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Managing A Growing Small Business

Accurate-Airtight Exteriors, Torrance Kramer

Title / Role: President
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Formed in: 2014
What do you do?

We are a full-service Energy Savings Contractor in business since 1998. From concept to implementation, let us be your guide. Consulting, repair, and testing services for existing and new construction buildings. We perform weatherization-style services on residential and commercial structures. Unique energy auditing and testing services for large to small existing buildings.

What inspired you to start your business?

After years of working with the utilities and seeing inferior work being completed on a consistent basis, I considered doing work on my own. Additionally, not having the freedom to analyze/test/report/promote/present the research, and complete the work I wanted to do, I took the plunge. The freedom of being one's own boss has an allure to it as well.

What's special about your business?

A few things. As a residential Home Performance Contractor, we are one of the few businesses led by someone with industry experience and credentials like myself (Torrance). We are also one of the few in the Midwest that takes an active role in repairing (weatherizing) large commercial structures. Additionally, the commercial air barrier testing that we do is a niche service. There are very few companies doing it as a stand-alone service and I (Torrance) have been doing this for almost 15 years.

What have been the high and low points of being a business owner?

Highs: Being able to do the work and projects I want to do. Setting your own schedule (sometimes). Surrounding myself with those I have chosen to be around. Developing young minds into the future of this industry. Freedom to evolve as I see fit. Seeing the growth of time and investment become a reality. Lows: Seemingly endless hours at times. There have been times when there was no money left over for me. Making the emotional investment and seeing other team members have the same investment, it's just a job.

What is your relationship with SCORE? SCORE client What influenced you to seek help from SCORE?

Really was challenged with understanding my numbers. My accountant spoke at too high of a level for me to understand. I really needed to get a handle on how we were doing in order to move forward. Also, just went through a paid mentor service and did not get what I was seeking from it. Seemed like a waste of money. Being with SCORE has been so worth it and has helped to propel me forward. LOVE SCORE

How SCORE helped.

I now can understand my accounting so much better. I have an accountant but need to be clearer from a high level of what was going on in the business. Will be seeking mentorship on other items in the future.

What's great about my mentor?

My SCORE Madison mentors Gary Barber and Tom Bradley are great listeners and able to decipher a need and direct a mentee to the correct person. Their insights have been valuable. Tom Bradley has really made my understanding of the basic reports and numbers I should be evaluating so much clearer. Feel so much stronger as a business owner since meeting with SCORE.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a small business?

Do a small business plan. Even if you do not follow it, it will make you think about critical issues. Follow a template that may have key questions to really dig in on where you want to go with your business. Always keep an eye on cash flow. You want to know very clearly what that statement means before you are forced to understand it, by then it may be too late. Take your time hiring each employee early on. Some may be with you for a long while, for better or worse in some cases.

What have you learned from your experiences as a business owner?

Good intentions don't equal good results. Just because one is trained to know and understand a task, does not mean they will complete it in a professional manner. Watch your numbers, monthly! Data is king. Cash flow is king. Surround yourself with good people and your life will be easier. Take the time to find those people. Plan for the worst and you will not have to work very hard if things are the best. Also, it will be set up for quality project execution.

My mentors
Gary K Barber

I offer support for startup and existing businesses through expertise in strategy development...

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Headshot of Tom Bradley
Tom F. Bradley

I can help you start or grow your business. I have 40 years of experience in finance, accounting...

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5262 Anton Drive
Madison, WI 53719
(608) 535-4978

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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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