Kings Service Solutions

Kings Service Solutions

No small business or entrepreneurial venture is guaranteed success.  The obstacles and challenges are innumerable, and the dedication and work required is not to be underestimated. What can make a success story truly remarkable, however, is ‘how’ it was achieved. There is evidence, in fact, that the most profitable companies in America are the ones who connect what they do with a greater  good. There’s also a saying that applies: “A good company makes a profit; a great company makes a difference.”

For Yanet Herrero, the Chief Servant Officer of Kings Service Solutions, the company’s achievements are all about the ‘how’. By focusing herself and her organization on meaningfully serving others including customers, employees, partners, and the community, Herrero has built a trust-based commercial cleaning powerhouse headquartered in Orlando, Fl. Working with her and her team, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is proud to have contributed to their success.

“Our product is trust,” shared Herrero, “and our core values are our DNA. “We start with Integrity – we do the right thing even when no one is looking. We prize our Consistency – in our processes, our people, and our performance. Harmony is central to us – we do things with joy, as a unit, as one team. We embody the spirit of Excellence and constantly strive to deliver nothing less. And last, but not least, we live in Gratitude. We’re grateful for the opportunity to serve others, to create new jobs, to be part of the economic development conversation and positively impact our community.”

Kings Service Solutions began working with the Florida SBDC at UCF and its Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) government contracting affiliate, now called Florida APEX Accelerator at UCF, in 2010. At the time, the company had a staff of 6 full time and 37 part time employees and leased a 1,700 sq. ft. office. With the help of the FSBDC’s no-cost consulting services and its Advisory Board Council program, over time they established an effective organizational structure and refined their systems, resulting in enhanced financial management, Human Resources policies, quality control, and risk management – all driving the company’s growth.

The company utilized Florida APEX services to assist in connecting with key government agencies and prime contractors, leading them to secure contracts with Lockheed Martin, Walt Disney World, and others. Having an established foundation, Kings Service Solutions recently accessed significant capital infusions including a PPP Loan and its forgiveness during Covid, an Employee Retention Tax Credit, and a Small Business Administration 504 loan to purchase their new 13,000 sq. ft. headquarters. Today, along with that new headquarters, Kings Service Solutions has over 700 employees, revenues in the many millions, and ever-increasing profits.

“My experience with the FSBDC has been an incredible journey,” Herrero affirms. “I remember walking into their offices shaking, wondering whether or not our organization would be good enough to apply to receive their amazing resources and be selected for such support. I also remember being reassured immediately and was convinced that this is the right place if you want to see your organization grow, if you want to develop new strategies, if you want the best of the best, the experts to guide you. It was with that level of intentionality that we have become who we are today and we are just so grateful for that. One of our greatest responsibilities is understanding what is our impact and influence in our community, and the FSBDC helped us realize that.”

Not surprisingly given Herrero’s and her company’s commitment to serving her community – whether by annually sponsoring and partnering with a nonprofit, or enabling broad-based employee volunteering activities; its company culture of helping and serving; and its outstanding business results – Yanet Herrero has received national recognition from multiple organizations. This year, the Florida SBDC at UCF nominated her for the most prestigious state small business award possible: the 2024 SBA State of Florida Small Business Person of the Year – and she won! It is a well-deserved reward for defining success as being about serving others, making Kings Service Solutions’ accomplishments, and ‘how’ they were and are achieved, even more laudable and extraordinary.

For information about Kings Service Solutions, please visit https://kingsservicesolutions.com/ .

Acai Express

Acai Express Osceola Parkway

Nurturing an idea into a profitable business is an entrepreneur’s dream. Turning that dream into a reality can be as challenging as it sounds, however, especially on your own. Sisters Peggy Dawas, Kattia Dawas and Katty Velez wanted to open their own business together but didn’t know how to begin. Fortunately, Peggy recalled her experience working with the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its office in Osceola County, FL, so they turned there for guidance. Today, they are glad they did, having become the proud owners of a very successfully launched Acai Express franchise at East Osceola Parkway in Kissimmee.

