Jose L. Rodriguez, President & CEO, M.E.R.I.T., Inc. After Jose “Joe” Rodriguez retired from his job as a Newark police detective and captain from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, he became director of security for a private company. Then he decided he could just do the job himself, and started M.E.R.I.T., Investigative Services, Inc. to provide security services to his clients. The turning point came when he shifted his business model to focus on construction to take advantage of federal contract opportunities as a licensed construction contractor. But it wasn’t until Joe qualified for service-disabled veteran status in 2006 that things began to take shape. The combination of SBA’s 8(a) certification and the service-disabled veteran status propelled his company to a higher level. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Joe and his company won five contracts for more than $2 million from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the General Services Administration. Today, M.E.R.I.T., Inc. has grown to 40 employees with annual sales in excess of $5 million. The company provides its customers with construction management, design build capabilities, project management, facility management, post construction, access control systems, CCTV design and installation, scheduling and quality control, project staffing and Occupational Safety and Health Administration construction safety training.