KeyCom Technologies

KeyCom Technologies

Owning and running a small business isn’t easy. Certainly there are perks: you are your own boss, you reap the rewards of your work directly, you chart the course for your business and your future. But offsetting those benefits is the responsibility on your shoulders for your business, your customers, your employees and more. You have to make decisions, often with limited information and no one to advise you. It’s no wonder they say “it’s lonely at the top.”

Finding a solution to the feeling of isolation that can come with being a small business owner was the challenge that Phil Medina, President and owner of KeyCom Technologies, needed to pursue. It was within the Florida SBDC at UCF (FSBDC at UCF) and its CEO XChange program that he found the answers and support he had been seeking. CEO XChange is an executive roundtable program that offers a confidential setting for business leaders to discuss vital issues, opportunities and trends with a group of peers.

CEO XChange Program Manager Hal Thayer with KeyCom's Phil Medina

CEO XChange Program Manager Hal Thayer with KeyCom’s Phil Medina

KeyCom Technologies is a full-service design, installation, and support organization for a wide spectrum of technologies tied to carrier services, phone systems, access control, surveillance, data networks, Wi-Fi, and infrastructure utilizing fiber optics in the ground and data cables in the walls. They have been particularly strong outfitting assisted living facilities, schools, and auto dealerships, but have worked in almost all environments. At the helm of a 35 year old, fast-moving technology firm having served 5,000+ business customers, Medina has a lot on his plate.

“Originally we were a pure telecom company, doing old-fashioned phone systems,” recalls Medina. “Over the years we began casting a much wider technology net, but back in 2008-9 when the world was falling apart economically, there were different decisions to be made that required more than just tech innovation.”

“I tried other CEO groups, names you’d recognize, but they were expensive and didn’t have what I wanted,” continued Medina. “Then I discovered the FSBDC’s CEO XChange. It’s a group of business leaders who’ve been there, done that. They provide feedback loops and insight into all kinds of skin-your-knee experiences without you having to go through them yourself.”

“Since we started with the CEO XChange almost 9 years ago, KeyCom is much healthier, much happier, and seeing consistent annual growth in the areas pursued,” Medina went on. “But that almost misses the point. Although we’ve seen solid top-line growth, the really big change is our business model. We’ve transitioned from a transactional sales model to a recurring revenue model. That required a full commitment to the long-game we feared undertaking, but we gained considerable courage by bouncing the plan off of my peer group at CEO XChange.”

“The CEO XChange is a safe environment with smart people who listen to your issues, offer you feedback, and leave you with action items you can execute,” concluded Medina. “It’s been a very, very good return on my investment in terms of time, money, and outcomes. Without the CEO XChange, it probably would have taken twice as long to implement this transition that has opened the door to a much brighter future for my company.”

For information about KeyCom Technologies, please visit www.keycom.net.

Enviro USA Manufacturing's Jennifer and Luis Vargas

Enviro-USA American Manufacturer

“You don’t know what you don’t know.” That’s the mantra of many of the smart and successful small business clients that seek assistance from Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF). And all credit goes to those business owners; recognizing that they don’t have all the answers and that they can benefit from the FSBDC’s services, including its programs for established, second stage companies as well as its expert, confidential, no-cost consulting.

Jennifer Vargas, President, and Luis Vargas, Vice President, lead and are co-owners of Enviro-USA American Manufacturer LLC, the producer of environmental protection apparatus. It makes containment booms for the oil industry, silt or turbidity curtains for the marine construction industry, and seaweed barriers for the tourism industry. They had grown the business to more than $1 million in sales by 2016 but had hit a rough patch.

“We were at a point where we felt like we needed assistance,” recalls Jennifer Vargas. “Challenges were presenting themselves. Unfamiliar issues and problems were arising, daily it seemed. We knew we didn’t have all the answers and needed guidance. We needed professionals to help us move forward. That’s why we signed up with the FSBDC.”

