Shelley Powell, Owner of Covenant Cleaning Services

Covenant Cleaning Services: Shining and Growing

Company Benefits from Consulting, Training and Business Recovery Team Assistance Provided by FSBDC at UCF

April 6, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or HThayer@ucf.edu

Sharon Smith, Consultants, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or Sharon.Smith2@ucf.edu

Orlando – Maintaining a growth path can present challenges for a small business in any economy, but even more so during a pandemic. Fortunately, there are resources and support available to help business owners navigate potential obstacles and capitalize on possible opportunities. Over several years, and especially during 2020, Shelley Powell, the founder and President of Covenant Cleaning Services, called upon the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for its no-cost consulting services, business training, and market research support. And it has paid off handsomely for her and her company.

Covenant Cleaning Services – “Where Service is our Pledge” – has been providing honest and dependable residential and commercial cleaning services in the Orlando area since 1999. As its name implies, Powell believes her company makes a promise to her clients: to provide high quality people; top end equipment and supplies; and exceptional service. “We pride ourselves in our clients’ satisfaction,” she says. “Taking care of them and any issue that might arise is where we shine.”

Early on in her venture, Powell quickly recognized that caring for customers is one thing, but running a business is all together another. She notes, “when I first started my company, I realized there was so much more about business that I didn’t know, even though I had a background in bookkeeping and accounting. That’s when I turned to the Florida SBDC at UCF.”

“I have utilized a lot of what the FSBDC has to offer,” Powell recalls. “From initially taking classes, to receiving assistance writing a business plan and then getting help with filing for an SBA loan to purchase the property my business is in, I have gained a tremendous amount through the SBDC. For instance, for my loan, my FSBDC consultant Pauline Davis took my financial data and turned it into something of value that helped me get my loan.”

In addition to benefiting from the FSBDC’s consulting, training, and market research support, Powell has been participating in its Business Recovery Team (BRT) service. Intended to assist with revival after the unexpected disruptions of COVID-19 and to build sustainability thereafter, the program is designed to help companies develop and implement customized business strategies, realign their business models and adapt to a new environment. In the case of Covenant Cleaning Services, a team of six (6) SBDC consultants led by consultant Sharon Smith collaborated with Powell to build a new, 3-year strategic business plan, create a business resiliency plan, conduct new market research, produce a new marketing plan, and develop a 2021 financial forecast and budget.

“Since I began working with the FSBDC, I have had amazing, positive changes in my business,” Powell says today. “Everything from an increase in sales – as high as 45% in one year, to going from 23 employees to 38 today, as well as rebalancing our client base to 60% commercial/40% residential, and at the same time increasing our profitability.” All of those wonderful things have happened as a result of Covenant Cleaning Services working with the FSBDC.”

“If I had to use one word to describe the FSBDC, it would be “success”, concludes Powell. “Because that’s what the FSBDC has brought me: success.”

For more information about Covenant Cleaning Services, please visit https://www.covenantcleaningorlando.com/.

— FSBDC —

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of the UCF Office of Partnership & Innovation and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2020, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,800 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,000 jobs created, retained or saved; $1.2 billion in sales growth; $92.4 million in capital formation; $92.7 million in government contract awards; and 86 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com.

About the Florida SBDC Network

For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2019, Florida SBDCs provided 114,064 of professional business consulting to over 12,500 client businesses, resulting in almost 38,000 jobs impacted; $4.4 billion in sales generated; $496.5 million in government contracts acquired; and $255.3 million in capital accessed.

A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a 2016 recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com

 

 

Small Business Institute, SBI

Small Business Institute® National Honors Won by UCF Students in Florida SBDC at UCF Program

Student Team Assists Local Small Business with Award Winning Consulting

April 5, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or hthayer@ucf.edu

Orlando, FL –    The Small Business Institute® (SBI®), the premier provider of professional development for those engaged in experiential student team consulting and related entrepreneurship education, research and activities and the link between business, education and community, recently announced that a student team from the University of Central Florida’s College of Business Administration (UCF CBA) was a winner in its annual Experiential Learning Project of the Year (POY) competition, taking 2nd place in the 2020-21 ‘Graduate Specialized’ category.

In competition with MBA teams from across the country, the UCF CBA team of students Jamie Mead, Connor Pitchford and Carlos Vega won 2nd place in the ‘Graduate Specialized’ category on the strength of their consulting project for Evan James & Associates, an Orlando-based commercial real estate brokerage firm. The student consulting team prepared a detailed marketing plan including a competitive analysis, industry analysis, market analysis, and recommendations to introduce the firm’s newest product line of prefabricated modular steel structures to target markets (including B-to-B, B-to-C, and B-to-G segments). The team worked with faculty advisor Dr. Carl Blencke, an instructor for the UCF CBA’s Department of Management, as part of a management class.

