First Response Disaster Team Building for the Future With Assistance from FSBDC at UCF

Business Benefits from FSBDC’s Advisory Board Council Program

April 12, 2017

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or

First Response Disaster TeamOrlando, FL – When you look up ‘serial entrepreneurs’ on the Internet, there’s no good reason that you wouldn’t come upon Anne-Marie and Ken Poulin. Over the course of their years together, this wife and husband team has started and sold multiple businesses, most recently launching First Response Disaster Team in 2010.

First Response is an emergency restoration company that is focused primarily on clean up and remediation of flood, mold, fire and smoke damage. Their mission: “We help people through difficult times.” Based in Edgewater, Florida, the business has grown to more than $2 million in annual revenues and employs more than 10 people. And the company is easy to recognize out in the field, what with their sharply dressed technicians, all sporting distinctive bright red bow ties.

It is not the bow ties that set the Poulins and their company apart however. It is their entrepreneurial zeal to constantly look for better ways to run and grow their business. It was that drive to find new strategies to build their business that led the Poulins to the Florida SBDC at UCF and its Advisory Board Council (ABC) program.

The Advisory Board Council is a no-cost board of experts providing advice and counsel to help businesses grow.  Each board is custom designed and assembled by the FSBDC at UCF’s ABC program manager Jill Kaufman. The FSBDC acts as a matchmaker between established local businesses and area professionals who volunteer their expertise as members of an advisory board, with the volunteers selected to address the specific needs of the FSBDC client.

“Jill did such a great job for us,” Ken Poulin remarked. “She and FSBDC handpicked people who had lots of good information about what we are trying to do. They were small business owners like us, folks who had built businesses and sold them. We had an accountant, a banker and even a guy who had been in restoration – our business! – for forty years.”

“We met with our Advisory Board regularly over the course of about two years,” continued Anne-Marie Poulin. “We had a team that we could ask questions of and they’d give us answers. We’ll admit that sometimes those answers weren’t what we wanted to hear. However, they were the answers we needed to hear and therefore all the more valuable. Our ABC meetings created a really significant level of accountability for us that helped us grow our business.”

Working with their Advisory Board Council, the Poulins concentrated on strengthening the foundation of their business. They developed the policies, procedures, checklists and handbooks they needed to expand or “scale” their business, as they like to say. As a result, First Response was able to put processes in place that are driving revenue increases and earning them recognition as one of “Volusia’s Best” businesses.

“The ABC was an amazing experience for us,” concluded Ken Poulin. “We look back on the other businesses we’ve started and only wish we’d come to the FSBDC sooner. We’re just really happy to have them assisting us now.”


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 2015, the FSBDC at UCF served almost 7,000 entrepreneurs in Central Florida through consulting and training, resulting in more than 7,300 jobs created, retained or saved; $990 million in sales growth; $74.4 million in capital formation; $101.7 million in government contract awards; and 111 new businesses started.

About the FSBDC Network

The FSBDC at UCF is a member of the Florida SBDC Network, a statewide service network funded in part through cooperative agreements with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network is hosted by the University of West Florida and is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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.

In 2015, the Florida SBDCs served almost 45,500 entrepreneurs and small business owners through consulting and training, resulting in 217,849 jobs created, retained or saved; $29.3 billion in sales growth; $947.4 million in capital accessed; $2.1 billion in government contract awards; and 3,857 new businesses started.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862 |