Enviro-USA Facility

Enviro-USA American Manufacturer’s Facility

Enviro-USA and the Vargases accessed multiple of the FSBDC’s services. They received in-depth marketing and financial analysis consulting from the FSBDC’s Eastern Florida State College sub-center. The local Procurement Specialist from the FSBDC’s Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at UCF (Florida PTAC at UCF) assisted with government contracting opportunities. And the FSBDC at UCF’s International Trade Program Manager Jill McLaughlin led in developing an export marketing plan for the company.

“The FSBDC is amazing to work with,” says Luis Vargas. “They dived deep into our issues. In the export marketing plan, we learned what countries to target and so much more. With our financials, they opened our eyes and pointed out where we needed to focus. On the marketing side, they got is down into the nitty-gritty to grow our revenues.”

If that wasn’t enough, the Vargases also joined the FSBDC’s Advisory Board Council (ABC), a no-cost board of volunteer experts, selected to address the specific needs of the FSBDC client providing advice and counsel to help businesses grow.  “Working with the ABC advisors was so important and so valuable. They shared so much knowledge; about production, sales, human resources, business-to-business marketing. It enabled us to make so many better decisions at the company. And ABC Program Manager Jill Kaufman was instrumental in making it happen,” stated Luis Vargas.

The Vargas’s work with the FSBDC has paid rich rewards. Enviro-USA has achieved remarkable results since starting with the FSBDC: the company has been able to double its factory space, its work force and its manufacturing capacity. Revenues have increased more than 90% and profits have grown by 1,000%.

“You can’t go wrong working with the FSBDC,” concluded Jennifer Vargas. “You can only improve your business. You get experts to help you with every aspect of your business and it’s at no cost. They are there for you, to help you every way that they can.”

For information about Enviro-USA American Manufacturer  please visit www.enviro-usa.com.

PurgARTory Makeup

PurgARTory

The intersection of creativity and commerce can be hard to find for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Transforming an idea into a business, then imbuing that idea with the passion and desire of an artist, takes energy and resilience and courage. Professional artist Lynne Schaffer had those qualities and more when she came to the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for assistance with launching and building her art, makeup and fashion brand, the House of PurgARTory, beginning with PurgARTory Makeup by Lynne Schaffer.

Schaffer’s vision for her company and her brand is clear. “We celebrate edgy sophistication, confidence and individuality, glamour and affordable extravagance.  We’re about being vintage, classy, dark, and fun! It’s for strong, independent, creative, bad-ass dames!” says Schaffer. While fashion and art are in the future, Schaffer launched with PurgARTory cosmetics that she says “brings you back to basics with the Classics, the Essentials. We are the affordable luxury, high-quality, richly pigmented, versatile, universal, skin care infused makeup for all skin colors and types.”

Schaffer came to PurgARTory with a visual arts background and more than 15 years as a professional makeup artist representing luxury brands like Dior. “My experience was all on the creative side of the world, with some sales and marketing thrown in,” recalls Schaffer. “But I had some concerns about starting and running a business without guidance about the technical and regulatory issues, as well as wanting to learn everything I need to know about marketing, finance, accounting and the like. That’s why I came to the FSBDC.”

“At the outset, it all seemed too huge and overwhelming for me to take on by myself,” Schaffer continued. “I’d heard that the FSBDC offered courses and workshops, so I signed up to get a foundation of knowledge. From the start, working with the FSBDC has been a very good experience that far exceeded my expectations.”

“First and foremost, and by far the most important and beneficial assistance I received from FSBDC, is the one-on-one, confidential, no-cost consulting I have received from Chuck Wheeler, my FSBDC consultant,” says Schaffer. “The quality of his guidance and his professionalism is what struck me. He walked me through every step of the process. It was so reassuring to work with someone who has had personal experience with the challenges I was dealing with.”