“It gives me great pleasure to congratulate our students on winning this prestigious award,” said Ron Piccolo, PhD. and Galloway Professor and Chair of the Department of Management. “Utilizing the SBI® program as part of our course offering is an important educational partnership between UCF and the FSBDC which contributes to the quality of the student educational experience at the University of Central Florida.”

“This award is well earned recognition for the quality work produced for our FSBDC client by these impressive students,” commented Eunice Choi, Regional Director for the FSBDC at UCF. “The FSBDC at UCF and UCF partnership supporting the SBI® is indicative of our shared commitment to the small businesses in Central Florida while also offering experiential learning opportunities to UCF students. It demonstrates UCF’s commitment to our community and to growing the local economy, and the FSBDC’s contribution to furthering UCF’s educational mission.”

Jeremy Sisson, the Chief Executive Officer of Evan James & Associates said, “Our team really enjoyed working with the MBA students on this project for our firm.  The students were very professional and the comprehensive national marketing plan they created for our American Steel Collection product line was timely and well thought out.  We immediately deployed their recommendations and will have a record-breaking year, as a result.  We highly recommend other small business executives work with their local SBDC offices and universities to further their business growth.”

The Florida SBDC at UCF (FSBDC) sponsors the Small Business Institute® in Central Florida and, in conjunction with the Department of Management at the UCF College of Business Administration, manages the SBI® program locally. It recruits and evaluates FSBDC clients for the program, lends FSBDC consultants as SBI® case supervisors and provides a range of guidance and support. The FSBDC is part of the UCF Office of Partnership and Innovation.

At the UCF College of Business Administration, SBI® is a graduate‐level elective course. Students enrolled in the class provide management consulting services to local small businesses. Each student team has direct contact with the client and produces a professional case report. The report is the ultimate product of the program and is tailored to each business. Case study reports have included market research, marketing plans, competitive analysis, advertising strategy, customer surveys, strategic plans, financial analysis, human resource manuals, and business plans.

The SBI® Program is offered as a full-semester credit course through the CBA’s Department of Management. During the semester, the student teams oversaw and implemented extensive research and analysis to determine industry best practices; met regularly to understand company processes and procedures; and performed wide-ranging analysis of business and industry strategies and performance. As a result of their efforts, the students were able to provide a comprehensive analysis and set of recommendations.

SBI® is a nation‐wide program that provides high‐quality business assistance to companies in need while providing an extraordinary opportunity for university students to learn through field case studies. Each project is led and conducted by a group of students under the supervision of an SBI® Director or faculty member. The experience is often cited by students as being one of the most rewarding of their academic careers. In today’s collegiate environment there is a strong emphasis on experiential learning, and the SBI® has been at the forefront of this movement for over thirty years.

— FSBDC —

About the FSBDC at UCF

With its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of the UCF Office of Partnership and Innovation and the Florida SBDC Network. The FSBDC at UCF provides business seminars and no-cost, one-on-one business consultation to emerging and established businesses. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 10 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2020, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,800 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,000 jobs created, retained or saved; $1.2 billion in sales growth; $92.4 million in capital formation; $92.7 million in government contract awards; and 86 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com.

About the Florida SBDC Network

For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2019, Florida SBDCs provided 114,064 of professional business consulting to over 12,500 client businesses, resulting in almost 38,000 jobs impacted; $4.4 billion in sales generated; $496.5 million in government contracts acquired; and $255.3 million in capital accessed.

A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a 2016 recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com

 

Qwalifize Staffing & Consulting

Qwalifize Staffing & Consulting Winning at Government Contracting and More

Workforce Solutions Company Benefits from Florida PTAC at UCF And Florida SBDC at UCF Assistance

March 29, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or HThayer@ucf.edu

Kara Vernon, PTAC Specialist, PTAC at UCF, 407.420.4890 or Kara.Vernon@ucf.edu 

Orlando, FL – Turning a vision into a growing business able to win a multi-million-dollar government contract may sound like a daunting impossibility, but it is not. Lizbeth Walker, CEO and owner of Qwalifize, LLC has proven it and credits the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at the University of Central Florida (Florida PTAC at UCF) with assisting her in making the impossible possible.

Doing business as Qwalifize Staffing and Consulting, the firm connects high-caliber companies with exceptional professionals. The business focuses on technology, human resources, and administrative roles that help shape organizations. With more than 20 years of extensive experience in recruitment, operations, and human resources, Qwalifize serves a client portfolio of Fortune 500 company employers in the Health Tech, Microelectronics, Aerospace, Defense, and Attractions industries. It can now add providing staffing solutions to government institutions and creating strategic partnerships to its “company resume” as well.

