Dolly Randle: passionate about diversity and opportunity, from incubators to classrooms

Diversity goals on government-funded projects help ensure that business owners of all backgrounds have an opportunity to compete for valuable contracts. Buffalo-based Compliance and Administrative Services of New York (CASNY) helps inform individuals and small business owners about federal, state, and city contracting opportunities.

President and owner Dolly Michelle Randle started CASNY a decade ago after she saw potential to turn her administrative and construction compliance management skills into a lucrative service for others.

“I always knew I would be a business owner—it was something I felt,” Randle says.

After securing a DBA in 2009, she utilized resources such as the Women's Business Center at Canisius College, the Small Business Development Center at Buffalo State College, Small Business Association SCORE, and a personal business mentor

“I started my business with no money or loans, however I had a plan and utilized free resources,” she adds. “After my business plan was complete I gave 60-days notice at my full-time job. In 2010, I received my first contracting opportunity in the construction field. That was the beginning of CASNY.”

CASNY specializes in compliance monitoring and diversity goals on construction projects. According to a recent article by Gregg Bishop, commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services, “Supplier diversity is about enriching the vendor pool that provides critical goods and services to nonprofits, private companies and government offices,” he writes. “The more diverse these pools, the stronger supply chains and minority business communities can become.”

Randle agrees the impact of compliance monitoring and diversifying project supply chains is enormous.

“Part of the impact is that there’s more participation from minority- and women-owned businesses and more participation of minority and female workers on a project, who in the past did not have as much opportunity,” she says.

CASNY is a New York State Certified Minority Woman Business Enterprise (MWBE) and New York City Certified MWBE. In addition to helping companies comply with MWBE contract goals and requirements, Randle’s company also offers various diversity trainings.

Corporate level training offers a curriculum to employees focused on accepting differences of ethnicity groups, genders, age, and religion in a workplace with a diverse culture. MWBE Certification Training breaks down the process of becoming certified and contracting with New York State and other agencies.

CASNY also partners with schools in the community, offering students opportunities to learn about the business world through its Tweenz Entrepreneur Mentoring Program. The program launched in 2018 in the Niagara Falls School District.

“Tweenz was created for 7th and 8th grade students, teaching them how to become entrepreneurs,” Randle says. “The program goes into the schools and trains kids in business, diversity and life skills. Another of our student programs is the Construction and Business Mentoring Program. This is designed for high school students who may not go to college—but who may want to join a skilled trade or start their own business.”

Randle also runs small business networking events in the community, like CASNY’s Business Survival Series. The events generally feature a speaker on helpful business topics like banking, insurance, accounting, bookkeeping and employee benefits.

In addition to working with middle and high school students, Randle also mentors adults at the TReC Entrepreneur Center in Niagara Falls, serving as one of the co-working space’s “sherpas.”

“At TReC, I provide free one-on-one business mentoring, assistance with business plans and contracting opportunities, plus basic start-up information and skills to help make peoples’ business idea a reality,” she adds.

Randle also operates a CASNY satellite office at the Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center in Buffalo, mentoring people with start-up assistance, funding referrals and contracting opportunities. And she hosts other community networking and training events.

While running her business and all her other programs and activities, Randle keeps her cool day-to-day with a calming mantra.

“I always multitasked within my jobs,” Randle says. “I was always the problem-solver;  the person to bring a project or assignment together while everyone is in a frenzy.

“I would say ‘relax, we got it!’ When you have qualified and experienced individuals on your team, there’s no need to worry. The project or assignment will meet the deadline.”

Randle’s passion for assisting those who want to start a business and understand contracting opportunities is steering CASNY forward, as is sharing what she’s learned with students.

“I am dedicated to bringing awareness to minorities in our communities by networking, mentoring and educating about funding and development opportunities,” she says. “CASNY is also dedicated to assisting youths become entrepreneurs—and the vessels of their futures.”

Read more articles by Steven Jagord.

After studying journalism at Buffalo State College, Amherst resident Steven Jagord spent four years as editor of a community newspaper covering the Buffalo suburb of Clarence, N.Y. He currently is the program manager for the Pride Center of Western New York, a nonprofit that serves the local LGBTQ community. He and his husband, Patrick, have a yellow Lab named Dexter.

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