At Acai Express, the mission is to serve the best tasting, highest quality superfood bowls that go hand- in-hand with a lifestyle based around health and fun. “Our main ingredient is Acai,” describes Peggy Dawas, “a premium, Grade A, 100% organic fruit. It has a lot of flavor on its own, pure form at the same time it is healthy. Who can beat that? It’s what makes us different from all the rest.”

Acai Express’ menu is varied. “We have Acai Bowls of all types. Our top seller is the Valentine Bowl with Acai, granola, banana, strawberry, coconut oil, coconut flakes, and Nutella. It’s delicious and an explosion of flavors. It’s so good!” Peggy continued, with Katty adding “it’s everyone’s favorite” and Kattia chiming in “actually it’s my favorite too.” Other menu items include mango-based dragon fruit, artisan toast, coffee, Pikole premium popsicles, and lemonades.

“We sought assistance from the FSBDC because we had an idea and always wanted to own our own business. It was something we always talked about,” explains Katty Velez. “Peggy previously worked with FSBDC consultant Elly Membreno and said that ‘Elly can help us, can guide us, can give us all the information we need’ and that’s when we contacted her.”

“Our experience with the FSBDC was great,” Peggy shared. “They helped us with their consulting, with their training, with getting us all the tools we needed.” Jairo Batista, a second FSBDC consultant and its digital marketing expert, was brought in to assist with marketing. “We didn’t know where to start so he guided us on that aspect as well so we can promote our business,” Katty added.

Obtaining an SBA-guaranteed loan was critical to the sisters purchasing their Acai Express franchise, and the FSBDC assisted with that as well. “For us, what was a lot of help from the FSBDC was everything to do with the loan,” recalls Kattia Dawas. They helped us put together our loan package, from the business plan to the marketing plan, the financial information, everything, all the documents we needed. We had no clue at all how to do it and they helped us every single step to have the loan approved.”

Acai Express Osceola Parkway opened October 6. They reached break-even after three months, have hired eight employees, and sales continue to increase. “The feedback we have from our customers is amazing. Our plan for the future is to open a second store and also a third,” gushed Katty. ”Of course, we’re going to stick with the assistance from the FSBDC again,” she concluded, with Kattia and Peggy happily saying “yes” to that plan.

For information about Acai Express Osceola, please visit https://www.instagram.com/acaiexpress_osceolaparkway/

Drummond Carpenter

Drummond Carpenter

Risk and uncertainty are hazards that every entrepreneur and prospective small business owner faces as they start their journey to realizing their vision and building the company that will achieve their goals. A bulwark against those challenges includes expert advisors and mentors who can guide, reassure, and build an entrepreneur’s or business owner’s confidence in their decisions. Chad Drummond, co-founder, president, and CEO of engineering firm Drummond Carpenter found exactly that kind of support and the assistance he needed to start and grow his company at the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida’s (FSBDC at UCF) sub-center at Seminole State College (FSBDC at SSC).

Drummond Carpenter is a service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) specializing in civil and environmental engineering. The firm serves clients across the nation including NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as well as various municipalities across the Midwest and in Central Florida, including the City of Orlando and Orange County. “What makes Drummond Carpenter special is truly its people,’ explains Drummond. “We have an incredible, very talented technical staff – many with advanced degrees – that are 100% focused on serving our clients and working as a team.”

“Our journey with the FSBDC started a year prior to us forming the company,” Drummond recalls. “I had my first meeting with Hunt Dawkins (FSBDC at SSC consultant and sub-center director) in 2015. We talked about a business plan, then developed one for what would be a successful engineering firm in Central Florida. I personally, with Don Carpenter, our co-founder, attended various webinars and in-person training to learn more about the business process. We spent a lot of time talking with Hunt about the financials, various accounting issues, how to handle payroll. Our interaction with the FSBDC was all really helpful to get the foundation for the firm set.”

“On a personal level, one of the things I really liked about the FSBDC is that you have access to business professionals, experts who are also regular people, that just want to see you succeed and help you grow,” Drummond continued. “You can sit down with these people, have a very comfortable, confidential conversation, and lay everything out on the table so you can get the best advice from their decades of experience.”

“One significant benefit that came from working with the FSBDC was it gave us the confidence, and also the tools, to grow,” Drummond comments. “Starting in 2016, we were just two co-founders working out of their houses. Today we have three offices across the country. We recently won a contract with the Veterans Administration worth over $5 million. Our staff has grown to almost 30 employees. And over the past couple of years our growth has reached levels of 40% and then 80%.”

