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3 Reasons Mom & Pop Businesses Are Still Cool

Mom + Pop’s are the bootstrapped businesses that have made it work for generations across all cities including Nashville. They are not closing their latest round of funding, launching a hot new app, or building a new AI device instead they are ensuring the buildings you walk in each day are safe, you have proper lights to see and a clean place to conduct your affairs. Just the little (big) stuff. They are the ones behind the scenes making the IT in Music City happen. They are the firms laying the bricks for those new condos and high rises, they are running the electric, ensuring we can communicate and protecting assets when the rest of us are sleeping. They are the backbone of Nashville economy and a mainstay in NBIC’s portfolio of businesses. They are why we do what we do.

When NBIC started in 1986, small business and entrepreneurship wasn’t a “cool” term or one that people were running out in droves to do.  When you look back for a while, big box retailers and Fortune 500 companies seemed to be the dominant players. However, mom and pop’s have always played a major role and are making a comeback according to Forbes, by generating over 50% of the US Gross National Product (GNP).  As Nashville continues to grow, we wanted to share a few reasons why mom and pop’s are still endearing and a critical part of the city’s make up.  

  1. A Personal Experience. When you think of your local small businesses, store front or restaurant, there is probably a favorite person you enjoy seeing when you visit or that one person that knows exactly what you need when you walk in the door. You can’t beat a personal relationship or business where everyone knows your name.
  2. Real-time Response. Online shopping is great and of course has it’s place, however there is nothing like being able to touch and feel the products, food, apparel, etc. you are looking to buy. Plus, the ability to ask questions directly to the people who are supplying the goods and services is priceless.
  3. Local Economy Driver. Small businesses are still the backbone of Nashville and other cities. They employ the youth to retired veteran and help cultivate community each day. According to News Channel 5 via Paychex, one of the nations largest payroll providers, Tennessee ranked number one in the nation in small business employment with a 1.2 percent growth last year.

We’re Official & A Big Thank You!

Last Tuesday, NBIC revealed it’s new home in Germantown. It was so great to see our partners, sponsors, graduates, clients and friends come together to celebrate our new center space. Thank you for always being the support NBIC continually needs to help fulfill our mission of growing businesses “from tiny acorns to might oaks”.

Our new center move will allow us to focus on helping “mom and pop” businesses grow by meeting them where they are. Through our new co-working space addition, dedicated desks, and workshop series we will be able to address barriers encountered by women, minority, and veteran firms.

Also, a special thanks to the Nashville Chamber for presenting the ribbon cutting. We are especially thankful for two of our Alumni, Brenda Odom of U-Kno Catering and Emanuel Roland of Roland’s Photography for their generous donations.  Ms. Odom provided all of the delectable appetizers and homemade tea (that should be bottled and sold, asap). While Mr. Roland brought out The Roland Experience and allowed guests to take a tour of his mobile headshot experience. Additionally, thanks to Kirbee Miller of Kinimi Kitchen for providing her famous Cajun Pop Popcorn.

See event gallery for a complete look back:

 

 

A CONSTRUCTION FIRM GETS IN ON THE NASHVILLE BOOM

Latda Vaughn and Corey Jones are the founders of Diamond Restoration, a construction firm specializing in exterior cleaning and concrete accommodations. The two met while working in very separate arenas, Corey was on the exterior cleaning industry and Latda was the controller for a national promotional products brand in Nashville.

What inspired you to start your business?

Corey: We started Diamond Restoration in 2010. I was always inspired to be an entrepreneur. After being in the exterior cleaning industry, I started venturing to understand the business and what other opportunities were available to me. I was then able to connect with Latda who was working as a controller for a successful brand in the area.

What makes Diamond Restoration different from other construction companies? 

For one, we do not have a cap on jobs we perform. A job could be $1,000 or  $1 million dollars. We pride ourselves on being very honest with each client on our capabilities and if we can or cannot take on a job size.  Partnering and teaming up with other firms to get the job done is one of our strengths. Being able to collaborate with others really helps us expand our opportunities.

Why Nashville?

