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Rhode Island District Office
380 Westminster Street Room 511
Providence, RI 02903
United States
Phone: 401-528-4561
Fax: 401-528-4539
TTY/TTD: 401-528-4690
Hours of Operation:
Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM

2011 Joseph G.E. Knight Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence

Joe and Brenda Baginski are serial entrepreneurs. The Providence couple has operated five businesses over the past 20 years. The latest, Professional Ambulance, is a medical transportation firm headquartered in Providence.

The Baginskis launched their journey into entrepreneurship in 1990 when they purchased a small factory and opened a costume jewelry company. That firm eventually employed 50 people before the jewelry businesses evaporated in the United States and drifted offshore, mainly to Asia. The factory closed in 1998. That same year Joe and Brenda opened a check-cashing business in a small office at the front of the factory.

That check-cashing business once handled about $15 million annually. Those were the days before electronic transfers and the direct deposit of payroll and government payments. Joe believes that the check-cashing business will go away, much like the jewelry industry in America.

They have sold cell phones in a kiosk at a Providence mall. The major telecommunications companies moved into the mall and squeezed out the Baginskis by offering customers unbeatable contracts.

In 2005, they opened a mortgage business. They were successful until the bottom dropped out of the mortgage industry in 2009.

The Baginskis were looking for a business where their product or service wouldn’t be sent overseas or be crippled by a slumping economy. That is when their children, Jacquelyn and Mark stepped in to help. Both had college training in business and marketing and used the Internet to search for opportunities. They looked at the data and the potential for growth and settled on the medical transportation business. They then developed a business plan and the marketing concepts for the new company.

In 2009, they found a lender who gave them the financing they needed. The Baginskis injected $150,000 of their own money into the business and Independence Bank provided a $150,000 loan backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration. They purchased two used ambulances and a wheelchair van to get started and the medical equipment required by state law for the ambulances.

As a start-up business, bringing the family members into the business was cost-effective. They saved significantly on payroll costs while they built their customer base.

Joe, Brenda and Mark enrolled in classes to become emergency medical technicians (EMTs), while Jacquelyn handled the office and marketing duties.

Business has increased. They purchased four more ambulances, a wheelchair van and now have 14 employees.

The Baginskis attribute Professional Ambulance’s success to superior customer service. Employees are treated like family and that is reflected in their attitude. EMTs are urged to treat everyone they transport as if it were a parent or grandparent.

Joe, Brenda and Mark also lead by example. They are on the ambulance runs and pay attention to the detail necessary to keep their business successful. It’s a 24/7, 365 days a year business.

For their demonstrated success in business over the past 20 years, the Joseph G.E. Knight SCORE Chapter is pleased to honor Joseph Baginski and the Professional Ambulance family with the Joe Knight Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence.

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