“If I had to pick one word to describe my relationship with the FSBDC, it would be ‘navigator’,” concludes Drummond. “They’ve really helped me from before starting the company through to where we are now. They helped me navigate the process of being a small business trying to grow into a larger business. It’s been almost like our North Star, and has really benefited me, my company, and my employees.”

For information about Drummond Carpenter, please visit https://www.drummondcarpenter.com/.

Loretta Josephine

Loretta Josephine

Grit, determination, and resilience are some of the important attributes needed to be a successful entrepreneur. They are also the qualities required when grappling with a life-threatening disease. Brain cancer survivor and small business founder Danielle McCarthy has all three of these traits in abundance, as well as a contagious optimism. Not only did she beat the disease, but she used those same virtues to launch Loretta Josephine Boutique with partner and owner Joey Perfito. And with a small touch of similarity to how she relied on her medical team to help her through her treatment and recovery, she turned to the team at the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) to help start her business. While the FSBDC certainly was not lifesaving, it may have been business saving by providing the expertise and tools McCarthy and Perfito needed to build their new business.

Loretta Josephine Boutique is an online and pop-up store for women specializing in stylish and unique clothing, candles, and accessories. “What makes Lorretta Josephine Boutique special and standout,” explains McCarthy, “is we hand pick our products from women-owned businesses that offer sustainably produced products and are made in the USA. And with every sale, we give back a portion of our earnings to neuroscience research and pet rescue”. “We also noticed that a lot of online boutiques don’t focus on customer service,” added Perfito. “Both Danielle and I have a background in that, so we make sure we offer great support and service to all of our customers.”

The Loretta Josephine name has a meaningful story behind it. Instead of calling her brain tumor “the tumor” or “Cancer”, Danielle and a friend named it “Loretta”. Later, and coincidently, she found and adopted a rescue dog named “Loretta” at birth, and that sealed it. The “Josephine” came from Joey’s given name Joseph, as a tribute to Joey for always being Danielle’s rock and strength through her treatment, the business start and on to today. And so, the ‘Loretta Josephine Boutique’ name was born.

Before she opened the Loretta Josephine Boutique, McCarthy talked to friends about where to find guidance and assistance. “I reached out to a business owner friend in Las Vegas,” she recalls, “and she pointed out that the SBDC in her area was the biggest help to her. So, thanks to her – Thank you, Mandy! – we found the biggest blessing that’s helped us in our journey: the Florida SBDC! Starting a small business, or starting anything, is hard but the FSBDC offers so much to help us grow our small business: no cost, one-on-one coaching; webinars; analytics; market research,” continued McCarthy. “It’s exactly what we needed.

“And working with the FSBDC has been great” affirms McCarthy. With FSBDC consultant Sharon Smith at hers and Perfito’s sides, “it was like we met a lifelong friend,” shares McCarthy. “She has given us tools and her guidance has been top-notch phenomenal. We have been able to grow our business and our customer base, and people are really responding to us. I can’t say anything but great things about the SBDC. They have been with us throughout our journey, and Sharon is amazing.”

Best of all, with thanks to McCarthy’s grit, determination, and resilience; Perfito’s support of and belief in Danielle; and the FSBDC’s assistance, Lorretta Josephine Boutique has thrived. “We’ve seen big changes since we first started working with the SBDC,” remarked Perfito. “Number one is our boutique pop-up events went from 1-2 a month to 5-6. We’re seeing repeat customers. And we’ve been given the tools by the SBDC to improve our website traffic and sales.”

“If you’re an entrepreneur, I would highly recommend starting out at your local SBDC and to have them help and guide you,” concludes McCarthy. “It has been the biggest blessing for us. We have been able to surpass things we never thought we could do. That we are sitting here now and enjoying success is a testament to what the SBDC can do for you.”

For information about Loretta Josephine Boutique, please visit https://www.lorettajosephine.com/.

