Each month, WBEC South takes an insider’s look at a leading woman-owned business, its formula for success, and how it’s making a difference.


Donna Burlon
AHA Mechanical Contractors, Memphis, TN

Define your business.
AHA Mechanical Contractors is the only locally and nationally certified Woman Owned Business for our trades in the Greater Memphis area.

AHA is a commercial and industrial HVAC, Refrigeration, Plumbing, Gas and backflow company. Our employees repair, replace and maintain our customers equipment through knowledge and customer service.



Why did you decide to become a business owner?
I was a Sales Manager at The Peabody Hotel for many years and loved what I was doing. Our company needed a sales person and we just couldn’t find one so I said who better than me? So I quit my full time job and came on board with the company full time.

What has been the biggest obstacle you have faced and overcome in business?
Our biggest challenges have been finding the right line of business, finding qualified technicians and finding funding for growth. We started out in the residential market, but when we started getting into commercial jobs, I truly found my passion. Finding the right techs now comes with general interviews followed up by an interview with our Service Manager to find out what they really know. Finding funding is still hard, but you have to have your true budget numbers and consider your Banker and Accountant as part of your Board of Directors. (Your Attorney, too)

How has being a member of WBEC South helped you?
WBEC South has helped me partner with other WBE’s to join forces on opportunities or to just get advice when needed. It has also opened doors that I would have had little or no opportunity to get in.

What are your goals now? Where do you see your business going?
My goals now are to stay focused and grow my business. There are so many opportunities out there that we haven’t even tapped into yet. Our lease is up in October and I want to move to a stand alone building with lots more space.

What bit of knowledge/advice would you like to share with other women/women business owners?
There are days when I have said that the stress is too much, but then you land that one account that makes it all worth it. You just have to push yourself some and get it done. Stay true to your values, follow your dreams and keep your attitude positive.

What is the best advice you have ever received?
Character is everything. Honesty, hard work and giving a competitive deal will always pay off.

What is your favorite quote?
I have so many, some funny, some serious and some that are in-between, but here are my favorites…

* I’m so far behind, I thought I was first
* Work with me people
* Many people don’t win because they quit too soon
* I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

What has been your greatest triumph regarding your business?
Our greatest triumph to date has been getting the right people in the right positions. Focusing on who we want our customers to be and strategically making it happen. Some big wins in the last few months are taking care of CVS, Auto Zone, Lenny’s and Wal-Mart in the greater Memphis area.