From its start more than a year ago, PurgARTory Makeup by Lynne Schaffer has grown into a successful business. Schaffer is collaborating with others in the arts community, scheduling special makeup events at boutiques and hair salons, and was featured at a fashion show in a prominent local art gallery. She is producing “Pop Up” shops where she works directly with clients introducing the advantages of PurgARTory Makeup by Lynne Schaffer.

“It’s such a relief to know you’re not alone in running your business,” concluded Schaffer. “It can be scary. I don’t feel that way anymore, though, thanks to the FSBDC and Chuck. Their main goal is for us to succeed and that’s just what’s happening for me.”

For information about PurgARTory Makeup, please visit www.purgartory.com.

Patriot Government Partners

Orlando, FL – Resolve. If there’s one trait that distinguishes successful entrepreneurs and their small businesses from the rest, it is their determination to accomplish their goals, undeterred by the obstacles they must overcome. Ashley Green, the founder and principal at Patriot Government Partners, a business specializing in government contracting, has proven she has the necessary tenacity and, when assisted by the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at the University of Central Florida (Florida PTAC at UCF), the needed support to be successful.

Major Ashley Green of Patriot Government Partners with PTAC Consultant Steve South

Major Ashley Green of Patriot Government Partners with PTAC Consultant Steve South

Ashley Green has served for almost 20 years, and is a newly promoted Major and Company Commander, in the United States Army Reserve. Patriot Government Partners launched in November 2018 with a mission to leverage the founder’s military background –– and her healthcare experience and knowledge of small business ownership to provide information technology and project management services, centered primarily around healthcare, to government contracting clients.

“I knew I wanted to build a business, but I wasn’t sure how to formulate the plan and the steps I needed to take,“ recalls Green. “So I came to the Florida PTAC at UCF for help. I did everything – from soup to nuts – through PTAC.”

“My Procurement Specialist and the manager of the Florida PTAC at UCF, Steve South, worked with me practically weekly,” Green continued. “First on my project plan, then on pro forma financial statements and marketing plans. He gave me the checklist I needed to become a government contractor. He connected me with Jean Hill, a PTAC Coordinator, who helped set me up in Bid Match – an extensive database of federal, state, local, and international contracting opportunities – and with Kara Vernon, also a PTAC Specialist, who has guided me through utilizing the U.S. Department of Defense’s Wide Area Workflow (WAWF) system, a web-based application that allows DoD Vendors to submit and track their invoices, receipts and acceptance documents electronically.”

Once Patriot Government Partners opened in November, with the help of the Florida PTAC at UCF Green registered her company as a woman-owned and veteran-owned business within the U.S. Government Services Administration’s (GSA) System for Award Management (SAM). She began watching the daily feed of opportunities from the Bid Match system. And she found one!  But time was short.

The Florida Air National Guard had put a contract for bid to project manage a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event where airmen and their families are provided information and services prior to a deployment. It was scheduled for late January. Unfazed by the short time line, Green pursued the contract with assistance from the Florida PTAC at UCF. In just a few short weeks that included two major holidays and a partial government shutdown, and despite being new to government contacting, Green overcame delays, doubts and uncertainty, and Patriot Government Partners won their first contract three months after launching. If that’s not resolve in the face of long odds, then nothing is.

“Excellence is what I found at the PTAC,” concluded Green. “Everyone who works there is more helpful than the next. Their only goal is to help me grow and build my business the right way. The Florida PTAC at UCF has been so beneficial to me and my company.”

For information about Patriot Government Partners, please visit www.patriotpartnersllc.com.

FSBDC Consutlant Lisa Reineck with Toni B. Springer

Toni B. Springer CPA PA

People. It’s always about people. Finding good ones; then finding more. Helping them be as productive as possible. Creating a constructive company culture. Human resource management is one of the single largest challenges faced by owners of small-to-medium sized businesses. That’s what we see and hear at the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) every day and why we offer the DISC behavior assessment tool, implemented by a DISC-trained consultant, to help our clients improve work productivity, teamwork and communication.