“Our mission is to prepare, attract and place professionals into jobs that are meaningful to them while problem solving the workforce issues challenging our employer clients,” says Walker. “What’s important is that we have integrity, transparency and reliability and we’re here for our clients, no matter what the problem.”

When she started her business, Walker had a vision and a plan in mind to achieve it. “I knew where my vision and plan could take me but I needed real world guidance about how to get there,” Walker continued. “That’s why I sought assistance from the Florida Small Business Development Center at UCF (FSBDC at UCF) and later from its affiliate, the Florida PTAC at UCF.”

“The FSBDC helped me create a stellar business plan and to think like a business owner, not just an employee. They set me up for success,” recalls Walker. “There’s so much I learned, especially about financial management, targeting clients, expressing what we do and our value proposition. They taught me what it takes to run a business.”

“And Kara Vernon, our PTAC Specialist, has been instrumental in providing me with focus areas, tools and templates that brought my government marketing strategy to life. And that helped us win a huge, 5-year transportation contract. I know without her help and all of her attention, that contract might not have been a possibility for us,” Walker added.

“We have achieved so many positive results with the FSBDC and PTAC. When Covid hit, we saw our commercial business slow down, so I opened my mind to government contracting. I relied on Kara and PTAC and, on our very first response to an RFP, we were able to win that 5-year, multi-million-dollar government contract with a major transportation agency here in Florida. It has been a game changer for us,” says Walker.

“If I had to use one word to describe the FSBDC and PTAC, it would be ‘winning’” concluded Walker. “Whenever I work with them, I know their goal is to set up Qwalifize Staffing & Consulting for success and for us to win.

To learn more about Qwalifize Staffing & Consulting, please visit qwalifize.com.

— FSBDC —

About the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) at UCF

Government Contracting Services offered by the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) at the University of Central Florida provide high-value, confidential one-on-one consulting at no cost to help Florida businesses prepare, research, and bid on federal, state, and local government contracts. Since 1986, Florida PTAC client businesses statewide have won $9 billion in contract awards, helping to create and save almost 200,350 jobs. This PTAC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the Defense Logistics Agency. For more information, please visit www.fptac.org.

 

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of the UCF Office of Partnership & Innovation and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 10 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2020, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,800 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,000 jobs created, retained or saved; $1.2 billion in sales growth; $92.4 million in capital formation; $92.7 million in government contract awards; and 86 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com.

About the Florida SBDC Network

For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2019, Florida SBDCs provided 114,064 of professional business consulting to over 12,500 client businesses, resulting in almost 38,000 jobs impacted; $4.4 billion in sales generated; $496.5 million in government contracts acquired; and $255.3 million in capital accessed.

A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a 2016 recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com

Knight Federal Solutions Logo

Knight Federal Solutions: Armored in Excellence. Driven by Results.

Fast Growing, Mission Driven Solutions Provider Benefits from FSBDC at UCF’s Advisory Board Council Program

March 23, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:   Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or hthayer@ucf.edu

                   Jill Kaufman, Assistant Director/ABC Program Manager, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4854 or  Jill.Kaufman@ucf.edu  

   

Knight Federal Solutions

Orlando – External expertise and alternative perspectives are invaluable resources when you are growing a small business, but they are not always readily available or easy to find. Chris Baeten, CEO and owner of Knight Federal Solutions – and an Orlando Business Journal 2019 CEO of the Year – had the wisdom and foresight to go looking for them, and he found them in the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida’s (FSBDC at UCF) Advisory Board Council Program (ABC).

Knight Federal Solutions leverages its core competencies – simulation & training, cybersecurity, and intelligence analysis – as a trusted provider to industry leading prime contractors and Department of Defense and Intelligence Community customers, having established strong standards and practices to ensure execution and mission delivery. Their motto says it all: “Armored in Excellence. Driven by Results.”

“We take that commitment very seriously,” says Baeten. “If we have not done so already, we aim to hire the highest level of subject matter expertise in our core competencies. Most importantly, we are driven by our results, and delivering for our customers.”

Baeten’s pursuit of excellence was a motivator in approaching the FSBDC and ultimately participating in the Advisory Board Council Program. FSBDC’s Advisory Board Council provides no-cost, customized boards of volunteer experts selected to address the specific needs of the FSBDC client by providing advice and counsel to help the business grow.  “I didn’t have a strong enough accountability mechanism,” recalls Baeten, “so, I turned to Jill Kaufman, the FSBDC’s ABC program director, and decided an advisory board would be beneficial for my organization.”

