Inside Cherokee-Owned Chloeta, a Multi-Million Dollar Emergency Management Staffing Company

Chloeta [shuh-lay-tuh] is a Cherokee entrepreneur-owned emergency management staffing company that helps businesses and the U.S. government deal with natural and human-caused disasters. (Chloeta)

While 2020 may be shaping up as a year of overlapping disasters — COVID-19, with hurricanes threatening the east coast, and wildfires setting vast swaths of the west coast aflame — at least one Native American-owned business is protecting the people and the land.

“If you flip on CNN and you see something bad happening, chances are if we’re not there assisting firsthand then we’ve had some role in training some of those people who are responding to that incident,” said Mark Masters, a Cherokee Nation citizen who founded Chloeta [shuh-lay-tuh]. 

Both public and private sector clients turn to Chloeta, a Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a), HUBZone and Cherokee Nation TERO certified firm, for service in the areas of emergency management, environmental consulting, security, aviation and wildland fire management. The business counts locations in California, Washington, Idaho, Oklahoma and Florida.

Masters, a direct descendent of Principal Chief Richard Fields, left his eight-year career as a federal wildland fire and all-hazards incident responder in 2009 to start Chloeta at age 26. Simply put, he was starting a family and no longer up for jumping out of helicopters for a living. 

He didn’t have assets, so he launched as a one-man operation in a dirt-floor barn. Determined, he met with the Small Business Assistance Center at the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, where he got help to rewrite his business plan. 

Today the temporary staffing agency for the United States government is a multi-million dollar business. Chloeta brought in $6 million in revenue in 2018, reflecting an astounding 734 percent growth rate over three years. The Midwest City, Oklahoma-based Chloeta surpassed the average growth of 454 percent for the 2019 Inc. 5000 list, a ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies.The median rate of all 5,000 companies is 157 percent.

In addition to being named twice to the Inc. 5000, the company was named to the Entrepreneur 360 list by Entrepreneur Magazine for the top 360 businesses to watch in 2018.

Beyond running a business, Masters is a public speaker and media commentator, having served as a joint keynote speaker with Congressman Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), in addition to being a live interviewee on CNN Newsroom, CNN Money and The Weather Channel. Additional honors bestowed upon Masters include the National Young Entrepreneur of the Year award by the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2012, by the National American Indian Center for Enterprise Development (NCAIED) “40 Under 40” award, and he has also served as a panelist on President Obama’s Subcommittee on Small Business Young Entrepreneurship Series (YES) livestreamed on WhiteHouse.gov.

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