When Jim McDonough was looking at his options after serving in the military for 22 years, contracting with the Army, although lucrative, wasn’t what he had in mind.
Instead, he and his partner John Cappadoro, decided to put family over financial gain and launch a small business.
More than a decade later, Veterans Cleaning Solutions is providing interior and exterior cleaning to families all over the Wiregrass and supporting both military and civilian communities with the integrity and honesty learned through the military. The company will post about $1 million in sales with about a 26 percent net profit.
McDonough said today’s performance wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance of the Small Business Development Center at Troy University, which focused the team’s corporate vision at several junctures over the first decade.
“We were initially introduced to the SBDC during our transition out of the military,” he said. “We had a representative speak to us in our transition briefing, we had an interview with the staff and started a relationship.”
They took a few courses offered by the SBDC and got started working their business.
“For about two-and-a-half years, we built the business on our own – living off our retirement incomes and trying to make the business get off the ground,” McDonough said.
Pretty soon, sights were being set on expansion in the Dothan market, but McDonough said they needed to have a plan, so a $200 investment in a NxLevel course seemed like a good way to get started.
NxLevel is a multi-session course designed for small business people who want to start or grow a business and need the skills to test the feasibility of their business concept. Participants develop business plans and cover various business topics.
“Harry Grier was our instructor and when we got to the week where we had to forecast our financials, the forecast told us we were headed toward bankruptcy. The numbers told us that,” McDonough said. “We knew we were in trouble and we brought it to the attention of the SBDC staff. They started working with us and we started retooling the company.”
One of the solutions was to pay off debt quickly. Again, a military retirement helped the partners push all their resources into the company.
“You get out of it (the SBDC) what you put into it. If you don’t engage them, they can’t help you,” he said. “But it is a very leverageable asset. I don’t think people know how to use their local SBDC. It’s that planner, mentor and someone to bounce ideas off of.”
As COVID began to impact the company’s business – which is essentially sanitizing homes and businesses – the SBDC staff emerged once again to advocate on behalf of clients such as Veterans Cleaning Solutions, working with lenders and facilitating information exchanges that McDonough said were vitally important as the economic landscape began to shift into pandemic mode.
“We’re lifetime servants. We’re not here to be the biggest company in the world, but we do believe everybody deserves phenomenal service and amazing results,” he said.
Key to being able to continue to deliver on that dream is the support the business received from the SBDC at TROY. The partners also hired a business coach and leaned on the financial principals of authors such as Dave Ramsey and Mike Michalowicz.
“(When you are in a small business) You better have some advisors. The SBDC at Troy University is a free advisor in your own backyard. In beginning businesses, the resources they offer you when both your funds and your education are limited is excellent,” McDonough said.