James Ollari and Tyler Merrow started working with the Connecticut Small Business Development Center after recognizing that there was a market opportunity for them to provide superior customer service in the Fire Protection Industry. They started working with their business advisor to develop a business plan and lay the ground work for a successful business.
Line of Credit
Owner: James (Jim) Ollari and Tyler Merrow
Business Start Date: 2018
What Does Your Business Do?:
Our business does Design, Installation, Inspections, Testing, Maintenance, and 24-Hour Emergency Service of Fire Protection.
What Inspired You to Start Your Business?:
Jim: What inspired me to start my business was seeing a problem in the way other companies were handling their customer service and realizing that through the use of new technologies we could provide a better, more responsive customer experience.
Before Coming to the CTSBDC, What Were Your Primary Challenges and/or Needs?:
Before coming to the CTSBDC, I didn’t have a business plan, lacked capital, and did not know how much money it would take to get the business going.
How Has the CTSBDC Helped You Overcome Your Challenges?:
Jim Jackson helped me learn how to create a business plan, forecast expenses, and create a budget. This helped me foresee where the financial challenges would be down the road. I was able to plan for expenses I may have otherwise not have accounted for. I learned about capital and the different routes to take in acquiring it. Jim helped me see the potential benefits, as well as the risks of having a business partner. This led to Tyler Merrow becoming my business partner. Working together we have been able to accomplish a lot in a very short time.
What Have You Learned/Changed Since Working with the CTSBDC?:
I have learned that while enthusiasm and having a vision is important- more important is having a plan in place. Enthusiasm is the fuel, vision is the destination and the plan is the map. All three compliment each other and are needed on the journey.
How is Your Business Doing Now? What Does Your Future Look Like?:
Our business is doing very well. I’m running the Construction Contracts portion of the business and my partner Tyler Merrow is heading up our Inspections and Testing Division. Both are growing fast. We will
be hiring two new employees within the next two months. We set a goal for Gross Annual Sales and twice have had to raise the goal as we achieved our targets early. We will be investing in our business to provide our customers with an even better experience through our web-based Customer Management System, and we are working on a new marketing plan for 2019 to increase our inspection and service contracts customer base.
What Was It Like Working With Your Advisor?:
Overall, the experience has been very rewarding. Jim has been an excellent mentor and has been a major reason for our success. When we started our business, we had many things already in place that may have otherwise been forgotten, and we were able to hit the ground running because of what we learned from the guidance of our advisor.
What Words of Advice Would You Give to Small Businesses Looking to Work with CTSBDC?:
If anyone is considering working with the CTSBDC, I would highly recommend it. Having a CTSBDC mentor will dramatically increase your chances of success.
"Jim first came to CTSBDC both frustrated with his industry and charged up with a way to do it better. Over the first few sessions, we worked on refining his target market based on the capabilities he could create and the resources he could muster. Finding cost-effective ways to get the word out, building a budget and working on specific goals helped Jim turn his vision into reality and attract his partner Tyler. They’ve grown faster than they could hope and are on to a rosy future doing something they love. My role was primarily in helping focus on priorities, keys to success and putting up guard rails to keep them from going over the edge of a cliff they might not see coming."
- Jim Jackson, CTSBDC Business Advisor
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