As important as employee effectiveness and satisfaction are for all businesses, nowhere is it more important than in a service business. Toni Springer, owner and principal at Toni B. Springer CPA PA, recognized that fact. Her firm offers tax, accounting, and business consulting services to companies and individuals. They like to say, “We can service your accounting needs so you can run your business, not let your business run you.”

The key word here is “service.” High quality, personalized service is crucial to her company and Springer relies on her employees to deliver that service. So finding the right people and creating a positive work environment are crucial to her success. “I had found the right person for a key role the firm,” recalls Springer. “A colleague suggested I needed to clone her. His experience with DISC had been very positive and he recommended I see what it could tell me about this person’s personality and behavior profile for the next time I was hiring or if I needed to replace her.”

Springer contacted FSBDC at UCF consultant and DISC expert Lisa Reineck to implement the DISC tool. Focused on four behavioral traits — Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance – the tool draws a picture of an individual’s behaviors and preferences that can be used to enhance collaboration, cooperation and communications.

“Lisa did a great job and DISC had amazing consequences,” continued Springer. “I have very good people, who performed and collaborated better when they started recognizing each other’s styles and where the points of conflict existed. It brought peace back into the office. We all have better insights into each other’s behavioral traits which significantly increased the morale of everyone.”

“As a manager, DISC helped me see attributes in my employees I hadn’t recognized before which enabled me to place people where they best fit, would be most productive and most fulfilled,” Springer went on. “It may have even saved me from losing a valued employee. DISC revealed that one staff member was under immense stress from increased workloads. The results of the DISC report prompted me to make a quicker decision to hire additional staff. If I hadn’t engaged in DISC, I probably wouldn’t have made the decision to hire immediately and my ability to grow my business the way I wanted would have been hindered.”

“Increased productivity, improved efficiency, expanded employee effectiveness and the opportunity to make better decisions, that’s how DISC was very helpful for my firm,” concluded Springer. “We’re on the road to a terrific 2019 with the right people in the right roles, thanks to the help of the FSBDC.”

For information about Toni B. Springer CPA PA, please visit www.tbscpa.com.

Kern Halls of Ingenious Culinary Concepts with FSBDC at UCF Consultant Jairo Batista

Ingenious Culinary Concepts

Hitting a bump in the road goes with the territory when you are a small business owner. The challenge for an entrepreneur is to know what to do when you hit that bump. When Kern Halls, founder and chief innovator of Ingenious Culinary Concepts, encountered a slowdown in the growth of his company, he decided his best bet was to seek assistance from the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF).

Ingenious Culinary Concepts (ICC) core business is helping Kindergarten through grade 12 school food service programs be successful, both in terms of satisfying their student customers and minimizing, if not eliminating, expenses for their school system. Saving children from hunger translates to them doing better academically. And, because school lunch programs rely heavily on federal funding, if they are underutilized and don’t make the most of the available federal dollars, then the excess costs fall on the local school district.

Enter Kern Halls and Ingenious Culinary Concepts. Using extensive food service experience and expertise, the company brings a process-oriented approach to building a marketing strategy focused on atmosphere, operations, menu and food quality. The goal is single minded: to persuade students to eat in the cafeteria. It’s why their tag line is “We Bring your Customers to the Table.”

As with many small businesses however, ICC’s growth had plateaued. “We hit a little bump in revenues so I went to the FSBDC,” Halls recalls. “I’d heard they had great consultants and great knowledge that could help companies like mine get over hurdles like I was facing. And, Boy, was I right.”

Halls took advantage of the FSBDC’s no-cost, expert business consulting; seminars and workshops; and market research resources. Working with FSBDC consultant Jairo Batista, who provided a website analysis and social media recommendations, Halls redesigned his marketing strategy and increased its effectiveness. Thanks to Batista, he also consulted with Steve South, Procurement Specialist and manager of the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) at the University of Central Florida (PTAC at UCF), who assisted him with pursuing government business certifications as well as identifying government contracting opportunities.

