TomCo Solutions of Hillsborough County
Tommy Whitehead, University of South Florida Alum, started off his career as an accountant before successfully venturing off into the construction industry and starting his own business, TomCo Solutions. “Odd story is I used to be an accountant and then I decided to launch a construction company. Kind of a strange happenstance but when the economy was in a downturn more than 10 years ago, I was offered a position in a construction company. I found out I had a real talent for it and decided to get my own license,” Whitehead said. With his great work ethic, Whitehead started on a path to build his dream construction firm in Tampa Bay.
Once started, Whitehead found that he would need financing help in order to create the business that he had envisioned. That is when he reached out to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of South Florida. This is when he was paired with Florida SBDC at USF business consultant, Brad Owens, for help navigating financial options and preparing his business for funding.
Since working with Owens, the small business owner explains how the difficult financing process was made simple. “The SBDC provided some excellent consultants for me. They made it simple and easy to get through the financing process. The process is not simple and easy that’s not what I mean to say, what I mean to say is that they allow you to comprehend. They take their time to explain it to you, spend as much time as you need, and then they hand you off to other professionals in the industry to help you get your business going,” Whitehead said.
With the help of the Florida SBDC at USF and his business consultant, Whitehead mentions that he was able to get a small business loan that has helped his business grow quickly. “The Florida SBDC at USF has helped me tremendously, because of this loan, I was able to go out and present to a lending partner that doesn’t normally lend to construction companies. They liked my marketing plan; they helped me grow by adding multiple staff members right away,” he said.
Whitehead attributes his biggest success to the loan he received, expressing how it is helping him set his company apart from similar businesses in the area. “So far, closing this small business development loan has been amazing. It has allowed me to hire employees, to hire additional marketing, and to really target my customer base in a different way than other contractors here in Tampa are doing,” he expressed.
Moving forward, the business owner is sure that as his business grows and requires more funding, he will reach out for guidance. “I can definitely see going for another round of funding and asking for advice from them [Florida SBDC at USF] again,” Whitehead said.
He added, “I think that they’ll help me continue to curate and develop a marketing plan over the course of my business development and I think that they’ll continue to help introduce me to other members of the business community that could assist me with my growth.”
As for advice to other small business owners, Whitehead said, “Have you heard about the Florida SBDC at USF? You really should. Its free consultants for professionals. These aren’t government employees that have never worked in businesses. Many of them are entrepreneurs or former executives. Former managers and directors of multiple different industries. They are giving their time to you for free. Use that service, it will help you grow.”