FSBDC, DSC, John Walsh, The Observer

Palm Coast and Ormond Beach Community Newspapers Growing With Assistance from FSBDC at Daytona State

FSBDC at UCF’s Daytona State College Sub-center and Its
CEO XChange Program Contributing to Local Publisher’s Success

May 8, 2017


Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or hthayer@ucf.edu

Orlando, FL – ‘Disruptive innovation’ is a watch word of the technology world, describing the strategic underpinning of some of today’s truly remarkable 21st century businesses, companies like Uber and Airbnb. One doesn’t often apply the concept to newspaper publishing, especially because it’s an industry whose obituary seems to be written daily.

But that’s not the way John Walsh, publisher and an owner of the Palm Coast and Ormond Beach Community Newspapers, saw it. He saw an opportunity in community news: doing hyper-local reporting in targeted communities built on an advertiser-supported business model. “Our mission is to provide our communities with extraordinary local content while helping our partners prosper,” Walsh says.

And apparently it’s ‘mission accomplished’.  Started in 2010, the Observer had a successful launch, was profitable within 3 months and saw revenues on a steep growth curve. There was one problem, however. Walsh noticed that despite an increasing top line, bottom line profitability wasn’t growing. “We weren’t making the money we should have been,” Walsh recalls. “I wanted to know what we were doing wrong and what we were doing right so I could correct that situation.”

That’s when John Walsh turned to the CEO XChange program at the Florida SBDC at Daytona State College, a sub-center of the FSBDC at UCF, and the Center Director and FSBDC consultant George Tewari. The CEO XChange is a facilitated peer-to-peer executive roundtable program serving business leaders and owners that offers a confidential setting to discuss the challenges, threats and opportunities they face as managers and leaders. It enables a group of chief executives to collaborate and work through the issues they all face running small and medium-sized businesses.

“I have had previous good experiences in forums like the CEO XChange, but this one is the best yet,” states Walsh. “I really believe in the value of sharing best practices, learning from others who are smarter than I am, then setting goals and being held accountable for them by those same CEOs. I’ve learned that process trumps talent (mine anyway) and the CEO XChange really helped me direct my focus and implement new processes and procedures. And that has changed my business for the better.”

“Thanks to the CEO XChange and my colleagues there, combined with the consulting support of George Tewari from the FSBDC, we have seen our profitability grow to the industry standard,” Walsh continued. “More importantly, our margins have increased 30 – 40%. Revenues have been growing while at the same time expenses have been managed down. It can all be credited to the FSBDC and CEO XChange.”

“I’d say to any business owner considering the CEO XChange: ‘It takes some guts to participate but it’s worth it. Managing yourself is one thing. But being held accountable to 12 – 13 other business owners – all who are in the same boat you are – holds you to a different level, to a higher standard. I encourage anyone who’s interested in improving their business to join the CEO XChange.”


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
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com