Avant Dental Group

Avant Dental Group

Helping entrepreneurs turn their dream of small business ownership into a reality is an imperative for the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF). When dentist Margarita Romero decided that the time had come for her to realize her vision of owning her own dental office, she knew she would be starting from scratch. Her first steps would be to determine the best location for her new practice, decide whether to build, buy, or lease an office space, and to evaluate the kinds of properties that were available. Certainly, a tall order. After describing her ideas and plans to her banker, he referred Dr. Romero to the FSBDC at UCF to assist her in her quest.

With more than 10 years of experience as a dentist in her native Peru, and more recently 6 years practicing in the United States, Dr. Romero certainly had the knowledge and expertise needed to build a successful dental practice wherever she might wish. Working with the FSBDC, she arrived at several requisites to be met to realize her goal of launching a dental clinic serving the Hispanic community and offering high-quality dental services for the entire family. From cleanings and whitening to orthodontic and endodontic treatments, she envisioned a team of highly trained professionals to help you, as she likes to say, “achieve the smile you’ve always wanted.” “For us, it is very important to treat the patient like family,” Dr. Romero shares, “and not as just a simple patient.”

In addition to being an experienced and caring dentist, Dr. Romero is a savvy businesswoman. She decided early on that there were three requirements the location of her new business must possess: one, that it be in close proximity to her home and community; two, that it be in an area that was experiencing population growth; and three, that it not already have a heavy density of existing dental offices. With those criteria established, the FSBDC set to work conducting market research to identify potential locations and opportunities for the soon-to-be dental clinic. Using expansive market data resources, the FSBDC investigated possible options by zip codes, local demographics, available dental practices in Central Florida, and more.

“After I started with the FSBDC, they did all the studies of the area and identified where the best area was for me,” recalls Dr. Romero. “After that, we started looking for the dental office itself and continued with the loan process with the bank. The first step was the bank recommending the FSBDC, then they did the research and gave me all the information, and then we found the right office, obtained our loan, and opened our clinic,” she explained.

“My personal experience with the FSBDC was wonderful,” Dr. Romero affirms. “I’m very, very happy because they gave me all the help I needed.” Avant Dental Group has now been open for a year in Kissimmee, FL and the practice is growing. Most recently, consultant Rafael E. M. Pratts, the area manager for the FSBDC at UCF’s Osceola County office, has been helping Dr. Romero with planning and implementing her marketing and business development plans, as well as introducing her to local organizations and business networks. Dr. Romero is seeing her dream of owning her own dental practice come true, and the FSBDC is proud it was able to complement her vision and passion and to help make business ownership happen for her through consulting, market research, and assistance securing needed funds.

For information about Avant Dental Clinic, please visit https://avantdentalgroup.com/.

Red Rooster Cookie Jar

Red Rooster Cookie Jar

Making the move from even a successful home-based business into a brick-and-mortar, commercial space can present a major challenge for any entrepreneur or small business owner. There is a business plan to revise, a location to find, a landlord to negotiate with, permits to be acquired, and much more. And so it was for Yvonne Conti-O’Brien, the founder and culinary genius behind Red Rooster Cookie Jar, a unique and now prized bakery in Lady Lake, Fl, when she decided to take the risk and make the leap. Fortunately for her, early in the process she turned to the Sumter County office of the Florida Small Business Development Center at UCF (FSBDC at UCF). It made all the difference.

Red Rooster Cookie Jar is no ordinary bakery and Yvonne Conti-O’Brien is no ordinary baker. Specializing in a wide variety of delicious cookies and other treats, this small, hometown bakery makes everything from scratch, hand stirred and, according to Yvonne, packed with “a whole lot of love”. With an owner who is a resident of The Villages and active in the local community, Red Rooster is locally owned and sources its ingredients fresh from local businesses and farmers. There are no bakeries within a 40-minute radius that provide anything like what Red Rooster has to share with its community. With over 100 cookie recipes, and a special and different “cookie of the week”, Red Rooster’s business recipe of fresh ingredients, friendly service, and love allows the company to crow that it offers the “best treats you will ever put in your mouth. We guarantee it.”

After a career as a middle school Spanish teacher, Conti-O’Brien founded Red Rooster in 2018, baking from her home. Business was good selling at farmers’ markets and fairs, but space limitations began to infringe on the company’s growth. When she began searching for a commercial property, her real estate agent raved about the assistance she could get from the FSBDC. “I am just so grateful to him that he suggested it,” Conti-O’Brien recalls, “because I didn’t know where I was going to get the help I knew I needed.”