Definitely the growth. It has brought more opportunity for small businesses. Now with a boom in construction, it is bringing more outside companies into Nashville. Businesses are looking to work with smaller companies, which forces people to work together in the city.

Why has NBIC been the best option for you and your business? 

I love the use of my convenient and functional office space, beneficial business development services and information that I receive along with the opportunity to network and establish peer-to-peer relationships with other small business owners. NBIC was actual pivotal in helping me develop my accounting system, which was one area I needed help. As a small business, I could not go out and hire an accounting firm. Having the opportunity to gain this insight through NBIC was priceless and has helped in the sustainability of my company.

What advice would you give to others who may be intimidated by getting into government contracting as a minority business?

I would definitely share that you can’t get good at it until you start doing it. Once you start getting involved, reaching out and going online to feel out the proper documents, you will begin to find a comfort level. Don’t let fear hold you back from an opportunity.

Is there one business resource or tip you would give to NBIC readers just starting out in their business? 

Latda: Make sure you have your books together and have a separate business account, so you are not commingling expenses.

Corey: Understand what it is that you are trying to achieve with your business. Make sure you are finding out about different programs. If there are opportunities to participate in any building block programs, make sure you are attending.

Is there one significant win you have received over the last 6 months to a year that you would be up for sharing with the NBIC community?

We will start work on a first project with Skanska on the JW Marriott. The bidding process and paperwork were a huge fete and we are now excited to showcase all that we can do.

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A CHAT WITH AL COLVIN, FOUNDER OF NRG MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS

 

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Al Colvin is the founder of NRG (Energy) Management Solutions,Inc. is an electrical contractor company that provides electrical services for commercial and industrial construction projects.

1.    Describe the mission of NRG Management? 

Our mission is to provide our employees with an honest and helpful working environment, where every employee, individually and collectively, can dedicate themselves to providing our customers with exceptional workmanship, extraordinary service, and professional integrity.  We will strive to implement a long term relationship with our clients based on safety, quality, timely service and an anticipation of their needs.

2.    What inspired you to start NRG Management Solutions? 

Well, I had an opportunity to start the company as a vendor to one of the largest electrical distribution companies in the world; however, once they realized the amount of revenue that could be generated by self-performing start-ups and commissioning, it was brought back in-house.  I, then, ventured into new construction and the rest is history.

3.    What makes NRG Management Solutions unique and different than other electrical contracting firms? 

We care about people first.  This is a culture that starts with the company and emanates outwardly to all of our customers.  I want EVERYONE to feel important and appreciated.

4.    Are you a Nashville native? 

No, I am originally from Ohio but have been in Nashville off and on for almost 21 years.  Transferring to TSU (Tennessee State University) was the reason for coming to the Music City, but I fell in love with the Southern hospitality and felt as though this was a stable environment to raise children.

5.    Electrical contracting is a specialized field that is very important for any construction project; could you describe a typical on the job day? 

We start off the day with a safety briefing, because I want everyone to return home in the same condition in which they came.  Afterward, there is an assessment of job status as it relates to scheduling as well as checking for material and tooling needs for the upcoming days.  We are always trying to be proactive instead of reactive. 

6.    How long has your company been in the NBIC program?

We are going into our 3rd year at the NBIC.

7.    Could you share 3 things you love about NBIC that others may not know? 

  • The staff has been excellent throughout our tenure.  They are all dedicated to the growth, development and overall success of the companies in the program.
  • NBIC has enabled us to enroll in free business development opportunities through various entities such as MNAA and SBA.  These programs are invaluable for businesses looking for sustainable growth.
  • Lower rent helps companies maintain lower overhead in order to be more competitive in the market place and save money for their own facility upon graduation from the program.

8.    Is there one business resource or tip you would give to readers just starting out in their business?

A popular misconception amongst people wanting to start a business is thinking since you are able to perform the work, you are able to run a business.  Unless you understand how to operate a business, you are going to find it extremely difficult to grow and sustain your business without the right assistance.  The NBIC has helped me tap into various resources in order to grow exponentially.

