General Contractor Builds Business with Local Resource
Westcoast Design Build FL of Sarasota County
Thomas Hemingway, a licensed general contractor in Florida, decided to launch his own business in 2016 after working for a large national home builder as a vice president of construction.
“I had an opportunity to launch my own business to pursue some new products that I wanted to have more control over,” he said. “I wanted to be able to offer more than just a paycheck and a pink slip to employees, and that is part of what we offer here.”
Hemingway launched Westcoast Design Build FL, also known as Westcoast Worxx, in 2016. The company specializes in residential remodeling of indoor and outdoor kitchens, as well as cabinetry.
Around 2018, Hemingway took part in a CEO program through CareerSource Suncoast. There, he came across the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at University of South Florida (USF), and specifically, business consultant Scott Carpenter. Carpenter, based out of the Sarasota Chamber, specializes in public relations, branding and marketing.
“I originally approached him for help capitalizing,” Hemingway said of meeting Carpenter. “When I learned that the strength was in marketing, our direction turned to the marketing side of things. I needed some assistance in entering the market.”
Since then, the duo has met bi-annually to stay on top of Hemingway’s progress and adjust strategy as needed. When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the area, Hemingway decided he needed to realign his business and renegotiate product terms and marketing.
Especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, he wanted to realign his business and renegotiate product, terms, and marketing.
“We realized in early 2020 what became later known as supply chain disruptions was impacting us,” he said. “What we used to be able to get between 30 and 60 days were between 24 and 36 weeks, so we realigned with some suppliers.”
As a result, Hemingway says the business is actually in a better position post-COVID because of being able to get product, which allowed Westcoast to keep projects on track and gave them an advantage over competitors. Looking back, Westcoast Design Build FL has come full circle since Hemingway initially started working with the Florida SBDC at USF, and Carpenter.
“Come full circle, we are in our own location now,” he said. “I have seven employees. The marketing is effective. We have plenty of business coming our way. We are looking at expansion, so the opportunity that presents itself right now is strategic planning in growth planning for next year and beyond.”
Moving forward, Hemingway says he’ll continue to rely on the Florida SBDC at USF and Carpenter as his business keeps growing.
“We plan to use the SBDC at USF for some strategic long-term planning,” he said. “We have visions to enter cabinet manufacturing. In order to launch a manufacturing facility here locally, we need to acquire the capital. We also need to backfill orders. We are reaching out to Scott and his team to help us strategize and plan the steps necessary for long-term growth. We are fortunate here in Sarasota and Manatee to have organizations such as the SBDC at USF to reach out to.”