Buying a business can be fraught with risks, even if you already work for the company. And that was the case for Valerie Wilson. She and a partner owned Wilson Equipment Etc., a company in the business of selling water filtration systems for food service equipment. The filters perform a crucial function by removing the taste and odor of chlorine from the water used by equipment like ice machines, steamers and soda systems while at the same time reducing or eliminating the amount of scale build-up inside the machines which reduces their efficiency. The partner wanted to sell her half of the company and Valerie was interested.
As she looked at purchasing the business from her partner, removing or at least minimizing the risks in buying were a top priority for Valerie. Questions like “is it the right price?”, “are the cash flows adequate to cover a loan?”, “how do I obtain a loan?”, “am I prepared to run this business alone?” describe the risks she saw that needed answers. Fortunately, Valerie knew where to turn.
Based on her own previous experience, as well as that of her father from years ago, Valerie turned to the Florida SBDC at UCF. Initially she wanted help with producing a business plan, but then the opportunities offered by the FSBDC quickly turned her initial goal into much more. And Valerie couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
“My experience with FSBDC at UCF has been very positive on multiple fronts,” says Valerie. “My FSBDC consultant, Hunt Dawkins, was my cheerleader. He helped me determine a fair value for the company, see opportunities for growth, and find ways to make myself a better business owner. We developed strategies to make the business more profitable and put in place financial controls like budgets and forecasts that made the numbers make more sense for me.”
And the results have been extremely positive. Valerie was able to buy the company. Profits are up at Wilson Equipment Etc. and she has put the company on a consistent growth path. She has found new ways to leverage the fact that hers is a certified woman-owned business. By partnering with a much larger manufacturers rep company who could take advantage of her company’s woman-owned status and who could add her filters to a vast product list that will be put in front of customers that would probably not have found Wilson Equipment Etc otherwise, Valerie has found an important new sales channel for her products.
When asked what she would say to other entrepreneurs and business owners considering seeking assistance from the FSBDC, Valerie didn’t hold back. “The FSBDC is a great resource. Do it. Run to them,” she says. “I myself have referred people to the FSBDC and gotten nothing but great feedback. When I bought the company, my role changed from sales to business owner and it was the FSBDC gave me the business knowledge I needed and taught me how to run a successful business.”