“The Advisory Board that the FSBDC provided me had six individuals who had very different backgrounds across multiple specialties, including expertise in marketing, finance, and the law. I also had people from my industry who had experience helping small businesses grow. They were able to provide support in areas we weren’t focused on.”

Working with this team of volunteer advisors, Knight Federal strengthened its capital position and worked to bring its back office in line to be compliant for DoD contracts. They addressed legal issues that a small business might not ordinarily consider. Additionally, according to Baeten, “Most importantly, we were able to put together a marketing and public relations plan that gained us exposure locally and nationwide that has really paid dividends for us. We have been recognized with numerous awards, including being named to the Inc. 5000 (ranked #261 in Florida) and as one of Central Florida’s Top 25 Modeling, Simulation & Training Companies by the Orlando Business Journal – both for two consecutive years.

“With the plans we put in place, including the marketing, business development and building our pipeline, since we first started with the FSBDC, we’ve grown our business by almost 56% over the past three years,” remarked Baeten. “I think if anyone is given the opportunity to work with the FSBDC and have an Advisory Board Council, they should look at it as a blessing and a privilege. I didn’t quite understand until I got in the middle of it just how beneficial it could be.”

For more information about Knight Federal Solutions, please visit https://knightfederal.com/

— FSBDC —

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of the UCF Office of Partnership & Innovation and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2019, the FSBDC at UCF served almost 2,500 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,000 jobs created, retained or saved; $1.2 billion in sales growth; $62.3 million in capital formation; $213.2 million in government contract awards; and 125 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com.

About the Florida SBDC Network

For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2019, Florida SBDCs provided 114,064 of professional business consulting to over 12,500 client businesses, resulting in almost 38,000 jobs impacted; $4.4 billion in sales generated; $496.5 million in government contracts acquired; and $255.3 million in capital accessed.

A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a 2016 recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com

 

Genesis Water Technologies

Genesis Water Technologies Global Expansion Continues

Water Treatment Solutions Company Seeing International Growth Supported by Florida SBDC at UCF and its Partners

February 9, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or hthayer@ucf.edu

Jill McLaughlin, International Trade Program manager, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4856 or Jill.McLaughlin@ucf.edu      

Nerine Elatter, International Trade Specialist, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4425 or Nerine.Elatter@ucf.edu

Orlando – International expansion can be a tall order for a small-to-medium sized enterprise. Understanding the basics of world trade; assessing your company’s readiness for exporting; conducting market research to identify market opportunities; and producing a viable and effective action plan for implementation are just a few of the crucial steps that are necessary to be successful.

Nick Nicholas, Technical Director and owner of Genesis Water Technologies, Inc. (GWT), recognized that his company would require additional resources and expertise to expand his business into new global markets. For that reason, he turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its International Trade Services.

Genesis Water Technologies is an award-winning leader in specialized drinking water & wastewater treatment and reuse solutions, targeting various industries and water utilities across the world. Nearly 15 years ago, GWT began to tackle the issues of water scarcity and inadequate water treatment with innovative and sustainable water & wastewater treatment solutions and services tailored to serving communities and industrial clients.

Members of the FSBDC’s International Trade Services Team, including program manager Jill McLaughlin and international trade specialist Nerine Elattar, delivered Nicholas with one-on-one consulting services and other assistance including the development of a customized Export Marketing Plan for GWT.  Provided in partnership with Enterprise Florida and the U.S. Commercial Service, the Export Marketing Plan (EMP) focused on overseas growth strategies and supplied a roadmap for the company’s international expansion, including accessing trade mission services from the U.S. Export Assistance Center and trade promotion support from the State of Florida.

Beginning in 2013, GWT began implementing this comprehensive and action-oriented Export Marketing Plan. The company soon achieved its desired results, so much so that Nicholas asked for and received updated customized market research in 2019. “Since starting with the FSBDC we have been able to see some definite growth,” says Nick Nicholas. “The creation of a solid Export Marketing Plan enabled us to expand from the few countries that we had worked with before the FSBDC to today when we are able to sell our products, services and systems in over 43 different countries.” In fact, on the strength of this success, Nick Nicholas was recognized as the Small Business Administration’s national 2020 Exporter of the Year.

In addition to the FSBDC’s International Trade Services and the EMP, Nicholas and GWT have and continue to take advantage of other FSBDC programs and affiliates. Beginning in 2012, the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at UCF provided the company with various federal agency contacts and bid opportunities, resulting in contracts with the Navy and Air Force. In 2019, GWT began benefitting from the FSBDC’s Advisory Board Council program, which provides a custom-fit advisory board comprised of volunteer independent business professionals to help accelerate GWT’s business growth.

