Fire Sprinkler, LLC Seeks SCORE Mentor
“Scary” is how Pat Stella characterizes being a CEO. He should know. As president of a Nashville, Tenn., mechanical contracting firm, Stella faced all the difficult decisions and challenges that come with being “the boss.”
Despite being in familiar territory at the helm of a company, Stella felt the need for some sound business advice. Not just anyone would fit the bill. “I needed another CEO’s perspective,
he says, “someone familiar with the kinds of issues I was facing, and who could give an information evaluation of my ideas and concerns.”
Starting with four employees, plus help from Stella’s wife and father-in-law, Fire Sprinkler, LLC received an $80,000 job on its first day in business. At the end of the first year, the company had added staff and surpassed $1.5 million in revenues — twice what Stella had projected.
Stella’s accomplishments have also garnered attention outside the engineering and construction profession. In January, he was invited to Florida to receive SBA’s 50th Anniversary District Director’s Choice Award for Region IV. The award recognizes one company within each SBA district that has excelled in every aspect of small business, including strategic planning, company growth, sales and profits, human resources and community service, and leadership.
Stella was familiar with SCORE and contacted Nashville SCORE for help. That led to his first meeting with Bill Fowler, the retired president of a local engineering company, in July 1997. Since then, Stella and Fowler have met at least once a month to discuss specific problems as well as “big picture” areas.
“Over the years, we’ve covered just about every topic you can imagine,” Stella says. “Bill helped put together an accounting audit together, advised me on issues involving the purchase of our building, lease/buy decisions for equipment, and other issues as they have come up. He also regularly looks over our numbers to make sure we’re staying on track.”
Stella considers Fowler’s advice to have been in valuable to sustaining the growth of his Fire Sprinkler LLC. The company’s 2003 revenue topped $6 million thanks both to a growing client base and a remarkably low employee turnover rate.
“SCORE is an excellent advantage for any small business. They give you an instant ‘board of directors’ – people with experience who can help shape and guide your business.” says Pat Stella.