March 21, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Orlando, FL – Craig Caswell and the company he founded and has built into a Central Florida success story – Common Sense Office Furniture — exemplify the best of what it means to be an entrepreneur and small business owner. And this is a special time for Caswell as he celebrates Common Sense’s 20th Anniversary in business.
Success as a small business like that deserves special recognition. And so it is that the Florida SBDC at UCF (FSBDC at UCF) has chosen Caswell and Common Sense Office Furniture as its SBDC Day Company of the Year. Wednesday March 21, 2018 is the second annual SBDC Day, a national movement to help raise awareness about the service offerings and impact of America’s SBDCs –- the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) largest business assistance program.
“For entrepreneurs considering working with the Florida SBDC, I’d say ‘do it faster than I did,” Caswell remarked. “The sooner you can get in and learn the lessons that the FSBDC can teach you, from their services and programs, their consulting and in their classrooms, the sooner you’ll be on firm footing. Their assistance can make a huge difference.”
Like many small business founders, Caswell started his business on his own and grew it on the strength of his determination and skills. But as the business became larger, new, unfamiliar challenges arose. “Fifteen years ago, the business was growing but I was faced with a whole new set of business requirements and needs that I was unfamiliar with, issues like worker’s compensation, warehousing, delivery vehicle investments,” Caswell says. “Help from the FSBDC was the logical solution. They gave me the answers I needed.”
“Once I started working with the FSBDC, my eyes were opened and I understood that for me to continue to grow this business, I couldn’t do it alone, that there were lots of things to consider, to plan for, to prepare for. The Florida SBDC helped me with that, and with recognizing how important it is to share the glory with the people who helped you make it happen because you certainly didn’t do it alone” Caswell went on. “It’s why we have profit sharing and a 401(k) matching program for our employees, because they are the ones who make it happen every day.”
Caswell will tell you that he “took advantage of virtually every service at the FSBDC I could,” starting with its Advisory Board Council program. The Advisory Board Council is a next-level, business support service, assisting established Central Florida businesses by matching them with experienced professionals with a diverse range of skills who work together on a “custom-fit” advisory board.
“My Advisory Board was invaluable,” Caswell states. “The volunteers on my Board were amazing. The FSBDC did a great job matching their background and skills with my company’s needs. Their assistance and insights changed my business.”
A second Florida SBDC service Caswell says has been beneficial is the FSBDC’s CEO XChange, an executive roundtable program that offers a confidential setting for top executives to discuss vital business issues, opportunities and trends with a group of peers. “The CEO XChange has been great,” Caswell claims. “You think you are out there alone, that your problems are uniquely yours. Then you sit down with other business owners at the CEO XChange who have had the same issues and you get ideas, solutions and support. It’s a confidence builder.”
When callers reach out to the company, the response is apt: “Thank you for using Common Sense. How can we help you?” And using common sense is what their clients have been doing. From being located in a modest warehouse, Common Sense Office Furniture has grown into a fabulous showroom downtown. From a handful of employees 20 years ago, the company has grown to more than 20. And from revenues in the thousands, Common Sense has become a multi-million dollar enterprise.
“It’s great knowing that the Florida SBDC at UCF is there to help. I’m pleased to be part of SBDC Day and to be the FSBDC at UCF’s SBDC Day Company of the Year. It’s too bad that the services of the FSBDC aren’t better known. Like me and my company, a lot of businesses could benefit from working with them” Caswell concluded.
— 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 Research & Commercialization and the Florida SBDC Network (FSBDC 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 2016, the FSBDC at UCF served over 2,400 entrepreneurs in Central Florida through consulting and training, resulting in nearly 6,700 jobs created, retained or saved; $980 million in sales growth; $92.7 million in capital formation; $154.6 million in government contract awards; and 120 new businesses started.
About the FSBDC Network
The FSBDC at UCF is a member of the Florida SBDC Network, a statewide partnership program nationally accredited by the Association of America’s SBDCs and funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners, with the University of West Florida serving as the network’s lead host institution. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for limited English proficient individuals. All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the she SBA or other funding partners.
For over 35 years, the FSBDC Network has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development organizations, dedicated to providing emerging and established business owners with management and technical assistance, enabling overall growth and increased profitability for the businesses and economic prosperity for the state. The FSBDC Network is a statewide service system of 41 centers with 60 outreach locations, including the FSBDC at UCF.
Since 2011, Florida SBDCs served almost 75,000 entrepreneurs and small business owners through consulting and training, resulting in 252,955 jobs created, retained or saved; $33.3 billion in sales growth; $1.4 billion in capital accessed; $2.6 billion in government contract awards; and 4,159 new businesses started.