Founder, President & CEO Jales de Mello shifts company focus, manufactures specialty application vehicles for medical and educational purposes; now exports to 18 countries and provides jobs for 28 employees.
The U.S. Small Business Administration, Santa Ana District Office is pleased to announce Aleph Group, Inc. (AGI) will receive the 2015 Region IX Small Business Exporter of the Year Award. AGI was nominated for the award by Inland Empire SBDC Consultant Karla Gutierrez, who has known company owner Jales “Charlie” Mello for over ten years and worked with him to obtain several government contracting certifications. AGI competed for the 2015 Exporter of the Year award against a handful of local finalists before moving on to compete against 5 other SBA districts in the State of California, securing that award, and then competing at the Region IX level against candidates from the states of Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada and Guam.
DeMello founded American Custom Coach in the city of Ontario in 2001. In its early days the company was a one-man operation, catering the needs of local hotels and municipalities by restoring and upgrading transit buses and shuttle vans. Within two years, the company outgrew its location and relocated to a 9,000 sq. ft. facility in Redlands and hired an additional five employees, and began catering to the needs of local law enforcement agencies and small to medium size non-profit organizations.
In 2005, some overseas prospects turned into serious contractual negotiations as a result of marketing strategies supported by the US Commercial News advertisement and other programs made available by the US Department of Commerce. The company’s first international sale in 2005 was to a client in Doha, Qatar for a 40 ft. long customized Bloodmobile. That same year, Mello was able to secure two additional international sales for a total of nearly $1 million. By 2008, the company’s continued growth warranted another expansion, this time to a larger, 19,000 sq. ft. accompanied by an increase in employee base to eleven full-time and three part-time employees. The business became fully integrated into the fabrication of mobile medical and specialty vehicles.
AGI has also developed new products and designs in order to serve the needs of clients, including a mobile X-ray in trailer configuration, sleeping quarters and medical facilities in shipping containers, portable hospitals and clinics and training classroom units.
The company changed names from American Custom Coach to Aleph Group, Inc. in 2012 in recognition of the company’s continued growth, stronger presence in international markets, and product diversification. That same year the company relocated to a 50,000 sq. ft. building in Riverside and expanded its employee base to twenty three full-time professionals. To date, the company has completed export sales in countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Dubai, Doha, Nigeria, Angola, Israel, Chile, Mexico, Peru and the Philippines. International sales represent 60% of AGI’s total sales and the division is managed directly by Mr. Mello, with the assistance of one full time project manager.
De Mello is an active member of the California Inland Empire District Export Council (CIEDEC) since 2012 and with a number of charitable activities. In 2014, AGI sponsored a fundraising event at its factory in Riverside, in which all proceeds were donated to Family Service Association of Redlands (FSAR). The company created an initiative called ‘Feeding Angels’, which is a program focused on eliminating child hunger in the United States. Proceeds supporting ‘Feeding Angels’ are received from each mobile medical vehicle sold by AGI. Each vehicle sold secures full-year (three meals a day) nutrition for one child in the United States. Additionally, Mello volunteers every Monday at a homeless shelter in Riverside teaching the practice of meditation.
Every year since 1963, the president has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of National Small Business Week. Small business owners, entrepreneurs, and community leaders are recognized by SBA district offices at events across the nation during this week. SBA’s Santa Ana District Office, which is responsible for the delivery of SBA programs in the Southern California counties of Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino,