White Pelicans Holdings

White Pelican Holdings: Managing Its Growth and Success

Lake County Home Services Company Moving Ahead with Assistance from the FSBDC at UCF – Lake County

May 6, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

John Doramus, Consultants, FSBDC at UCF – Lake County, 352.404.7338 or John.Doramus@ucf.edu

Orlando – Managing growth can present major challenges for a small business owner. What starts as a good idea can turn into a great concept that customers flock to, sometimes even resulting in related new opportunities that can’t be passed up. Before you know it, your business has grown into multiple divisions with complicated finances and additional bookkeeping requirements. That’s when you need help. Finding himself in such circumstances, Steve Stiffler, CEO of White Pelican Holdings, began looking for that kind of support and found it at the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) in Lake County.

White Pelican Holdings is a home services company offering a broad range of assistance to homeowners and businesses primarily in The Villages® Communities, but also in Lake, Sumter and Marion counties. The company is family owned and hands on, with an emphasis on personal service across the board.

Comprised of four divisions – Cleaning, Home Watch, Realty, and Vacation Rentals – White Pelican provides property management, real estate brokerage, residential & commercial cleaning, and golf cart rescue & transportation services, among others. “Your One-Stop Shop for all your property management and home services needs in The Villages® Communities” is how they like to describe themselves.

While Stiffler is proud of the managers he has on his team running those divisions – “Our people are good at what they do and we let them do it,” he asserts – there became a point when he wanted additional help managing it all, especially the finances. “I found an advertisement for the FSBDC that talked about its no-cost, expert consulting, business training and market research resources,” he adds, and thought at the time, “Wow, that’s something that could really help us.”

“Our problem was that I’d had several accountants over the past years, and they’d never really figured our business out,” Stiffler recalls. “They couldn’t get us on track to know where we were financially. That’s when I picked up the phone and called the FSBDC and found John Doramus, my FSBDC consultant here in Lake County.”

“The FSBDC and John have helped me because he is a ‘Go To’ person who has experience where I do not,” says Stifler. “They have resources they can tap into to help your business. Our big thing was accounting, and they really helped us out in that respect. The SBDC and John also helped me find avenues for getting COVID-19 SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Paycheck Protection Program money. Without those, we wouldn’t be here today.”

“Working with the FSBDC and John Doramus has been unbelievable,” Stiffler continued. “They provided us with the advice and tools necessary, not only to be more profitable but to grow our business. We’ve added eight employees in the two years we’ve been working with the FSBDC, as well as having our profit margins increase. They have been a tremendous resource for us in trying to right our ship. Kudos to the FSBDC.”

“What I’ve learned from the FSBDC gave me the tools necessary to be successful” Stiffler concluded. “If you do what they tell you to do and use what they have to offer, there’s no way you can’t be successful.”

For more information about White Pelican, please visit https://whitepelicanhomeservices.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 2020, Florida SBDCs provided 162,476 hours of professional business consulting to almost 23,900 client businesses, resulting in almost 38,000 jobs impacted; $4.4 billion in sales generated; $335 million in government contracts acquired; and $385.8 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

RTW Photography

RTW Photography: Growing with Style

Full-service Photography and Videography Company Expands with Assistance from Florida SBDC at UCF and Florida PTAC at UCF

Contact:

Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4879 or HThayer@ucf.edu

Pauline Davis, Assistant Director/Consultant, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4852 or Pauline.Davis@ucf.edu

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

Orlando – Three friends came together, each with different backgrounds, to start RTW Photography. One was an engineer, another a CPA, the third an educator. None had owned a business before, but they had goals and aspirations to become entrepreneurs and photography was their calling.

The company enjoyed early success but the partners – Derrious Robinson, Founder & Director of Business Operations; Lavell Monger, Director of Marketing & Communications; and Walter Tre Idlette, Director of Finances – wanted more, and sought ways to grow and expand. It was then that they turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its affiliate, the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at UCF (FPTAC at UCF), for guidance.

RTW Photography is a full-service photography and videography company serving individual, commercial, and government clients. “What separates us from our competitors is that we offer so many services within the camera photography world,” says Monger. “Videography, photography, photo booth, live screens – we capture anything and everything that can be captured in front of a camera, and we do it with style and professionalism.” There are many satisfied customers who will testify to their high-quality work.

Seeing opportunities to grow is one thing, knowing how to implement is another. For that reason, the team at RTW approached the FSBDC for its no-cost, expert consulting, business training, and access to market research. In addition, they called upon FPTAC to assist with obtaining government contracts.

“The main reason we reached out to the FSBDC was for guidance and mentorship,” recalls Monger. “In fact, the FSBDC has been instrumental in helping us grow our business,” adds Idlette. “They have helped us with organizing our finances, pursuing government contracts as well as marketing our company.” Further, says Robinson, “we realized that, in order to be really successful, we needed to figure out a long-term plan for how we could grow our business. Working with the FSBDC has been a real partnership doing that. They have been there guiding us on how to chase government contracts, grow our commercial client base, redesign our website, budget and forecast our finances. We’re very grateful to the FSBDC for that assistance,” he concludes.

With the assistance of the FSBDC and FPATC, RTW has achieved significant results. “We’re blessed. Our business is growing,” says Idlette. “With the Pandemic, we had a slow start but the FSBDC and team really helped us focus and prioritize on what to do next.” With the assistance of Kara Vernon, PTAC Specialist, RTW bid on and won a 10-year contract for school photography with Hillsborough County Public Schools and is positioned to bid on other government contracts. Thanks to assistance from an FSBDC Business Recovery Team of five consultants led by Pauline Davis, an Assistant Director and consultant herself, the company pivoted to focus on commercial and corporate clients and was able to grow revenues by 40% in 2020.

“It’s been a great partnership with the FSBDC,” founder Robinson said in closing. “We look forward to continuing to work with them as the years go by.”

For more information about RTW Photography, please visit https://ridethewave.co/.

— 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 2020, Florida SBDCs provided 162,476 hours of professional business consulting to almost 23,900 client businesses, resulting in almost 38,000 jobs impacted; $4.4 billion in sales generated; $335 million in government contracts acquired; and $385.8 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

Karina Lakefront Maintenance

Karina Lakefront Maintenance: Finding Help and Achieving Success

FSBDC at UCF and Florida PTAC at UCF Assist Aquatic Environment Company with Growth

April 20, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

                 Jairo Batista, Consultant, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4853 or Jairo.Batista@ucf.edu

Orlando – Finding assistance, especially the right kind of assistance, can sometimes become challenging for a small business owner. There are numerous organizations offering help and resources, but some can be more effective than others. Ana Gabriela Roosen, co-owner and the business development leader at Karina Lake Front Maintenance and Renovation, was looking for help with growing her business and called on the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for guidance.

Karina Lakefront Maintenance and Renovation manages aquatic environments. This includes conducting lakefront restorations, ongoing maintenance, and providing aqua scaping and erosion control services for residential, commercial, and government clients. Karina Lakefront also happens to be one of the very few companies doing this type of business while certified as an Economically Disadvantaged Woman Owned Small Business (ED/WOSB).

“What differentiates Karina Lakefront is our artisanal approach,” says Roosen. “We do our work by hand, promote native plantings, and use the least amount of chemicals and machinery as possible so as not to harm a lake’s ecology. We do all we can to improve the shoreline, the quality of the water and the overall environment.”

“We’re good at everything we do out in the field,” Roosen continued. “But when it comes to the marketing, the online world and social media and entering new markets, we needed some help and that’s why we came to the FSBDC. Before I found the FSBDC, I felt like I was reaching for help at places where I wasn’t getting results and I felt kind of lonely and alone. It’s hard to be an owner of a company without having that upper management guidance I was used to. After I had the FSBDC, it was like I had a guardian angel on my shoulder. Everything I needed; they were always there for me.”

Taking advantage of the FSBDC’s no-cost, expert consulting, as well as working with its government contracting affiliate, the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at UCF (Florida PTAC at UCF), Roosen was able to find the support she was seeking. “Since the first meeting with my FSBDC consultant Jairo Batista, he’s been in communications with me. And he opened doors for me to many SBDC services: digital marketing counseling; SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tutoring; government contracting guidance and help with my capabilities statement for bidding; and support obtaining several Covid-19 disaster relief loans are some examples. You go there and ask them anything and they will have someone who can help you.”

Roosen and her company have enjoyed strong business results since she began working with the FSBDC. “We have seen financial increases of 15% due to how we are managing our social media based on suggestions from the FSBDC. We learned how to bid for government work and won a 3-year, $100,000 contract. And we were able to access those disaster relief loans,” says Roosen.

“If I had to use one word to describe the FSBDC, it would be ‘relief’ because that’s what they give small business owners: peace of mind and make them feel comfortable through the journey of owning a business,” concluded Roosen.

For more information about Karina Lakefront Maintenance & Restoration, please visit https://www.karinalakefront.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 2020, Florida SBDCs provided 162,476 hours of professional business consulting to almost 23,900 client businesses, resulting in almost 38,000 jobs impacted; $4.4 billion in sales generated; $335 million in government contracts acquired; and $385.8 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

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

Florida SBDC at UCF

Freeway International Logistics: Finding Success by Doing the “Right Thing”

Florida SBDC at UCF Assists Company Start and Succeed

January 12, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

Charles Wheeler, Consultant, Florida SBDC at UCF, 407.420.4846 or Charles.Wheeler@ucf.edu

Orlando – “Big business starts small” is an aphorism taken to heart by many when launching a new venture. As aspiring entrepreneurs grapple with the challenges and risks of starting a new business, starting strong with as much information and support as possible is always a critical best practice.

That is why, in 2018, Erik Sharpee first connected with the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for assistance with opening his new business, Freeway International Logistics LLC, a third-party transportation logistics provider that helps move products around the country and around the globe.

Sharpee is not a novice in the third-party logistics arena; he had been doing it for 25 years while working for world-class companies. He learned that there is only one thing that’s important in the world of transportation logistics: everything. Because the industry is dependent on both shippers and carriers, Sharpee knew there was opportunity in building a business focused on being fair to both and “trying to do the right thing,” as he likes to say, in all aspects of a transaction.

“What are the steps to starting a business?” he asked himself. That is when he turned to the FSBDC at UCF and its consultant Chuck Wheeler. “I’ve been doing this business my whole life,” Sharpee recalls. “But I didn’t have any experience getting into business, any knowledge about the state requirements, the taxes and fees, the right steps to take. It all seemed overwhelming. So, I got in with the FSBDC and Chuck was super helpful.”

Taking advantage of the FSBDC’s no-cost, expert consulting services, business training, and seminars, Sharpee moved ahead with launching his venture. “It turns out it’s not as scary if you know what you’re doing,” he continued. “Sometimes the best thing you can do, if you’re not sure about what you’re doing, is to find someone who does. And Chuck was that man for us.”

“I would absolutely advise an entrepreneur or small business owner to go to the FSBDC,” Sharpee says now. “The truth is: you don’t know what you don’t know. The FSBDC has been a valuable resource in answering all our questions and helping us understand the pitfalls of our starting a business.”

“I don’t think we’re inventing anything unique at our company. But what we do have is a group of good people who care about what they do, who have relationships with our customers, and we share a commitment to always try to do the right thing,” Sharpee says.

And doing the “right thing” seems to be working for Freeway International Logistics. They have grown from two employees and $25,000 in monthly revenues at the start to 19 employees and $13 million in annual revenue today.

“If I had to use one word to describe the FSBDC and what it does for you, it would be ‘empowering’ because they empowered me to have the belief that I could start something and get it on the right path while having someone to turn to if I had questions,” concluded Sharpee. “Going from $25,000 to $13 million in 2 years is pretty good.”

For more information about Freeway International Logistics, please visit https://www.freewaylogs.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