Pro-Tools of Hillsborough County
Tyler Mullen, small business administrator of Pro-Tools, a manufacturer of tube and pipe bending tools, knew that he wanted to continue the legacy of growth that his father left behind within the family business. Now, continuing the work with his mother, Mullen and his team began working hard to expand business through international trade efforts.
Under the guidance of the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at University of South Florida since 2014, Mullen confidently reached out when he needed help with international trade. “As a small business administrator, breaching international trade has been kind of a daunting task, and so I didn’t know where to start when we started the journey and partnering with the SBDC has helped me open doors that weren’t possible before,” he said.
Knowing that he couldn’t do it alone, Mullen contacted the Florida SBDC at USF and was paired with international trade specialist and business consultant, Selma Canas, for help with the process to successfully begin expanding internationally.
Since working with the Florida SBDC at USF, the company has seen growth in financial numbers and partnerships. “So from a macro perspective, we’ve increased our revenue about 33 percent; we’ve worked with the SBDC since 2014 in a variety of capacities,” Mullen said.
Having worked with a variety of business consultants within the Florida SBDC at USF team has also helped increase profits. “We’ve worked with individuals on the export marketing, international trade, on finance, with individuals in domestic marketing, and all of that has helped us become a more profitable company,” he added.
Mullen also expresses that the company was able to successfully visit Australia during a trade mission and strengthen relationships with partners. “Selma helped us identify an opportunity for a trade mission grant. So, we took advantage of that and went down there, and the trip was an incredible success. We were able to identify new partners and grow our current partnerships,” Mullen said.
Even with the increase in sales revenue and profits, Mullen is reminded that without his team of hard-working employees, they wouldn’t be where they are today. “Pro-Tools isn’t just about revenue and profits; it’s a family business and we consider all of our employees as part of our family,” he said. “And so our biggest success is not just that we’ve been able to increase our revenue and profits throughout working with the SBDC. It’s that we’ve been able to keep our employees throughout really challenging times. There’s been a lot of changing economic conditions and difficulties facing small businesses, so the fact that we’ve been able to continue to support the families that work for us, means the world to us.”
Moving forward, Mullen expects to continue using the Florida SBDC at USF as trusted advisors as he navigates the ins and outs of expanding the business. “As a small business sometimes it’s hard to identify the best resources or the best avenues to chase, and it’s really easy to get overwhelmed by the myriad of things that you could do to grow your business, or cut costs, or manage the business and so it’s been really helpful to have a team in our back pocket,” he said.
Mullen encourages small business owners who are possibly going through the same challenges of owning or managing their own businesses to reach out for help and partner up with the Florida SBDC at USF. “As a small business, cash flow is tight, and every small business owner faces that issue, and so being able to partner with somebody who has your back and knowing there’s no profit motive, they’re just there to help you continue to grow, is invaluable,” Mullen said.