FSBDC at USF helps give new life to century old business
Mine & Mill Supply Company of Polk County
Mine & Mill Supply Company was established in 1909 under the name Mulberry Explosives and Supply Company. The industrial supply house has a rich history in the local mining and citrus industry, and is one of the oldest companies in Polk County.
With a customer base that spans a 100 mile radius in Central Florida, customer service and timely delivery has always been a priority. The company relies on customers looking for industrial supplies such as, steel, paint and tools to fulfill their business needs. However, even one of the oldest and most reliable companies can have trouble competing in the current business environment as it exists today.
Jeff Bedford, General Manager and Chief Operating Officer with Sales Manager, Dan McDaniel, turned to the Florida SBDC at USF in search of new ways to market their established business.
“We just felt that we needed the extra help of understanding where we actually are as a company and what we can do to try and increase market share and grow the business once again,” Bedford said.
McDaniel attended a Marketing Your Business seminar taught by Carl Hadden, a Florida SBDC at USF certified business consultant who specializes in marketing, workforce development and growth acceleration. McDaniel struck up a conversation with Hadden to find out what other services the FSBDC at USF had to offer that could be beneficial to Mine & Mill.
Hadden began work on an in-depth business assessment in September and had the results ready for the management and board of directors in November.
In order to complete the assessment, the company had to be willing to turn over in‐depth financial statements, a process that may make some business owners apprehensive.
Bedford said FSBDC’s confidentiality clause, along with the reputation of the company made it easy to turn over the financial information in order to get a more accurate, in-depth look at the work that needed to be done.
“When I saw how the FSBDC has helped other companies, it gave me a level of comfort that helped me be more than willing to open up the books,” Bedford said. “The more information that you give and the more correct information you give, the better your report is going to be and the better the help that you’re going to get. It’s one of those things that you have to open yourselves up to if you’re going to get any help.”
“It’s like having a budget,” Bedford added. “You can put whatever you want to on the page, but if you don’t have data that backs it up and makes it work, it’s useless.”
In the short time frame since the assessment was delivered, the company has already made progress on two of the three issues that were found.
Bedford stated the profit margins have increased and there has been some natural employee attrition, which has helped to level out employee wages.
“Dan and I have met several times with strategies going into 2015,” Hadden said. “The sales team is ready and they have the data and the leads that they need to really push that third rung, which is to grow the sales. I’m excited about the possibilities for 2015.”
Moving forward, utilizing the tools they have acquired through the FSBDC at USF, the pair said that they are now exploring new industries and markets to delve into, including bolstering their current status in government contracting.
“In years past we had been strong in government contracts and it just went away without anybody really paying attention to it,” Bedford said. “We realize that’s some low hanging fruit that we should be able to get relatively easy.”
Hadden said that though the pair still has a lot of work to do, they challenge each other, hold each other accountable and have the best interest of the company in mind.
McDaniel said that having Hadden and the resources of the FSBDC at USF readily available, has strengthened the pair’s vision for the future of the company.
“We can throw our ideas to Carl and he can give us some historical information to back up whether our thoughts are correct or incorrect,” McDaniel said. “It helps with where we need to go in the future.”