How one entrepreneur’s involvement in Prudential’s PruBono program created a business that pays it forward.
Running a successful startup business is no easy feat. For Shanteau McFadden, CEO of Final Touch Construction in Newark, New Jersey, the pathway to success was far from linear, but she eventually found her true calling with a little help from Prudential’s PruBono program.
PruBono connects teams of Prudential employees who lend their skills and expertise to nonprofit organizations and small businesses to address some of the challenges they face. Through continuous hands-on learning and training, networking with female entrepreneurs, and a desire to pay it forward, McFadden was able to build a foundation for what would become her labor of love. In fact, her journey echoes the construction process itself.
STEP 1: LAY THE FOUNDATION
McFadden’s path into construction was no coincidence, as she grew up with family members in the industry. Before creating her own business, however, she met a few obstacles. McFadden went straight from high school to a corporate role out of necessity. “I was working in jobs that paid me a good salary that eventually I would have used to pay for college,” she remarks. “But I was single with no kids and it was hard to get assistance to pay for school.” McFadden began as a financial sales consultant at a financial services company and worked her way up to becoming a partner, but after two years she was let go.
Eventually she landed a job with the State of New Jersey’s disaster relief programs, where she oversaw billing and paying out contractors. Working in the relief programs was a stepping-stone to her construction career, as she grew familiar with the process of rehabilitating and reconstructing homes impacted by disasters. It was at this point when McFadden realized working in construction was truly in her blood.
STEP 2: FRAMING
In 2016 McFadden shifted gears, working as an office manager for several of Newark’s charter schools. “My goal was to be the change I want to see in the community, so I felt if I worked in a charter school and touched the life of at least one child, that would be amazing.”
But four years later, the pandemic led her to reevaluate. Drawing strength from her growing network of like-minded female entrepreneurs, she was inspired to take a leap of faith, and on Nov. 4, 2020, Final Touch Construction was born.
STEP 3: THE INTERIOR
Determined to learn more, McFadden participated in Rising Tide Capital Community Business Academy, which specializes in business planning and management and is partnered with Prudential. Another nonprofit partner of the company is the Taproot Foundation, which connects entrepreneurs with Prudential employees who help small businesses succeed. In fact, it was through Taproot’s social media that McFadden learned about the PruBono program. And after an application and interview process in September 2021, McFadden was quickly approved. She was soon assigned a team of seven Prudential employees dedicated to teaching her how to manage her company’s finances.
“The PruBono team highlighted my skills, created my business plan and showed me how I could move forward after the program. The team also taught me how to structure things like QuickBooks, capturing estimates in my balance sheet and making sure I am receiving revenue from the business,” she recalls. McFadden also gained operational knowledge such as how to choose the right jobs to contract and how to identify her target audience, which helped her discover her niche.
Reuben Teague, executive director and head of Real Assets in the Sustainable Investments team at PGIM Real Estate, was one of the Prudential employees who worked with McFadden. “Shanteau invited us in to share her dream of financial independence, which was inspiring,” he recalls. “She made a decision to build a business for herself in a challenging industry, and we wanted to help her make her dreams a reality.”
With her knowledge gained through PruBono, McFadden began expanding her business from residential to commercial renovations, and credits the help of other women. “When you’re expanding into government contracting, you can’t be a one-woman show. You have to collaborate and partner with other people, so I try to partner with other women in the industry.”
STEP 4: THE FINAL TOUCHES
Inspired by her struggles to hire contractors, McFadden used her experience in construction and PruBono and parlayed it into a way to pay it forward. “I started a nonprofit called FTC Management to train people in construction so they know how to work the proper way and that they’re appropriately compensated for the work they do.”
Today McFadden has helped more than 40 young students and new homeowners by providing basic contracting skills and making connections with unions. In her free eight-week program, students learn how to use hand and power tools, calculate measurements, perform rough carpentry, install flooring and, most importantly, practice safety.
Here’s how McFadden summarizes her state of mind before and after PruBono: “I see a picture of somebody in an office with papers flying everywhere and the person is like, ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t know what’s going on.’ After PruBono, I see myself sitting on a beach sipping a mai tai. I went from a storm to calmness.”