Working with her consultant Jamie Mead, the Sumter County area manager for the FSBDC, Conti-O’Brien received assistance with understanding her lease, obtaining necessary permits, completing Florida Department of Agriculture filings, reviewing financial projections, and going over her revised business plan. “Everything from A to Z, you name it business wise, Jamie helped me through the whole process,” she shares today. “It just made things so much easier for me, so much easier to understand because I knew I could trust her, that she was going to help me and get me through, that she had my back. I would not be sitting here right now or even be in my shop if it wasn’t for the FSBDC’s and Jamie’s help.”

Red Rooster Cookie Jar celebrated its grand opening in November. Customers were three deep at the counter and the line was out the door, and business has stayed strong. “We are selling out all the time,” Conti-O’Brien says proudly. “We have a constant flow of customers coming through the doors. It’s just been wonderful.”

“The SBDC helped me so much,” Conti-O’Brien concluded. “When I was working out of my house, I was very limited, especially in the space I had for production. Being able to get a commercial space has helped me not only grow our customer base but also our product line. If I didn’t have this space and the SBDC’s help, I would never have been able to realize all of this awesome stuff that’s happening to us. Thank you, Jamie and thank you, FSBDC.”

For information about Red Rooster Cookie Jar, please visit www.rrcookiejar.com.

Tributatries and Clarus

Tributaries and Clarus Audio and Video Cables

With more than 70% of the world’s purchasing power located outside of the U.S., exporting is an increasingly attractive opportunity for small and medium-sized companies. Joe Perfito, founder and owner of Gordon J. Gow Technologies – the company responsible for the design and manufacture of Tributaries and Clarus audio and video cables – had gained some international distribution but was convinced that there was significant untapped potential abroad. To increase the company’s penetration of foreign markets, Perfito turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida’s (FSBDC at UCF) International Trade Services team.

Tributaries is a leading provider of high-performance and high-quality digital & analog audio interconnects, speaker cables, AC power products, and HDMI cables for discriminating audiophiles and cinephiles. Clarus serves the even more selective high-end audiophile market, offering ultimate-performance audio cables, power cables, power conditioners, and digital-to-analog converters (DACS) for the most discerning listening audiences. Combining patented technologies and painstakingly meticulous hand-craftsmanship, Tributaries and Clarus products are designed by music lovers for music lovers and are universally recognized for their quality.

“We design all of the internal parts of our cables and the cosmetics – the jacket, all the conductors and the shielding,” Perfito proudly states. “We have those cables made for us and bring them into Orlando where we do all our own soldering and assembly, packaging and testing. This makes us quite a bit different from our competitors, most of whom have cable from China or the Far East brought into the U.S. where they take it out of one box, put it into another and ship it out. There’s no value added. We do all the assembly, so we know how it’s made. We do all our own quality control as well. As a result, we have cables that outperform any of our competitors.”

“Our company has been selling domestically since 1991,” recalls Perfito, “and we started working with international distributors in the early 2000’s. But we didn’t have as many as I would like, even though I knew we had the products that would sell in countries around the world. When I learned about the FSBDC, I said ‘Wow, they have a lot to offer small businesses, including in the area of exporting and international distribution, and we began working with them to help us develop some of the foreign markets.”

Together with FSBDC International Trade Services program manager Jill McLaughlin and consultant Rafael Pratts, Perfito set about to further expand globally. First, Pratts prepared a customized Export Marketing Plan, available in partnership with the U.S. Commercial Service and funded by a grant offered by Enterprise Florida, now SelectFlorida, to assist qualified Florida manufacturers and service providers with identifying overseas growth strategies. Such Export Marketing Plans provide comprehensive industry and market analyses and identify promising new foreign markets and provide a go-to-market strategy for each. Next, McLaughlin assisted the company with obtaining State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Grants to reimburse certain travel expenses, thereby supporting their attendance at international trade shows throughout Europe.