9.    Is there one significant win you have received over the last 6 months to a year that you would be up for sharing with the NBIC community?

Over the first year at the NBIC, I was fortunate enough to generate revenue through another business and as a result the electrical company suffered.  Angela Crane-Jones personally challenged me to put more effort into the electrical and I accepted.  This year we have already surpassed sales from all of our previous years combined.

10.  Lastly, what can Music City expect from NRG Management Solutions in 2017?

We are steadily looking for ways to improve our employee and customer experience.  I want the company to be better than the day before and never allow success to make us comfortable.

A Moving Company Betting On Quirky Branding and People First

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Co-Founders Bryce Adkins and Toddy Caldwell

Move On has been a part of NBIC for almost a year and a half after purchasing a local moving company. Founded by two Nashville transplants, their fun approach to moving is refreshing. They also  believe investing in their employees’ lives is a natural thing to do which in turn provides a great experience for their customers. They are betting on their quirky branding and people loving skills to succeed in this industry and we are excited to share their story.


Describe the mission of Move On?

Move On’s mission is to provide a great career opportunity for our employees. We want to provide the best company culture and work atmosphere possible while providing the highest quality service. In short, we want to positively impact as many lives as possible.

What inspired you to start Move On?

We had a great opportunity present itself when a moving company went on the market for sale. Seeing the current market atmosphere and the need for a moving company to operate at a high level of service and integrity inspired us to create Move On.

What makes Move On unique and different than other moving companies?

Move On is heavily invested in its employees. We are always trying to better their lives through their work at Move On. Our clients will always receive the best customer service and a personal touch to their move.

Are you a Nashville native?

My business partner, Toddy, and I are both from other states. Nashville is definitely home for both of us, but Toddy is from Mississippi and I am from Seattle. Nashville for me was a choice to call home because of the music scene. For Toddy, it was a city he felt that really fit him. The people here are great and you get that small town feel in a big city.

Move On has done a great job of developing a fun, quirky brand. Why did you make it a priority to focus on branding and messaging for your small business as it is sometimes overlooked when starting a business?

Our identity is very important to us. So when we considered marketing and branding ourselves, we wanted to be true to who we are personally. We have a sense of humor here and some great personalities and we want that to be conveyed in our branding. While we take Move On and our reputation very seriously, we do not take ourselves seriously. We have a lot of fun doing what we do and we want people to understand that. It’s important for people to know that we truly care about serving and running a great company, but have fun while doing that. Branding is something that anyone can do; from the logo, to your name, to the personality. This can all be conveyed in multiple affordable channels. Social media is the obvious and easy way to show people who you are.

What initial steps did you take when creating your brand look + feel?

When we were building the foundation of our branding, we solely focused on finding out who we were as a company. We looked at the moving industry and how dull and boring it was. We are not dull and boring and we want to market ourselves with our personality deeply rooted in that brand. We wanted very early on for people to know who we are regardless of if they have used or needed our services. For us it’s quite simple, we stay true to ourselves and who we are and I think when you do that people connect. Everything you see is a direct extension of our personality and who we are.

Why NBIC? 

NBIC provides great resources for the businesses that are affiliated. It has helped foster our growth tremendously. The location is amazing, but the faculty, support and resources gives any business a leg up while fostering growth.

For the reader just starting up their business, what is one tip you would provide?

Having a detailed business plan is great. But, knowing who you are and focusing on operating with the highest level of integrity and customer service will work for anyone and have the biggest impact on your reputation and growth.

What has been one of your biggest wins since launching?        

The biggest win I would say we have had, outside of our reputation, would have to be the employees we have. We are very proud of our employees. Our customers love them and we love having them work for us. It’s great seeing our folks become friends and spend time together outside of work. When you develop a team that is tight knit, your business will operate on another level of awesome.

Lastly, what can Music City expect from Move On in 2017?

Nashville can expect some pretty epic marketing from Move On in 2017. We are working on some very exciting things that we hope people will enjoy and identify with. Our service is always being improved in every aspect. I doubt we will ever be satisfied with how good we are. We always want to be better, and will continue to grow together in being the best we can be.