“The FSBDC is a resource that is capable of serving businesses by supporting both export marketing as well as providing other services,“ Nicholas concluded. “The staff is excellent and the resources you can obtain for a reasonable or no cost are the best in our book.”

For more information about Genesis Water Technologies, please visit https://genesiswatertech.com/

— FSBDC —

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of the UCF Office of Partnership & Innovation and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2019, the FSBDC at UCF served almost 2,500 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,000 jobs created, retained or saved; $1.2 billion in sales growth; $62.3 million in capital formation; $213.2 million in government contract awards; and 125 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com.

About the Florida SBDC Network

For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2019, Florida SBDCs provided 114,064 of professional business consulting to over 12,500 client businesses, resulting in almost 38,000 jobs impacted; $4.4 billion in sales generated; $496.5 million in government contracts acquired; and $255.3 million in capital accessed.

A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a 2016 recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com

Memorable Times Logo

MemorableTimes LLC Poised to Create Memories Again in 2021

Travel Services Company Positioned for Post-COVID-19 Growth with Support from FSBDC at UCF – Kissimmee/Osceola County

January 26, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or hthayer@ucf.edu

Rafael E. M. Pratts, Area Manager, FSBDC at UCF – Kissimmee-Osceola County, 407.847.2458 or RPratts@ucf.edu

Orlando – Making the transition from a corporate career to entrepreneurship and small business ownership is a significant life change, and one that is made even more complex if this shift includes a move to a new and unfamiliar community. But that is the challenge that Shari Vick took on in 2016 when she came to Central Florida and opened her travel service company, MemorableTimes LLC. Wisely, she soon turned to the Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its Kissimmee/Osceola County satellite Office for assistance.

As the name suggests, MemorableTimes LLC is in the business of helping sophisticated travelers choose, plan, and book memorable travel experiences. Shari Vick creates individually conceived and specially customized travel adventures for discerning clients. These can include river cruises, solo and group trips, romance travel, bike tours, and wine country sojourns among many other possible journeys to exciting destinations.

When Vick first started her business, she had a clear vision of the top-end, best-in-class travel experiences she sought to create for upscale, travel-savvy clients. These were never going to be those “everyday travel packages you can pull off the internet,” she says. But to achieve her goal, she realized that she would need additional help and so she connected with the FSBDC at UCF.

“Working with my consultant, Rafael Pratts, has made all the difference for me,” Vick states today. “He has guided me, supported me, held my hand, and introduced me to the different services and systems that the FSBDC has to offer. I benefited from their no-cost, one-on-one consulting; business seminars on budgeting, marketing, banking; and did an evaluation of my website that made me more competitive with my local and national competitors.”

“My experience with the FSBDC has been wonderful,” continued Vick. “It has been very helpful, especially because I was new to the area, with introducing me to the small business community. It has helped me develop professionally and to make better decisions. I now know my numbers, can make projections, and track my results. I am a better communicator with clients and vendors, which has helped save bookings and turn COVID-19-related cancellations into travel postponements.”

“With the help of the FSBDC, I have learned a great deal about being an entrepreneur and a successful business owner,” Vick went on. “And I have seen significant growth in my business since I started with Rafael and the FSBDC because I have learned how to manage my business better. In 2019, I saw an increase of more than 20% in my revenues. And I was on track for a better year in 2020 until COVID-19 struck. Even then, because of what I’ve learned, I was able to figure out how to survive.”

“If a business owner or an entrepreneur came to me to ask about working with the FSBDC, I’d say ‘Do it.’ Take advantage of all they have to offer. The services are available without any fees. Why wouldn’t you do it?” Vick concluded. “It has been great for me. I see no reason not to get on board with them. There’s no downside, only upside.”

For more information about MemorableTimes LLC, please visit https://www.memorabletimesllc.com/ .

— FSBDC —

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of the UCF Office of Partnership & Innovation and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2019, the FSBDC at UCF served almost 2,500 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,000 jobs created, retained or saved; $1.2 billion in sales growth; $62.3 million in capital formation; $213.2 million in government contract awards; and 125 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com.

About the Florida SBDC Network

For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2019, Florida SBDCs provided 114,064 of professional business consulting to over 12,500 client businesses, resulting in almost 38,000 jobs impacted; $4.4 billion in sales generated; $496.5 million in government contracts acquired; and $255.3 million in capital accessed.