“Because of our partnership with FSBDC and working with them, we were able to improve our international marketing,” Perfito affirms. In fact, because of the Export Marketing Plan and the STEP Grant-funded travel, the company has now secured a new distributor in France and has another in the United Kingdom, with high expectations for one in Germany as well. “I would strongly encourage other small business owners like myself to contact the FSBDC and to take advantage of the services and programs they have to offer. It would be a huge benefit for them, as it was for us.”

For information about Gordon J. Gow Technologies and its Tributaries and Clarus lines, please visit www.tributariescable.com  or www.claruscable.com.

The Viera Studio

The Viera Studio

The COVID epidemic threw a lot of curve balls at nearly every small business, and those involved in the arts and cultural activities were no exception. Reinvention and sometimes even a fight for survival were the order of the day. Monica Toro Lisciandro, founder of The Viera Studio for the Performing Arts and director of the Black Box Theatre Programme, recognized immediately that the pandemic was taking a toll on her organization and turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at Eastern Florida State College (FSBDC at EFSC), a subcenter of the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF).

At the Viera Studio for the Performing Arts, they pride themselves on building confidence, creativity, and fun! Professional entertainers hold events and workshops year-round for all ages, including cabarets, showcases, and special one-night engagements. They like to say, “When you’re here, the fun never ends.” Through their programs, students can explore various aspects of theater including acting, singing, dancing, stage design, and production. Experienced and highly trained instructors guide them through every step of the process, from auditions to rehearsals to final performances.

“The Viera Studio is a special place to be because of the magic that our families and our students bring,” Monica Lisciandro states proudly. “All of our students and our families are uplifted. When our kids come in, they feel like they are supported and they’re seen, they’re heard, and they’re valued. Because of that, they’re able to excel and feel like they can be confident and truly be themselves.”

“I sought out guidance from the FSBDC because, after COVID, we really needed to pivot for our business,” recalls Lisciandro. “We needed the guidance and the support of the FSBDC and their knowledge in order to be able to move forward and continue our business and continue to be successful in the times we were facing.”

Working with FSBDC at EFSC sub-center director and consultant Robin Braswell and others, Lisciandro took advantage of the full spectrum of the FSBDC’s services: no-cost, expert consulting; business training workshops, seminars and webinars; and access to deep and broad market research databases and resources. “My journey with the FSBDC has been excellent,” Lisciandro affirms. “I’ve been able to consult with Robin about my business. I’ve received data about our marketing, about our website. I’ve been able to access a plethora of trainings that have helped me be able to develop and take my business onward and upward.”

“The FSBDC has really helped our business grow,” concludes Lisciandro. “Our clientele –students from children to adults – has increased. We have reached out to schools in the community, and they are very interested in partnering with us to bring our programs into their school. We have a bigger reach and are able to offer the arts programs to not only the kids who come to our studio but also to the community. My personal experience working with the FSBDC has been excellent. For anyone that’s considering working with them, I would highly recommend it.”

For information about The Viera Studio for the Performing Arts, please visit https://thevierastudio.com/.

Nakiesa Photography

Nakiesa’s Photography

For many aspiring entrepreneurs with a compelling dream or exciting new idea, the first question is often, ‘Where do I start?” Building a firm foundation, managing start up risks, and launching with confidence and clarity are integral steps to establishing and growing a thriving business. Nakiesa Faraji-Tajrishi was a recent University of Central Florida graduate when she began contemplating starting her own venture, Nakiesa’s Photography. She turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for assistance.

Nakiesa’s Photography isn’t your ordinary photo studio. It offers so much more, specifically professional photography and videography focused on serving clients in the luxury/adventure travel and travel-related services. “The product that I offer is social media content creation for travel products, for hotels, for tourism boards,” shares Nakiesa, “as well as general photography services.” She specializes in digital manipulation applying cutting edge software to a combination of drone and handheld photography, resulting in the creation of dynamic and impactful content that captivates people’s attention.

“When I was looking to start my own business, I actually had no idea where to start or what to do,” describes Nakiesa. During an online search, she discovered the Florida SBDC and its ‘How to Start Your Business’ seminar, and she was quickly off and running. “I was really excited about the opportunity to get some advice and seek some counseling from people who had been in the industry and understand the things you need to do to be successful as a small business owner,” she recalls.

