Babe’s Plumbing, Inc. of Sarasota County
Babe’s Plumbing, Inc. has a long history of success in Sarasota County. Started in 1957 by Maurice “Babe” Dalton, the family-owned and operated small business has been a staple in the community ever since.
Even so, Babe’s son, Joe Dalton, and grandchildren, are looking to continue to grow, with assistance from the Florida SBDC at USF Sarasota-Manatee.
Granddaughter and Marketing Director, Sarah Willis, left her teaching position to join the family business approximately one year ago. Due to her teaching background, she knew the importance of continuing to learn, so that’s what she set out to do.
“I started taking some classes at the Tampa office and going to the Lunch and Learn Series at the North Port office,” Willis said. The Lunch and Learn Series is a no-cost seminar series held March through November each year at the USF North Port Instructional Site. Topics and speakers vary throughout the year.
While attending one of the seminars, Willis was introduced to Dr. Anita Rose, a certified business consultant with the FSBDC at USF Sarasota-Manatee. Rose specializes in Growth Acceleration Services.
“I had gotten a lot of information out of the classes,” Willis said, “and wanted to take what I had learned in the classes and apply it specifically to our business. I felt like the Growth Acceleration Service would take what I had learned and really help me implement it.”
Rose completed an in-depth business assessment and competitive analysis. “I had done the initial report mainly geared towards the financial elements of the business,” Rose said. “That report revealed some money left on the table with inventory control so the focus is now to get a better handle on that. Joe [Teston, certified business consultant] is working on that now.”
As a result, a new inventory control system is being implemented which should help to make the company more efficient.
Willis’s brothers, Joe Dalton, Jr. (Joey) and Ryan Dalton, were surprised at the level of expertise offered locally. “When Sarah had mentioned that she had found this and that it was a no-cost service, it opens your mind to ‘why not have somebody look at it?’” Joey said.
“I don’t really delve into the details,” Ryan added. “I’m more or less looking at bidding a job and at the end of the job, I look at margins and percentages and move on to the next one. I think it’s been very informative.”
To date, Babe’s Plumbing revenues are up 70 percent over last year. In addition, the family is focused on continuing to grow all divisions – residential and commercial plumbing services, contract plumbing and fire sprinklers – including a recently added showroom with high-end fixtures and full service. They will also continue to utilize FSBDC at USF Sarasota-Manatee services.
“We’re going to work with Anita to do a marketing plan,” Willis said. Currently, there is no concrete marketing plan in place and the company is under-spending its advertising dollars. “I have high hopes for that to open my eyes and know where we can utilize that money, she added.
No matter what the future holds, Willis is moving ahead will high hopes and knows she did the right thing by reaching out to the Florida SBDC Network when times were good for the company. “Sometimes you wait until it’s too late. You wait until your business isn’t profitable and then you say ‘we need help.’ Our business has continued to grow. We have no vision of closing down but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to progress.”