A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a 2016 recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com

Jed Grennan, Managing Partner, Grennan Fender Hess & Poparad

FSBDC at UCF Names Jed Grennan Regional Volunteer of the Year

Jed Grennan, Managing Partner,  Grennan Fender Hess & Poparad, LLP Named FSBDC at UCF Regional Volunteer of the Year

January 8, 2021

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or hthayer@ucf.edu

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Orlando – The Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) has named Jed Grennan, Managing Partner of Grennan Fender Hess & Poparad, LLP, as its 2020 Regional Volunteer of the Year. Grennan earned this important recognition on the strength of his long and committed service as a volunteer advisor in the FSBDC’s award-winning Advisory Board Council (ABC) program.

Grennan Fender Hess & Poparad, LLP has been a leading Orlando CPA and business financial solutions firm for more than 40 years. The firm provides a wide array of innovative services for clients, including tax, audit, consulting, outsourced accounting, cloud accounting and tax planning to meet both individual and business needs.

The Advisory Board Council (ABC) is a next-level, business support service, assisting established Central Florida businesses by matching them with experienced professionals with a diverse range of skills who work together on a carefully selected, “custom-fit” advisory board. The program provides dynamic talent and expertise specially selected to address the needs of the client company to help it solve problems and create opportunities, all at no-cost. All ABC Advisors are volunteers who are interested in building relationships and improving the economic community in Central Florida.  The operation of the program is funded in part by Orange County and supported by the generosity of our sponsors.

“Jed Grennan has distinguished himself by his significant contribution to the FSBDC at UCF’s award-winning Advisory Board Council program,’ remarked Eunice Choi, Regional Director of the FSBDC at UCF. “As a dedicated volunteer advisor since the program’s inception in 2003, he has donated almost 100 hours of pro-bono consulting services to small business owners across the Central Florida region, totaling more than $27,000 in reported market value. For that and more, we are deeply grateful.”

Grennan brings significant business growth consulting, tax, and audit experience and has applied this expertise with the seven ABC clients he has served. These clients cover a wide spectrum of industries including a manufacturer of floating turbidity barriers and oil containment systems; a creative media, live production, and digital marketing solutions provider; a landscape and civil engineering group; a software development group; aluminum construction firm; and a computer repair service provider.

One of the seven boards on which Grennan has served includes a saltwater aquarium products retailer, World Wide Corals (WWC). When asked to reflect on his time working with Grennan, Ryan Clay, President of WWC, shared, “I was fortunate enough to meet Jed Grennan during the Advisory Board Council for World Wide Corals. Jed took an interest in our company and provided many helpful strategies and tips during the program, providing a constant source of encouragement.  His advice made a significant impact on our young company and laid the groundwork for our success. After the program was completed, we were so impressed with his knowledge we hired his firm to provide accounting services, a relationship that continues through today.  Since that time and with his continued help, we have been able to grow to $8M in yearly sales with over 50 employees. Jed deserves recognition for his devotion to volunteering with the SBDC.”

When asked why he has remained committed to the ABC program for nearly twenty years, Grennan explained, “The large majority of small businesses are established by individuals with technical experience in their industry and a passion to see if they ‘can do it better.’ Unfortunately, skills and passion alone are not enough. The great small businesses are well capitalized, have established reporting systems and focused direction. The businesses I had the privilege to advise are provided the necessary tools for success from experts from multiple disciplines and immense experience over a lot of years. Becoming involved with ABC is my way to do a small part in supporting small business owners with my knowledge gained from both others and my own experience in assisting clients for the last 40 years.”

For more information about Grennan Fender Hess & Poparad, LLP, please visit orlandoaccounting.com/.

For more information about the FSBDC at UCF’s Advisory Board Council, please visit sbdcorlando.com/abc/.

Fix-It Accounting Expanding in Florida

Deland-based Firm Benefits from Programs and Services Provided by Florida SBDC at Daytona State College

December 15, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or hthayer@ucf.edu

Thomas Daly, Sub-Center Director, FSBDC at DSC, 386.506.3317 or thomas.day@daytonastate.edu

Orlando, FL – Building a successful small business and managing its development is not easy, whether there is a pandemic or not. Finding advisors, mentors or others who have dealt with or can assist with the challenges inherent in growing a business can be equally as difficult. Fortunately, there are excellent options for business guidance and assistance available in Central Florida, which is what Nancy Benet, president of Fix-it Accounting, Inc., found at the Florida Small Business Development Center at Daytona State College (FSBDC at DSC), a sub-center of the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida.

Fix-it Accounting serves a state-wide client base, specializing in IRS problem resolution in addition to offering bookkeeping and tax preparation services. “We are all about solving our client’s problems,” says Benet. “Resolving issues with the IRS is like solving a puzzle by putting all the pieces together. And that’s what we do. We help our clients get things right and put themselves back into good standing with the IRS.”

