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Celebrating Black History Month with Apex Electrical Group CEO

February 27, 2023

Pictured above: Marcus and Team on the Terminal 46 Project

While Diversity in Contracting works year-round to support Black-owned businesses, it is important to us to celebrate Black History Month and the Black-owned businesses that partner with the Port and make our work possible. We had the honor of speaking with one of our partners, Marcus Cola, about working with the Port, his experience in the Port Accelerator program, and what Black History Month means to him. 

Marcus Cola is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Owner of Apex Electrical Group LLC, located in Auburn, Washington. AEG is known amongst Port of Seattle staff for its excellent performance on Port of Seattle projects and is well-respected in the many trade and WMBE communities of which it is a valued member. Lisa Phair, Port of Seattle, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Manager, describes Marcus as a go-getter, willing to help others, always visible at Port of Seattle events, and very approachable.  

The transcript has been edited below for clarity and brevity.  


About AEG and its Partnership with the Port 

Marcus headshot
Marcus Cola, Apex Electrical Group LLC CEO & Co-Owner

Tell us more about Apex Electrical Group 

AEG is an electrical company focusing on industrial installations, including wastewater treatment plants, underground duct banks, conveyors, and control systems. We also offer services on airfield lighting, medium voltage installations, troubleshooting, testing, repair, distribution gear procurement, layout, panelboard, transformer installs, and general electrical rough-in on commercial settings. We also provide civil dirt work such as trenching and excavation for joint utility, vaults, and duct banks. 

What projects have you worked on at the Port?  

We have had the opportunity to receive multiple Port Electrical On-Call contracts since last year that we are currently working on. In addition, we are working on completing the Port of Seattle Seating Replacement project that we are working on with Prime Electric. We are also starting the "Meet Me Room" project with Mortenson, which will begin soon. 

You are a graduate of the 2022 Port Business Accelerator Program. What was your experience in the Program and who would you recommend it to? 

The Business Accelerator is a great way to learn the basic building blocks necessary to understand some of the processes of working with the Port. It is a great way to have an open forum to ask questions and get helpful feedback when it comes to Port expectations. 


On Being a Black Business-Owner 

What experiences have you had that are unique to being a Black business owner?   

As a business owner, I see the best and worst of the stereotypes that come with being Black and in business. Good, or bad, it has helped me gain more perspective on who I am and what I am trying to accomplish with this business. Recently, my father told me about the trials and failures he faced while trying to step out on his own to chase the American Dream of business ownership. He told me that despite his failures, he is proud that I am succeeding and fighting the stigma against Black-owned business by not giving up when times get tough like he did.  

What does Black History Month mean to you?   

I am blessed to be an educated, successful veteran, who would not have an opportunity like this in my life, if it wasn't for the courage, sacrifice, hard work, and diligence of who came before me to make sure freedom and equality were for everyone. I am excited for my children and their children to continue that legacy. 

How can people and organizations support Black-owned businesses this month?   

If people and companies are willing to make a point to engage in conversations with people and companies that don't look like them, to further dialogue and understand their history, they might find a different approach or answer to a particular problem they couldn't solve before. 


Words of Advice  

Have you had the opportunity to support another WMBE firms’ growth?  

We have had the opportunity to support firms outside the Port occasionally and we constantly communicate with WMBE firms to work together on Port projects. 

What advice do you have for other WMBE/small businesses when it comes to bidding for Port projects? 

It truly takes a great team to tackle the vast requirements that the Port demands. One of the best things a WMBE/small business can do is participate in the Port Business Accelerator Program to hear how the Port works through its process and immerse themselves in all the networking opportunities offered. I had the chance to meet great companies willing to have the conversations that ultimately led to our success at the Port. 

To find out more about Apex Electrical, visit the AEG Website. 

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