Aero Supply USA of Pinellas County
Michelle Ramirez had never owned a business before, but after working with her husband in a similar industry, she knew there was a growing market for an aerospace hardware business in Pinellas County. So she decided to take a chance and strike out on her own.
Aero Supply USA is a broad line distributor of aerospace hardware able to offer factory pricing and factory-direct contracts. The company specializes in end-of-life parts. Michelle, and her husband Robert, Chief Operating Officer, knew they would need some assistance along the way to grow the business.
“This was my first time starting a business on my own,” Michelle said. “We needed a business plan and I also wanted to get a general idea of what it takes to start a business.” Michelle found the Florida SBDC at Pinellas County Economic Development and started taking low-cost seminars.
“I had some ideas but I wanted to make sure I was on the right path.”
Michelle took seminars covering a wide range of business topics, including Doing Business with the Government, Accounting and Tax Procedures, and Building the Ultimate Business Plan.
After taking Doing Business with the Government, she was recruited into the Women’s Focus Group, started by Yolanda Cowart, a certified business consultant with the Florida SBDC at PCED. “I wanted to work more closely with her,” Cowart said. “She knew what reports were of value to her and she wanted to get the current information to make sure the trend was still moving in that direction.”
Cowart ended up doing additional market research for the business, a value that is not lost on Robert. “These reports can run about $15-20,000,” Robert said. “It’s all market trends. We make a lot of decisions based on intelligence to stay ahead of the competition. Those reports are very beneficial to us.”
Cowart also advised Michelle as to which business certifications would be beneficial when attempting to earn government contracts. The business now holds multiple certifications.
Having now had more than 100 hours of no-cost consulting with the Florida SBDC at PCED, the couple has taken advantage of the services offered, including networking opportunities. “The SBDC has helped us tremendously in networking with other companies, assisting us with attending events and pointing out events that are going to benefit us,” Robert said. “We’re taking advantage of those and have made relationships that are rewarding to the business.”
With a future goal of broadening their customer base and adding a new stream of products, Chief Financial Officer William Tayler, said it’s reasonable to think that in five years, Aero Supply USA could be a $10 million company. “Any time you can diversify your business with products and markets that add synergy, it strengthens your company,” he said.
Moving forward, Michelle intends to continue her relationship with the Florida SBDC at PCED. She says the company will focus on marketing and attracting more Florida businesses, as well as continue to access the research reports that indicate trends.
“It should be a state requirement for anybody who wants to engage in business to learn how the business starts, how to formally create a business plan, and to be able to narrow down your market,” Robert added. “A program like the SBDC is extremely beneficial to someone who wants to be successful in business.”