Like all business owners, Nancy Benet wanted Fix-It Accounting to be successful and has ambitions to make it a national firm. She also recognized it is harder to achieve those goals if you go it alone. “All great athletes have a coach. And every business owner who wants to be successful needs one too“ Benet states. “Along with leveraging their consulting, training, and market research resources, I sought out assistance from the SBDC to connect with other entrepreneurs and business owners through the FSBDC at DSC’s Growth XChange.”

The Growth XChange offers a confidential setting on a monthly basis for business owners to discuss vital business issues, opportunities, and trends with a group of peers.  By engaging in collaborative thinking, learning from subject matter experts and group problem solving, business owners are able to lead their companies more effectively to the second stage.

“The Growth XChange is a group of small business owners and entrepreneurs just like me,” continued Benet. “I’ve really benefited from it. It’s just blossomed. I’ve gotten a lot of help, a lot of peer-to-peer coaching. I really wish I’d done this years ago because I think I’d be a lot further along now.”

In addition to the Growth XChange, Benet has taken advantage of the FSBDC’s no-cost consulting and market research resources, working directly with the FSBDC at DSC’s Director Tom Daly. “Working with Tom and the SBDC has really allowed me to expand my business,” says Benet. “To have access to those services and that sort of expertise has been just amazing.”

“Since joining the Growth XChange and starting with the FSBDC, I have been able to achieve a lot of growth – about 40% per year – without expanding my team,“ Benet concluded. “We were also able to obtain funding to purchase a 11,000 sq. ft. office complex that will be our new headquarters. I don’t think I would have had the confidence and certainly wouldn’t have had the access to the right people to help me do it without the Small Business Development Center at Daytona State College.”

For information about Fix-It Accounting, please visit www.fixitaccounting.com.

— FSBDC —

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of the UCF Office of Partnership & Innovation and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2019, the FSBDC at UCF served almost 2,500 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,000 jobs created, retained or saved; $1.2 billion in sales growth; $62.3 million in capital formation; $213.2 million in government contract awards; and 125 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com.

About the Florida SBDC Network

For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2019, Florida SBDCs provided 114,064 of professional business consulting to over 12,500 client businesses, resulting in almost 38,000 jobs impacted; $4.4 billion in sales generated; $496.5 million in government contracts acquired; $255.3 million in capital accessed; and 453 new businesses started.

A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a 2016 recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com

Warehouse Equipment Growing with FSBDC at UCF – Kissimmee/Osceola County Assistance

FSBDC at UCF’s Kissimmee/Osceola County Office Assists Storage Racking Systems and Materials Handling Company

November 11, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or hthayer@ucf.edu

Elly Membreno, Consultant, FSBDC at UCF – Kissimmee-Osceola County, 407.847.4311 or Elly.Membrano@ucf.edu

Orlando, FL – Building your own business can be a monumental undertaking, even if you have had previous success in your industry. And the degree of difficulty increases dramatically when you are a woman whose new company operates in a historically male-dominated world. It’s time like these when business assistance can help, and why Linsy Di Pietro, founder and owner of Warehouse Equipment and Supply, Inc (WES), turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its Kissimmee/Osceola County office for help.

Warehouse Equipment and Supply is in the business of providing material handling and storage racking systems. Di Pietro and her company have as their primary objective to provide customers with quality products at competitive prices, and with service they can depend on. WES offers a full range of warehouse solutions, products, and services including: Racking Systems, shelving, material handling equipment; Forklift and lift equipment, rolling ladders, pallet jacks, safety accessories for racks, forklifts and warehouses, dock equipment, and more. WES also assists in planning additions to a customer’s present racking system with the right equipment or fixtures to blend in for maximum efficiency.

While today WES is a full service and fast-growing company, there were struggles in its early days. After parting ways with a former partner who is now a competitor, Di Pietro knew what she wanted to make happen but was not sure how to do it. “When I originally came to the Florida SBDC, I was kind of lost on where to go, on what direction to follow, about how to help my business grow,” Di Pietro recalls.

“At the SBDC, I found a lot of valuable information and guidance,” she continued. “Their workshops and training, and expert no-cost consulting has helped me bring my business to where it is today.” In fact, FSBDC’s consultant Elly Membreno from its Kissimmee/Osceola County Office assisted her with establishing her business guidelines; obtaining insurance and permitting references; budgeting and finance; hiring and payroll; creating business contracts; and, most recently, marketing, ecommerce, and social media.