“Jairo and the FSBDC really have a command of marketing, with a real depth of understanding,” says Halls. “He made sure we got everything we needed to achieve growth for our company. And Steve opened our eyes to what’s out there. He showed us the systems available to us for finding government contracts, and he guided us through the certification process. Both have helped us win big contracts.”

“Since starting with the FSBDC, our revenues have doubled over last year,” Halls continued. “We wanted to spread our wings and diversify our revenues, and we have. We’ve grown fast and now are so busy we are hiring. Going forward, we’re looking for the FSBDC help us with a strategy to manage that growth, while staying lean but still adding clients and revenues.”

Kern Halls hit a bump in the road but he knew what to do; he got help in the form of assistance from the Florida SBDC and Florida PTAC at the University of Central Florida.

For information about Ingenious Culinary Concepts, please visit www.ingeniouscc.com .

Grumpy Bert's BBQ with FSBDC - Lake County Consultant Eddie Hill

Grumpy Bert’s BBQ

Owning and operating a small business are not for the faint of heart; anyone who’s done it will tell you it’s hard work. On the other hand, the rewards are immense: being your own boss, reaping the rewards of your hard work directly, turning your passion into a career and thereby never working another day in your life.

Pat and Gary Sorensen will testify to both sides of the small business ownership equation. They started and now run Grumpy Bert’s BBQ, a mobile barbeque kitchen a/k/a food truck based in Lake County, Florida that proudly tells its many loyal customers: “Shut Up & Eat. Food with Attitude” and features menu items like “Rub Me The Wrong Way Ribs,” “Surly Smoked Brisket” and “Petulant Pulled Pork”, not to mention “Bad Tempered Beans” and “Cantankerous Corn Casserole.”

The Sorensens will also tell you not to go it alone when launching a business. Grumpy Bert’s isn’t their first small business and from the start they knew they wanted to get help from the Florida SBDC at UCF – Lake County. “We’ve never done a food service business before,” says Pat Sorensen. “We really weren’t sure what we were doing so we wanted to get information on how best to get started and I knew the FSBDC would have answers for us and they did.”

The Sorensens turned to Eddie Hill, Area Manager, and Cesar Gomez, program assistant, both in the FSBDC’s Lake County office, for assistance. They took advantage of the FSBDC’s no-cost, expert business consulting and various business seminars, all of which set them up for success.

“From the beginning, the FSBDC has been a very positive experience. Eddie and Cesar have been so helpful,” continued Pat Sorensen. “They are like a one-stop shop where you have everything you need to run your business. They have so much information and so many people to help you be successful. It’s all in one place so you don’t have to go here for your business plan, and then over there for your marketing plan and then way over there for your financial plan. And when you have a question or just need to bounce ideas off an expert, there they are.”

“We knew it was going to be a lot of work and we were right,” says Gary Sorensen. “But it’s worth it. We start cooking and smoking the meat days in advance, and there’s a ton of prep work. But then there are the events, and they are easy and fun. Besides the many festivals and food truck rodeos we’ve done, we’ve catered an employee appreciation night for 700 at South Lake Hospital and worked for two weeks straight after Hurricane Irma serving the teams from the 200 FEMA trucks stationed here in Lake County.”

“if you’re considering starting a business., or if you’re further along than that and need help,” concluded Pat Sorensen, “the first thing you should do is go to the FSBDC. They have everything you need there, not just to start a business but also to help you to continue to grow. I would definitely recommend the FSBDC to any entrepreneur or business owner.”