Nakiesa committed herself 100 percent to starting her new business on the right footing. “With the Florida SBDC, I have actually come in about every two weeks consistently for the past two years for consulting services with my FSBDC consultant Chuck Wheeler. He’s just been phenomenal. He’s my go-to guy for just about any question I have. And I love that he has experience in the advertising industry which is the same industry that I’m trying to establish my business in.” Highlights of where Wheeler and the FSBDC assisted Nakiesa include its no-cost consulting, access to vast market data and research resources, and digital marketing planning.

“I found the FSBDC to be very warm and welcoming from the get-go,” continues Nakiesa. “When I approached them, I didn’t have a business plan. I didn’t have an LLC. I didn’t have any of those things. I just had questions and from the very beginning they were very friendly, explained everything with patience, and made me feel like it was completely possible and reasonable to start my own business. They held my hand and walked me through all the steps I needed to take in order to become this liberated entrepreneur that I feel I am today. It’s just been fantastic. I cannot recommend their services enough.”

“The success I have seen with my business and the results that I’ve achieved since I started working with the FSBDC have been phenomenal,” Nakiesa concludes. “Every single year since I started with them, I’ve been able to double my income from the previous year. This year I’m on track to double my income again. In just two years of operation, I am profitable and looking forward to expanding my business. I cannot stress enough how valuable the FSBDC has been to me in the creation and growth of my company and I am eternally grateful.”

— FSBDC —

Rolling Greens Landscape

Rolling Green Landscape Solutions

Entrepreneurs often become business owners on the strength of having a “better answer to a customer’s problem.” Even so, most entrepreneurial journeys are replete with challenges for a small business owner to address – frequently without significant experience or business training, and most often without substantial support. Eric Kobb, the founder and owner of Rolling Green Landscape Solutions, faced just that predicament and turned for assistance to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its award-winning Advisory Board Council (ABC) program.

Orlando-based Rolling Green Landscape Solutions provides a full range of landscaping services to high-end residential and commercial clients. What sets it apart is the quality of its people and service, and the superiority of its technology. “The landscape industry is a crowded place,” explains Kobb. “The number one way we differentiate ourselves is through our people. We focus on hiring the best, on training and education, and on retaining them. We’re proud of the number of licensed and certified staff members we have. We also try to be more technologically advanced than most in our industry. It’s all part of making our teams more efficient, to allow us to communicate better with our clients, and overall just do a better job.”

“I have spent my whole life in the landscaping industry, so I have always known my trade,” Kobb points out. “I know my craft and I know how to service my customers. What I didn’t have any experience in was the business side of things: how to set up a business plan; how to have a marketing strategy; how to actually understand and grow our financials. I have seen other businesses flounder without that knowledge and I didn’t want to go down that path so I sought out the FSBDC.”

“When I first met with them, they recommended one of their programs: the Advisory Board Council,” Kobb recalls. Directed by Program Manager Jill Kaufman, each advisory board consists of a customized, no-cost panel of experts providing advice and counsel to help businesses grow. The FSBDC acts as a matchmaker between established local small businesses like Rolling Green Landscape Solutions and area professionals who volunteer their expertise as members of an advisory board, with each advisor purposefully selected to address the specific needs of the FSBDC client.

“We set up a board that would fill the voids in my personal experience,” Kobb states. “We built my board focused on the areas I could improve upon and we went from there. It’s been great. My ABC was pretty awesome in fact.” It included professionals in accounting and finance; Human Resources; advertising, marketing and branding; and banking. “It was really cool to see the different levers that can be pulled in the business world and how you could make yourself more successful and grow as an individual,” Kobb shares.

The FSBDC’s Advisory Board Council really made a difference for Kobb and Rolling Green. “Working with the FSBDC and my Board have been really impactful. It’s been huge,” Kobb concluded. “The results are staggering. Over the three years we have worked with the FSBDC, our profits are up, our revenues are up 139%, our employee count has more than doubled, we have expanded our facility, and we have increased our line of credit by three times (3X). It’s all really helped to position us for the future and for future growth, and I’m super excited about that. The FSBDC opened my eyes to how things are done and I want to thank them and everyone on my Board who helped me.”

For information about Rolling Green Landscape Solutions, please visit http://www.rollinggreenlandscape.com/