The Detroit-based supplier of specialty and sub-contracting products has demonstrated significant growth since opening its doors in 2014.
Young, scrappy, and hungry.
When you listen to Taryn Sulkes describe Eagles Specialties, LLC, of which she serves as the President and CEO, you might draw a parallel between her business and the song “My Shot” from the hit Broadway musical, Hamilton. Eagle Specialties is young, having only been in business since 2014. It’s scrappy, having grown from just $5,000 in revenue five years ago to about $1 million today. And it’s hungry for more, with its sights set on hiring more employees and purchasing the building it operates out of Detroit’s Belmont neighborhood.
“We’re young and we’re scrappy,” she says of her construction specialty and sub-contracting business. “And we’re here to stay.”
From tumultuous beginnings to a bright future
Eagle Specialties began in 2014 out of a 140-SF office in Detroit in an effort to take advantage of the city’s downtown building boom. It consisted of four business partners at the time: Taryn, her husband, and two other women.
Though first-year revenue was modest, the young company began to grow, with Taryn serving as the key cog behind much of it. She marketed Eagle Specialties, networked, learned how to read blueprints, did takeoffs, wrote estimates, and even performed some installation work. Things really took off in 2017 as Eagle’s footprint in the industry grew larger. In an effort to take another big step, Taryn attempted to purchase another specialties provider. However, after the two sides failed to reach a deal, Taryn hired her husband as a full-time employee and bought out Eagle’s other two business partners to chart the company’s path forward.
“This is part of our history, this is part of what has defined us,” she says. “We topped out with $950,000 in revenue in 2017, we were able to buy out the other two business partners, and move into a new building. None of our jobs were impacted by the change and, in fact, service levels increased, which we’re very proud of.”
Currently, Eagle Specialties operates out of a 9,000-SF facility in Detroit’s Belmont neighborhood, which it hopes to purchase soon. Taryn also hopes to hire additional full-time staff by the end of 2020.
“We’re in it together and we know Eagle Specialties needs to be successful not just for our family, but for our community,” Taryn says. “Right now, our neighborhood in Detroit is really economically depressed, and to be able to have a business able to contribute to the community and to hire from within the community is vitally important to us.”
Building on a strong project resume
Eagle Specialties furnishes and installs the likes of toilet room accessories, toilet partitions, fire extinguishers, cubicle tracks and curtains, lockers, shades and blinds, projection screens, and display systems in the Great Lakes region. It’s able to furnish anywhere in the continental United States. It qualifies as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Women Business Enterprise (WBE), Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and Detroit-HQ certified, and is 85% Native American owned and 15% Asian-American owned.
To date, some of Eagle’s notable projects have been installing toilet partitions in Little Caesar’s downtown Detroit headquarters, installing toilet partitions and accessories at Ford Motor Credit, and installing lockers, toilet partitions, and toilet room accessories at the Detroit Medical Center Critical Care Tower.
Barton Malow subcontracted Eagle Specialties to install temporary fire extinguishers and fire extinguisher carriages at Little Caesars Arena. It’s also installed six temporary fire extinguishers at the Wayne County Criminal Justice Center so far.
“The people that we’ve worked with at Barton Malow, I can only say good things about,” Taryn says. “The people have been very pleasant to work with. The experience has been very welcoming, the people are very genuine, and they want to know about your business and what you can do. They want to know where you can work out the best within the Barton Malow family. They don’t want to set up suppliers for failure.”
Putting family above all else
The Sulkes are both second-generation business owners, and in addition to putting family first, they also emphasize integrity, honesty, authenticity, and loyalty as core company values.
“We treat our end user and our clients like they are our family,” Taryn says. “We’ve aligned with people whose values are the same as ours.”
This often means going above and beyond the call of duty. For instance, one of Eagle’s big jobs was furnishing toilet partitions – among other accessories – for the Marathon Administration Building. After construction, however, Taryn received a call from the owner about a gap in one of the toilet partitions.
“We just furnished the partitions, we didn’t install them,” she says. “But we were happy to come out and take a look at it. Instead of installing from the outside in, the installers did it from the inside out – it left a giant gap. We reached out to the manufacturer and had a custom bracket made to close the gap.”
It’s this type of service that Eagle Specialties hangs its hat on. That, and being available 24/7 and transparent to meet client needs.
“I know our business,” Taryn says. “I know what we’re capable of and what we can produce. I’m not afraid to prove it to you.”