NAVA PET's Janel Young with Florida SBDC at UCF's Jill McLaughlin (L-R)

NAVA PETS

Every entrepreneur has a story, one that tells you where their new business idea came from and what ignited their passion to turn that idea into a going concern and then into a success. Most will also tell you that they couldn’t have done it alone; one of those is Janel Young, founder and CEO of NAVA PETS, a natural, organic pet food and products manufacturer.

Young has a wonderful story to tell. It begins with “Maxie”, her sweet and beloved little dog. Maxie was constantly beleaguered with irritated skin caused by food and skin allergies; she almost died from a severe reaction to traditional flea/tick prevention shampoo. And so Janel Young went to work to help her dog. In 2011, after months of trial and error, she successfully created an organic dry shampoo powder, natural treats and food to relieve Maxie’s skin condition and supplement her health and wellbeing!

When Young’s animal-loving friends saw Maxie’s transformation, they asked for the products to help their pets. It was then that Janel Young knew that she was on to something. Starting modestly, she began doing the rounds of the local farmers’ markets. She entered new business pitch competitions, and won! She also received national recognition as an entrepreneur, being named a Torey Burch Fellow and winning a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Award.

Young is quick to say that she hasn’t done it alone, though. She credits her team at NAVA PETS as well as her consultants at the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and many others. “My journey with the FSBDC began when I needed advisement on a huge retail contract,” recalls Young. “It was an important growth step for my company and I wanted their assistance.” Young proceeded to take advantage of the FSBDC’s no-cost business consulting, workshops, PTAC (Procurement Technical Assistance Center) services and the Small Business Institute® program.

“I have been very fortunate to team with people like Jill McLaughlin and Steve South at the FSBDC.  (McLaughlin is an FSBDC consultant; South is a PTAC specialist). They have been like an extended family for NAVA PETS,” says Young. “They’ve really been in my corner in helping the business grow and providing me feedback in areas that need improvement.” Among the specific ways in which the FSBDC has helped NAVA PETS include developing a B2B, commercial sales strategy; looking at opportunities in international export markets; and branding, pricing and operations analysis and planning.

From its modest beginning at local farmers’ markets, NAVA PETS has come a long way. The company has grown to 10 employees; it is transitioning into a new, larger manufacturing facility; it is now being sold in Walmart, Lucky’s Market, and Albertson’s as well as on Amazon; and it has seen its revenues grow by over 2000% over the past 3 years. Maxie would be proud.

“Teaming up with the FSBDC is a phenomenal opportunity,” concluded Young. “I would highly recommend them. You can’t start and run a business without a team and the FSBDC is your extended team. It’s helped make NAVA PETS the success story it is today.”

For information about NAVA PETS, please visit https://navapets.com/ .

FSBDC - Lake County Area Manager Eddie Hill with Citrus Hearing Clinic's Dr. Laura Bradley Pratesi, AuD

Citrus Hearing Clinic

Citrus Hearing Clinic is a small business located in Clermont, Florida whose owner and Doctor of Audiology, Dr. Laura Bradley Pratesi, prides herself on working in the community where she, her friends, and family live and socialize.

Dr. Laura Bradley Pratesi showing Eddie Hill audiology tests she uses for her clients

Dr. Laura Bradley Pratesi showing Eddie Hill audiology tests she uses for her clients

Founded by Dr. Pratesi, hearing impaired and a hearing aid user herself, Citrus Hearing Clinic aims to be a full-service audiology practice specializing in aural rehabilitation, balance therapy, pediatric testing, and patient education. They like to say, “We listen. You hear.”

“No one in the area was offering my services so I saw an underserved market in my own backyard,” Dr. Pratesi remarked. “Now I am working with local physicians, treating our shared patients and coordinating their care closely with those doctors, which is all important. Thanks to this community, I’ve become successful in my new office.”

Although enjoying a warm reception in Clermont, there were challenges faced by Dr. Pratesi on the road to opening her clinic. For many of those, she turned to the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida’s (FSBDC at UCF) Lake County office and its Area Manager and consultant Eddie Hill.

