Reviving a failing business and then leading it to new peaks of success are challenges that are not meant to be taken on alone and without assistance from multiple sources. Balouch “Aleem” Muhammad and Tariq Iqbal wisely recognized these important facts when, in 2012, they purchased Kissimmee Granite & Marble, Inc., a ten year old company that was temporarily shut-down and, shortly after taking it over, reopened with predecessor financing and mentor support. Their goal was simple: to establish Kissimmee Granite & Marble, Inc. as a premiere manufacturer of custom granite countertops for both residential & commercial markets in all of Central Florida.
From the start, the Aleem and Tariq took action to get as much assistance as they could find and, in an effort to be proactive business owner(s), they decided to stop by the Kissimmee / Osceola Chamber of Commerce looking for strategies to help with growth and expansion of their countertop business. Upon arrival, they were quickly plugged-in to the Florida SBDC at UCF Kissimmee office. There they took advantage of the business training, “no-cost” consulting sessions, and business data and information resources available from the FSBDC.
Almost immediately, the FSBDC consultant Rafael Martinez-Pratt started to work with Aleem and Tariq to expand the operations of the business from a 2,000 square feet facility to over a 13,000 SF facility near Kissimmee Gateway Airport. In particular, the FSBDC at UCF Kissimmee office helped Kissimmee Granite & Marble access several economic development incentives from both the City of Kissimmee and Osceola County. As a result, not only did Kissimmee Utility Authority (KUA) provide and install a much needed high voltage transformer, but also Osceola County Economic Development provided additional machine and equipment incentives for capital equipment improvements.
“The FSBDC at UCF partnered with us and helped us in so many ways, including visiting our facilities on different occasions and providing us with insights into a variety of pressing issues throughout the year. The list is endless: a cost/benefit analysis, industry market research, human resources support, aid in securing an additional capital equipment loan, and guiding a new product expansion,” Aleem stated.
As a direct result of the FSBDC’s assistance, an additional $42,000 capital injection occurred which puts the company in a position to post strong revenue growth and make projections that the company will reach the $1 million revenue mark by end of 2014, a 275% sales increase from the previous year.
Today, Aleem and Tariq look back at what seemed to be the insurmountable obstacles they faced together, the early financial insecurities, long hours invested and hard work, as the price to pay to enjoy their current success. And they appreciate those that assisted them, saying “thanks to the FSBDC at UCF for their continued support and unwavering commitment in helping us grow our small business.”