So-Cal Ponds Inc. is growing and we need your help!
Every year, Chase bank partners with Mission Main Street Grants to award a $100,000 grant each, to 20 small businesses throughout the country. We had to answer 5 questions (posted below) about who we are and how we would use the money.
We need 250 votes by 11:59 pm, June 19, 2015 to even be considered for this grant. Recipients will be chosen and awarded in September. As I write this post now, we have 174 votes. That’s only 76 more votes to qualify and to make it to the next round.
This would be a dream come true for me, Dominic Carone, president of So-Cal Ponds, Inc. I have always wanted to take my business to the next level but with limited working capital it has been tough. This would allow us to grow, and open up a retail store with display ponds and all kinds of products.
Here are the questions asked by Chase and our responses:
- Tell us about your business and what makes it unique. Please provide a general description of your product, customers, competitive landscape, and overall performance. So-Cal Ponds designs, builds and maintains koi ponds and water gardens. With 15 years of experience, we are dedicated to highly crafted water systems tailored to your unique pond needs. Using the highest quality materials, we never cut corners, ensuring sustainable, low maintenance and balanced eco-systems that enhance your outdoor experience. The satisfaction of our clients is what drives us to excel in our field and aspire for pond perfection. We thrive to be the best in our area while also to achieve national recognition. Unlike our competition, we target the cause of any pond issue rather than treat the symptom. We also make our client the priority, taking extra steps if need be to produce a quality product rather than cutting corners to make an extra buck. It’s our competitors ponds that we often find ourselves being called on to remedy. We serve single family homes, multi family HOA’s and commercial properties. We currently care for over 55 regular clients and over 100 seasonal clients. Our passion lies with ponds and as they say, when you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life.
- What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? Describe both your greatest achievements and biggest challenges. Prior to the start of my business, I had worked many indoor jobs. It’s because of my love for the outdoors and nature that I had decided I would much rather work outside, doing something I love. I have always had a particular interest in fish and moving water which is why ponds appeal to me. Creating and caring for ponds satisfies for me, the things I crave: the outdoors, nature, fish, water and creativity. My biggest achievement has been my ability to grow my business from nothing more than an idea into a legitimate small business, all while gaining client loyalty and earning the respect of my peers in the industry. I started with little knowledge and basically no money and I’m beyond proud of this accomplishment. My biggest challenge is not having a disposal cash flow to allow me to hire additional talent such as a job foreman, bookkeeper, advertiser, etc. My business is steadily growing and it’s time to take it to the next level. Acquiring the appropriate manpower will allow me to work ON my business rather than IN my business.
- How is your business involved with the community you serve? Examples include: giving back to the community, sourcing locally, and/or contributing to economic development via hiring. We have only recently been able to give back to the community but we hope to do more for it as we build and strengthen our reputation and presence in our community. We try to sponsor local athletic teams and we’re always happy to help the elderly and veterans by managing their water features Clicking Here. We also help families and single parents who may not be able to pay for our services by either offering a reduced rate or, on occasion, completing hours of work at no charge. We’ve also recently been able to hire additional employees to add to our team. Our goal is to employ many more much needed experienced individuals and to offer training to those who may lack it. This grant will help make that possible.
- What would a $100,000 grant mean to your business and how will you utilize the funds? Please be as specific as possible. A $100,000 grant would allow our business to open a retail facility, have an office outside of my house and increase our marketing and advertising. The facility would be an aquatic nursery and sell pond/water garden supplies as well as a full landscape design, build and sustain center. It has been a 15 year dream of mine to open a retail location where I can attract customers and interact with potential future pond owners on a face-to-face basis. I’ve been mentally making plans for exactly how I’d run operations at my store including everything from scouting the perfect location, to hosting barbecue fundraisers, to having public pond building and operating demonstrations, to daily/weekly/monthly/seasonal discounts and sales I’d offer and promote. Other uses of the money include purchasing necessary vehicles for towing purposes and maintenance routes, acquiring serious tools and hiring additional employees who I can delegate work to (allowing me to continue to accept more work from clients).
- What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term growth plans for the business? How will this grant contribute to your plan? We have been working on hiring and training quality employees to handle everything from our maintenance route, construction and design work. We need to continue down that path while at the same time, focus on building our clientele to include other designers and contractors through aggressive marketing and awareness. Without quality crew members our company will not have the success I desire. Our long term goals include opening the retail store, continual growth of our maintenance clientele as well as growing the installation portion of the company. The grant would allow the company to have a commercial facility to house our tools, trucks, miscellaneous equipment and have a proper office location for administrative services.
So with that, I hope you will take 20 more seconds after reading this to help us out. All you need to do is click THIS LINK (or the other voting buttons on this page) and you will be taken to the voting page on Mission Main Street Grants website. You will also need to be logged into your Facebook page as it is required for voting (for verification purposes) and click the blue “Vote Now” button on the right of the page. That’s it!! That’s all you have to do and it takes less time than it did for you to read this post. Think of this as your “good deed” for the day.
Thank you VERY much for your time and your vote. You will all be invited to the grand opening of our store if we are awarded the $100,000 grant!