Building your own business can be a monumental undertaking, even if you have had previous success in your industry. And the degree of difficulty increases dramatically when you are a woman whose new company operates in a historically male-dominated world. It’s time like these when business assistance can help, and why Linsy Di Pietro, founder and owner of Warehouse Equipment and Supply, Inc (WES), turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its Kissimmee/Osceola County office for help.
Warehouse Equipment and Supply is in the business of providing material handling and storage racking systems. Di Pietro and her company have as their primary objective to provide customers with quality products at competitive prices, and with service they can depend on. WES offers a full range of warehouse solutions, products, and services including: Racking Systems, shelving, material handling equipment; Forklift and lift equipment, rolling ladders, pallet jacks, safety accessories for racks, forklifts and warehouses, dock equipment, and more. WES also assists in planning additions to a customer’s present racking system with the right equipment or fixtures to blend in for maximum efficiency.
While today WES is a full service and fast-growing company, there were struggles in its early days. After parting ways with a former partner who is now a competitor, Di Pietro knew what she wanted to make happen but was not sure how to do it. “When I originally came to the Florida SBDC, I was kind of lost on where to go, on what direction to follow, about how to help my business grow,” Di Pietro recalls.
“At the SBDC, I found a lot of valuable information and guidance,” she continued. “Their workshops and training, and expert no-cost consulting has helped me bring my business to where it is today.” In fact, FSBDC’s consultant Elly Membreno from its Kissimmee/Osceola County Office assisted her with establishing her business guidelines; obtaining insurance and permitting references; budgeting and finance; hiring and payroll; creating business contracts; and, most recently, marketing, ecommerce, and social media.
“My experience working with the FSBDC has been amazing,” states Di Pietro. “Since I started working with them, I have seen big changes in my business. They encouraged my commitment to great customer service, so I have happy customers and WES’s reputation is strong with many Google Five Star reviews. We have earned an exclusive relationship and become the main distributor of a leading pallet manufacturer. And we have grown so fast that we have already had to move to a larger location. Best of all, not only are we profitable, but we have tripled our gross sales.”
“And all of this is thanks to the SBDC,” concluded Di Pietro, “because of the way they helped, the way they supported me, the way they allowed me to see how important it was to be serious and focused on my business. If you have the opportunity to work with the SBDC, I can tell you: do not lose that opportunity!”