FL Solutions of Pinellas County
Kristy Casillas has always had a creative streak. After graduating from Ringling College in Sarasota, Casillas set out to start her own company. FL Solutions handles video books, video business cards, print, promotional products and creative for companies large and small. The company handles projects as large as wall murals and does all custom work.
“I just really enjoy the variety of all the creative and the end product,” she said. “You don’t really have the same day twice.”
While business was going well, Casillas wanted to try and break into a new arena, so she reached out to the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) at Pinellas County Economic Development (PCED) for guidance in growing her woman-owned business in the government contracting industry. The Florida PTAC is offered through a partnership between the Florida SBDC Network and the Defense Logistics Agency.
Casillas says when she first started meeting with procurement specialist Yolanda Cowart, her brain was fried before she ever walked through the door. “She has helped me tremendously. She helped simplify it for me so I could understand it very well.”
Cowart helped Casillas formulate a Capabilities Statement that could be used to give prospective vendors a snapshot of her company. She said she was able to secure her biggest client, Moffitt Cancer Center, with help from Cowart.
“That was a huge feat for us,” Casillas said. “Yolanda was amazing in helping us get to the right person, and to at least get our foot in the door. From there, we were able to meet a lot of wonderful people to continue that relationship.”
Casillas says her business has tripled since she’s started working with Cowart and the Florida PTAC at PCED. Beyond helping Casillas secure her first government contracts, Cowart also stresses the importance of networking in the industry. Casillas counts this as one of her biggest successes to date.
“My biggest success so far in catapulting our business is of course the relationships that we’ve been able to build through getting out and networking and connecting,” she said. “A lot of times projects come and go but those relationships are there for a while. You never know what will come in the future.”
While FL Solutions is now working on government contracts, Casillas continues to expand the company’s reach. “It’s [Florida PTAC at PCED] helped us connect with possibly coming in as a subcontractor on some major government contracts and we also have two minor direct government contracts that we currently work with, but before we came here, we didn’t know anything about that realm. Moving forward I’ll use the PTAC at Pinellas County to continue to stay up to date with what’s going on.”
Casillas continues to work with Cowart on local government contracting opportunities, and is introducing new products to make the company even more competitive. She credits the Florida PTAC at PCED for the company’s continued growth and says she can’t encourage other entrepreneurs enough to take advantage of the resource.
“When I talk to other businesses about the PTAC, I’m able to tell them how amazing everybody is there,” she said. “They don’t treat you any different than the guy who’s got 20 contracts. They understand that you’re new and you’re trying to get started so I just encourage people to go there and start step by step.”