“I’m an expert in audiology but I’m not an expert in business,’ Dr. Pratesi recalls. “I know a lot of businesses don’t do well in the first few years. I didn’t want to be one of those; I wanted to be successful. For me it wasn’t just getting to practice audiology, it was also about learning to run a profitable business.”

And that’s what Dr. Pratesi did. She used the FSBDC’s market research services to conduct a risk analysis of the area. She attended the FSBDC’s online seminars to sharpen her financial and marketing skills. And she took advantage of the FSBDC’s no-cost, expert business consulting by meeting with Eddie Hill.

“Eddie was very helpful in developing a business plan and getting it ready to take to a bank,”says Dr. Pratesi. “I’d gone to a couple of my own banks and been rejected. They wanted me to put up my home as collateral and that made me nervous. But Eddie helped me find a local bank that would make a business loan to me.”

“And that was important to me. I liked getting a loan from a bank and not a particular hearing aid manufacturer, like many audiology businesses do,” continued Dr. Pratesi. “It means I am able to work with all the different manufacturers and free to always choose the best product for my patients. As someone with a hearing impairment, I have been in my patients’ shoes. I really like that I can help make the best, most well-informed decisions about their hearing and balance health care.”

“The FSBDC has been a wonderful resource. My experience with them has been overwhelmingly positive,“ Dr. Pratesi concluded.  “They helped me find a local bank who made me a loan that helped get me started. It was important to me to be independently owned and operated and I was able to do that because of the FSBDC.”

JBoFitness

JBoFitness

Owning and running a small business isn’t easy. In fact, there are some who say that it’s the toughest job you’ll ever have. At the same time, there are immense rewards in business ownership like professional independence, personal satisfaction and financial opportunity, not to mention fulfilling a dream. Fortunately, there are people and organizations who are dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and small business owners start, grow and succeed.

Johnny Bonilla had a dream to start and run his own business five years ago. And that’s what he has done and is doing. Today he is the founder and owner of JBoFitness in Kissimmee, FL, a group training facility that takes personal training and applies it in a group setting. Dedicated to building strength and conditioning, JBoFitness guides clients in a significant workout that takes the guesswork out of physical fitness and gets results.

Bonilla will be the first to tell you that he hasn’t done it alone. Along with his wife Raquel, he is assisted by the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC) of Osceola County and its Area Manager Rafael E. M. Pratts. Bonilla has taken advantage of all of the FSBDC’s core services: its no-cost consulting, business training and access to marketing databases.

“My experience with the FSBDC has been great,” says Bonilla. “I have been able to pick up vital information from their seminars. And the thing I particularly like is Rafael’s consulting. I never feel uncomfortable about reaching out to him. From helping with strategies for my business, to dealing with taxes, to answering important questions that I know are going to affect my business and help it grow, he’s always there to help.”

“A lot of people get intimidated when they have questions,” remarked Raquel Bonilla. “But the FSBDC isn’t that way. They are so welcoming, so friendly, so knowledgeable. It made us comfortable to be working with them. That’s why we have continued with them for so long. They make it easy.”

“Starting a business and running a business can be scary,” added Johnny Bonilla. “You don’t always know what to do.  To have the FSBDC there to give you ideas, to help you set goals, to hold you accountable, to have that support system is what stands out for me. In business you don’t have a lot of people to turn to but you always have the FSBDC there for you. I love it and wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

With the help of the FSBDC, Bonilla and JBoFitness have enjoyed impressive success. “Since starting with the FSBDC, we’ve had massive growth,” concluded Bonilla. “From our modest start in the courtyard of a local church in 2013, JBoFitness grew into a 1000 sq. ft. space and then in 2017 moved into its current 2750 sq. ft. training facility. Starting out, JBoFitness had 7 clients; today we serve approximately 150. It’s been a lot of work, but also a great ride and fun. We’re going to continue with the FSBDC. They have done a great job with us.”