“My experience working with the FSBDC has been amazing,” states Di Pietro. “Since I started working with them, I have seen big changes in my business. They encouraged my commitment to great customer service, so I have happy customers and WES’s reputation is strong with many Google Five Star reviews. We have earned an exclusive relationship and become the main distributor of a leading pallet manufacturer. And we have grown so fast that we have already had to move to a larger location. Best of all, not only are we profitable, but we have tripled our gross sales.”

“And all of this is thanks to the SBDC,” concluded Di Pietro, “because of the way they helped, the way they supported me, the way they allowed me to see how important it was to be serious and focused on my business. If you have the opportunity to work with the SBDC, I can tell you: do not lose that opportunity!”

For more information about Warehouse Equipment & Supply, please visit https://www.warehousequipment.com/  or email at Linsy@wesracks.com or call 321-216-7032.

— FSBDC —

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of the UCF Office of Partnership & Innovation and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2019, the FSBDC at UCF served almost 2,500 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,000 jobs created, retained or saved; $1.2 billion in sales growth; $62.3 million in capital formation; $213.2 million in government contract awards; and 125 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com.

About the Florida SBDC Network

For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2019, Florida SBDCs provided 114,064 of professional business consulting to over 12,500 client businesses, resulting in almost 38,000 jobs impacted; $4.4 billion in sales generated; $496.5 million in government contracts acquired; and $255.3 million in capital accessed.

A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a 2016 recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com

FSBDC at UCF, University of Central Florida, Small Business Assistance

Getting It Right the First Time: Control Engineering Group Back in Gear

Florida SBDC at Seminole State College Assists Company Purchaser Shift from Employee to Business Owner

October 27, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or hthayer@ucf.edu

Monica Williams, Sub-Center Director, SBDC at SSC, 407.321.3495 or williamsmm@seminolestate.edu

Orlando, FL – Buying a business and shifting from the role of employee to business owner is a transformational experience – and not an easy one, at that. Add putting that business back into a growth mode and you will have an idea of the challenges Carlos Rivera, owner of Control Engineering Group (CEG), faced when he purchased the company in 2017. Fortunately, Rivera had the Florida Small Business Development Center at Seminole State College (FSBDC at SSC), a sub-center of the FSBDC at UCF, to turn to for guidance and the tools he would need for a successful transition.

Control Engineering Group is a state-certified, full-service electrical contractor providing electrical work to commercial and industrial new construction and renovation projects. CEG also offers control panel design, service, and installation for specialized industries, with proven expertise in the agriculture and farming sectors, and is a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB).

“It’s the quality of our work and the quality of our employees that sets us apart,” says Rivera. “We adhere to higher standards, and take care of both our customers and our employees like they are family.”

Rivera left a division manager role at a large, locally-owned electrical contractor when he purchased CEG, which had been in business for more than 30 years when he took ownership but had stagnated during and after the Great Recession.  “I did everything at the previous company, except be an owner,” recalls Rivera. “And I had never bought a company before. When I did, I wanted to make sure I had solid advice about what to expect, what to look out for and how to negotiate the purchase. That’s when I contacted the FSBDC.”

At the FSBDC, Rivera took advantage of a variety of services, initially its no-cost, expert business consulting and then later its government contracting (through its affiliate, the Procurement Technical Assistance Center) and Advisory Board Council programs. “The SBDC opened my eyes to a lot of the nuances of getting into a business, and then of running one,” Rivera says. “There’s a lot of things involved that people don’t realize. It’s not just putting your name on the door and turning on the lights. There’s a lot more to it.”

“The FSBDC let me know what to look for, things I should be doing to get off to a good start. They helped me fill the gaps,” Rivera continued. “What really helped me was that they guided me in becoming a little more professional in how we presented ourselves, in our marketing, in our contracts and with our most important resource: our people.”

“Everything about working with the SBDC has been positive, to be honest with you,” concluded Rivera. “Their consulting helped me through the due diligence and purchase of my company; their PTAC group helped guide us through getting our veteran certification; and their Advisory Board is helping me right now be a better, smarter and more effective business owner. It’s only been three years, and we’re already a multi-million dollar revenue company.”

For information about Control Engineering Group, please visit https://control-eng.com/.

— FSBDC —

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of the UCF Office of Partnership & Innovation and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2019, the FSBDC at UCF served almost 2,500 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,000 jobs created, retained or saved; $1.2 billion in sales growth; $62.3 million in capital formation; $213.2 million in government contract awards; and 125 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com.

About the Florida SBDC Network

For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2019, Florida SBDCs provided 114,064 of professional business consulting to over 12,500 client businesses, resulting in almost 38,000 jobs impacted; $4.4 billion in sales generated; $496.5 million in government contracts acquired; $255.3 million in capital accessed; and 453 new businesses started.

A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a 2016 recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com