have and continue to make a number of contributions towards supporting community-oriented projects. Mr. Craft came to Santo Domingo Pueblo and donated two flags to the Santo Domingo Pueblo Veterans. one was the American Flag and the other was the State of New Mexico flag. I would like to say from the Santo Domingo Pueblo "Thank You" and continue to do good things in the State of New Mexico.

I have seen Mr. Craft's plan and prepare for the growth of his company and successfully manage the growth which he has created. I believe that this is just the beginning of success for Mr. Craft and his company, as he is a very astute and able business person with a tremendous vision for the future of his company.

First N.M. vet receives Patriot Express Business loan

Crystal Clear Maintenance Inc. of Ranchos de Taos has become the first New Mexico company to receive a Patriot Express Loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). John C. Woosley, SBA New Mexico District Director, announced the loan, which was initiated by First Community Bank. The Patriot Express Initiative guarantees portions of commercial small business loans up to $500, 000 for veterans, reservists, members of the military in career transition, and their spouses. Douglas R. Craft, President of Crystal Clear Maintenance, was congratulated by John Woosley in a signing ceremony conducted at SBA's.

Albuquerque office attended by the SBA staff, Roy Brandy of the first community Bank, Cabinet Secretary John M. Garcia, New Mexico Department of Veterans' Services, and President, National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs. Mr. Craft was introduced to the SBA Patriot Express Loan Initiative by the New Mexico Department of Veterans' Services. 

 Crystal Clear Maintenance offers full-service cleaning and maintenance for business offices, medical buildings, manufacturing facilities, retail stores, schools, and private homes. Douglas R. Craft is a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He also played over 10 years of professional football, two years with the N.F.L. Seattle Seahawks and eight years with the C.F.L. Baltimore Stallions. Mr. Craft stated "I experienced an efficient and timely process in getting my loan approved. First Community Bank was there to guide me through the steps of this loan product, and the loan is meeting my business needs."

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SBA District Director Woosley stated, "This is a brand new initiative that reaches out to veterans and members of the military community. the program features SBA's fastest turnaround time for loan approvals, We anticipate being able to offer this important financial product together with the participating lending community to existing New Mexico entrepreneurs to meet their needs for expansion, equipment purchase, working capital, inventory or business-occupied real-estates purchases, etc., as wee as to individuals wanting to establish their own business"

Secretary Garcia said, "The short duration between the introduction of the SBA Patriot Express Loan initiative and the closing of this loan for Mr. Craft speaks to the close working relationship between the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services and the SBA. This is the way state and federal government agencies need to be working together to serve our veterans."

Letter of Support to Operation Firing For Effect

Dear Mr. Simes,

I am writing this letter to emphasize my support for Operation Firing For Effects (OFFE’s) cause for Mandatory Funding for Veterans’ Healthcare Services. As a former professional football player for the Seattle Seahawks and a successful business owner, I wish to express my enthusiastic support for the OFFER cause to ensure healthcare obligations to our veterans.

We have a generation of young Americans that are putting themselves in harm’s way on behalf of this great nation. We benefit from the sacrifices of these brave men and women, and it is our duty as a nation, as a community, and as Americans, to be there for them during their time of need. Overlooked however are the many wounded that must return to VA centers for lifelong treatment. We also owe this group a debt of gratitude and our unending support.

As a former professional football player and Service Disabled Veteran business owner, I urge other veteran professional athletes and business owners to support the Mandatory Funding for Veterans Healthcare. In particular, I commend the OFFE mission and am of the opinion that the campaign 2008 in support of mandatory funding offers veterans hope that their healthcare services are protected. I am here to let you know that I stand for our troops and please let me know if I can be of further assistance as you move forward with the OFFER master plan.


Douglas Craft

President was asked to speak at the 4th Annual Veteran Business Conference

Douglas Craft was asked to sit on a panel of Service Disabled Veteran Business owner success stories. This session provided the panelists with the opportunity to give an account of the trials and tribulations they faced as they were on their way to success.

Doug highlighted turning points in his business including how his one stop at the Department of Veteran Services to get a license plate led to a change in his business direction. His company has grown substantially since he was classified as a service-disabled veteran company. He talked about how on October 21, 2004, President Bush issued Executive Order 13360 which encourages Federal agency contractors to strengthen opportunities in contracting for Service-disabled Veteran businesses.

Last year President Bush signed Public Law 109-461 which increased opportunities for Veteran owned and Service-disabled Veteran-owned small businesses. There are many initiatives that federal agencies are taking to maximize the availability, applicability, and usability of all administration small business programs for Veterans and Service-disabled Veterans.

He highlighted how he was the first beneficiary of the Patriot Express loan here in New Mexico, and how it was an essential tool to help his business to grow. The New Mexico Department of Veterans Affairs works for you all. It is the epicenter of resources for Service-disabled veterans and Veteran business owners. So no matter where you are in the business process they are here to assist you every step of the way.

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