Loads Of Opportunity
Starting a new business is never simple. But that didn't stop entrepreneur Adam Rubin from making his dream of owning his own company a reality. By seeking out every local and state resource he could, Rubin successfully launched Southern Textile Services, an Alexandria, La.-based health care linen service, in 2007.
The company began with 14 employees. And in less than two years, Southern Textile Services has grown to more than 50 employees and a fleet of delivery trucks providing nationally accredited laundry services to numerous health care facilities across Louisiana and Mississippi. In fact, the company is one of only 50 such businesses in the United States to meet the strict guidelines for this accreditation.
"It's been very fast growth," said Rubin. "My family has been involved in the laundry industry for 30 years, but this is a new segment of the business."
To enter that segment, Rubin tapped every available small business program he knew. One of his first calls was to the Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) at Northwestern State University, a partnership between Louisiana Economic Development (LED), U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Louisiana universities.
"When Adam came to us, he had a business plan and a vision, and knew where he wanted to go," said Frances Methvin, assistant director of the Central Louisiana SBDC. "But he needed to know how to get there most efficiently, which is what we were able to provide."
With Methvin's assistance, Rubin gained access to a wealth of state, federal and local entrepreneurship support programs that aided multiple facets of his startup, including cash flow projections and financing sources. Through LED's Small and Emerging Business Development (SEBD) Program, Rubin found new resources to help him purchase custom inventory control software.
The SEBD program is designed to help small businesses grow, assisting with entrepreneurial training, accounting and legal needs, marketing, industry-specific assistance and computer skills. By becoming a certified small and emerging business owner, Rubin was eligible for other business growth opportunities, such as the Bonding Assistance Program, Louisiana Economic Development Corporation Loan Guaranty Program, and consideration for bidding on selective service or product purchases by state agencies, including hospitals.
To be eligible for the state's SEBD program, a business must meet specific criteria. For example, the company's principal place of business must be in Louisiana, and it must be organized to perform a lawful, commercially useful function. Also, the business should have a net worth of less than $1.5 million at the time of application and must anticipate creating new full-time jobs.
Rubin also registered for the state's Angel Investor Tax Credit Program, which was established to foster Louisiana's entrepreneurial environment. "I wanted to have access to investor capital when we are ready to seek that out in the future," Rubin said. "The program is a good component to help us market our company for investment."
Rubin worked closely with the Central Louisiana SBDC and one of its economic development partners, Kisatchie-Delta Regional Planning and Development District, throughout the initial phases of his startup. "Every time he came to us, he would pick our brains for how to do things and what to do, which is exactly what we're here for," said Methvin. "He is a perfect example of someone who has taken advantage of the SBDC and all the programs available to small businesses."
This ambition and "go-getter" spirit, as Methvin calls it, earned Rubin theSmall Business Person of the Year award for Central Louisiana in 2007.
"I have tried to take advantage of everything that's available," said Rubin. "I would not have been able to afford to start this business without the SBDC's insight and assistance."