Small business owners will often admit, when they are being brutally honest, that running a company can be a lonely undertaking. After all, when you are up against the daily challenges of satisfying customers, motivating employees, and outperforming competitors, no one at the office or at home wants to hear about your worries. It would only scare them. What to do?
For Mark Smith, founder and president of Outsource Equipment Company, a materials handling equipment distributor, the answer was found in two programs offered to second-stage companies by the Florida Small Business Development Center at The University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF): the Advisory Board Council (ABC) and the CEO XChange, both of which surrounded Smith with multiple knowledgeable and expert voices to coach him forward.
Outsource Equipment Company (OEC) provides material handling equipment and solutions for warehouses, distribution centers, and even the factory floor. The company offers both new and used equipment from the finest manufacturers, and it engineers results that save customers time, money, and space. Specialties include vertical lift modules, conveyers, pallet rack and shelving, mezzanine systems and much more. “We specialize in just vertical storage systems,” Smith explains, “so we have gotten very good at it. It’s a niche that we’re very happy to be the best in.”
As a client of the FSBDC at UCF, Smith had benefited from its no-cost, expert consulting; business training; and market research services. Through these resources, he learned about the FSBDC’s award winning ABC and CEO Exchange programs and signed up. The FSBDC at UCF’s Advisory Board Council, led by FSBDC Associate Director Jill Kaufman, provides no-cost, customized boards of volunteer experts specially selected to address the specific needs of the FSBDC client by providing advice and counsel to help the business grow. CEO XChange is an executive roundtable program serving progressive chief executives and business owners in Central Florida. Facilitated by FSBDC consultant Hal Thayer, it offers a confidential setting for top executives to discuss vital business issues, opportunities, and trends with a group of peers and provides opportunities to broaden their business perspectives and gain new knowledge by engaging in collaborative thinking and problem-solving.
“What I like about the CEO XChange is I get to hear from a lot of different CEOs from different companies in different industries with different ways of doing business with different kinds of customers,” remarks Smith. “It’s really helpful to me to get a well-rounded approach to doing business well.” Continuing, Smith recalls, “As a member of the CEO XChange, I noticed other companies in the group who had been in the Advisory Board Council program, and they seemed to be doing really well. I applied and was accepted. Once involved, it really helped us to get direction, to focus on what we are good at, and to get some financing. Acting on what we learned from the ABC advisors made us a much more solid business.”
“The FSBDC, CEO XChange, and the Advisory Board Council, and what I have learned from them, has had real positive effects on our business,” Smith concluded. “2022 was our best year ever, about 50% over what we did in 2021. We were able to do that by listening to other people on the CEO XChange and doing what was suggested by the Advisory Board Council, and just seeing it through. I would highly recommend any CEO to join the CEO XChange and look into the Advisory Board Council.”
For information about Outsource Equipment Company, please visit www.osequip.com .