Businesses across the country were put to the test when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and Kissimmee Produce La Chiquita was no exception. Fortunately, company president and CEO Vitor Cortes had the good sense and determination to act quickly and seek help, which he found at the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) in the form of its Business Recovery Team service.
Kissimmee Produce La Chiquita is a neighborhood meat and produce store specializing in Latin foods located in the Greater Orlando hospitality corridor. The company prides itself in offering high quality products without the high prices and is always striving to make the customer experience as easy and pleasant as possible. “Every morning we wake up early and work hard so that you have a clean, tidy, organized store with fresh produce, quality brands, lower prices, wide variety and the best service to earn your loyalty” is what Vitor Cortes promises his customers.
Business was good until the pandemic put a halt to normal life. “Our business was hit by the downturn caused by COVID,” Cortes explains, “and especially hard because we are located in Orlando’s tourist corridor. Almost immediately, we started looking for help to keep our business open.”
Cortes found that assistance at the FSBDC where he benefitted from its no-cost consulting services, business training, market research support, and by participating in its Business Recovery Team (BRT) service. Designed by the FSBDC at UCF to help companies develop and implement customized business strategies to assist in their recovery after the disruptions of COVID-19 and to build sustainability thereafter, the BRT service was created to help clients realign their business models and adapt to a new environment.
In the case of Kissimmee Produce La Chiquita, a team of FSBDC consultants led by consultant Pauline Davis collaborated with Cortes to launch a customer advisory board, rebrand his business, enhance his website, expand his social media presence and redesign and renovate his store. On the finance side, the BRT conducted a financial analysis and created a plan to negotiate lower rent for his location. Most importantly, with the help of the FSBDC’s government contracting affiliate, the Florida PTAC at UCF, the company won a major contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Once we established our connection with the FSBDC, the Business Recovery Team helped us a lot with their consulting, thinking about how to pivot our business and finding different ways to generate income, including government contracts,” Cortes states. “We had to think outside the box, and they helped us do that. We created a new venture inside our existing business and are now a federal government provider and that’s going to generate 25 new positions at our company and in our community.”
“The FSBDC – their consultants, their team – not only helped us to recover but they are now helping us maintain and grow our business,” concludes Cortes. “I am very grateful. They have different people from different cultures that bring different perspectives. They helped us see what we were not seeing.”
For information about Kissimmee Produce La Chiquita, please visit La Chiquita Kissimmee Produce | Los Mejores Precios (kissimmee-produce.com).