Coronavirus (COVID-19): Relief options and Additional Resources
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Brand Builders Ready When Customers Come Back

Resilient Ready 2 Run anchored by SBA counseling, capital and contracting

By Norman Eng

 

For small businesses in creative services, marketing and other service-oriented industries – surviving the downturn due to customer budget cutbacks has been a universal theme. 

“We pulled back – we just made sure we had enough cash to survive and just be here for our customers when they’re ready to come back,” said Dave Winchester. “If this continues to go on, we have a 12-month plan to make sure we’re still here.”

In 2011, after working for years as an exhibit builder, CAD technician and print shop manager – Dan Winchester started the business experimenting in his basement and creating visual arts for his own projects.  The brothers came together in 2013, when Dave Winchester began preparing for his retirement from the Navy – laying the foundation to incorporate Ready 2 Run Graphics & Signs by actively seeking out resources provided through the SBA and its’ resource partner network.
 

Counseling, Capital & Contracting

Dave Winchester

Dave Winchester could be the posterchild for starting a business the SBA-way.

It begins with education and counseling to build a roadmap; Once Dave’s business plan was fleshed out and lender-ready, Ready 2 Run (R2R) was approved for growth capital allowing them to build out the bricks and mortar location and purchase new equipment; then getting certified opened doors to government contracting to grow their portfolio of business.

Dave first got connected with counselors from SCORE and MSBDC to prepare for the business launch.  Worcester SCORE mentors Pete Allen and Scott Rossiter, helped him flesh out the business plan with one-on-one meetings throughout the course of a year. 

As a Veteran, he participated in the SBA’s Boots 2 Business program at Pease Air Force base in New Hampshire – attending the program one day a week for eight weeks, where he gained foundational knowledge as a new entrepreneur and learned about specific programs for Veterans.  

After getting the business plans ready, R2R applied for their first loan with Unibank and got approved for the SBA Patriot Express loan (check Office of Veterans Business Development for new programs) – allowing them to build out their 240 Barber Avenue location in Worcester, buy new equipment and support working capital needs.

Later to support expansion, R2R took out additional SBA loans to continue making modifications to the building to bring it up to code, acquire more cutting-edge equipment such as a paint booth, and buy a new company van.

In order to compete in the government contracting space and , R2R then became certified as a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business with the VA and started receiving counseling from Government Sales Advisor Sandra Ledbetter of the Procurement Technical Assistance Center and the Small Business Development Center network.  As a client of PTAC, R2R gained understanding of how to bid and win contracts – allowing them to build a portfolio of work in the public sector at all levels – federal, state and city. 

“Before COVID we had a very specific strategy of focusing on our strength in experiential graphics,” said Dave Winchester. “Experiential graphics and signs are the look and feel of a space when you go inside. Say you go to the Children’s Hospital in Boston – it’s all the stuff on the walls, the floors the signage, it gives you that feeling of playfulness and you know you’re in the Children’s Hospital.  Experiential graphics is what gives you that look and feel that tells the brand story and we work with architects, general contractors and interior designers to help them accomplish what they’re looking to do.”

Today R2R has become the go-to source in Central Massachusetts for graphic arts, signs and helping businesses tell their brand story.  The Winchester brothers have worked with clients such as: Veterans Administration, Navy, Air Force, hospitals, colleges, and universities throughout the region.  
 

Resiliency Tips from Dave Winchester

  • Identify who you are and strengths – don’t be everything to everybody; Be unique, be focused so they think of your company first. For R2R we are focused on experiential graphics.
     
  • Dealing with COVID – business owners can’t just sit back, be proactive and reach out to get resources.  Utilize SBA support services and counseling to help you come up with a long-term plan.
     
  • Manage your cash and don’t be passive.  Run your cash flow analysis and be conservative by reducing any unnecessary expenses.  Remember that cash flow is not necessarily profitability; and just because your P&L shows you are profitable, doesn't necessarily mean you have the cash you need. 
     
  • If you have debt look to your lenders for forbearance.  Your lenders know this is unprecedented and they want you to survive.  For me calculating cash flow is a pretty complex spreadsheet, but I run best case and worst-case scenarios.  You need cash to survive, so make sure it will be available in the worst-case scenario. 
     
  • Running a business comes with a certain amount of risk, growing a business usually assumes higher risk.  Now is not the time to be aggressive with growth it is about being here when the opportunity for growth returns.

 

Dave Winchester was named the 2020 SBA Veteran Owned Business of the Year for Massachusetts.

 

(Disclaimer: The SBA does not endorse the organizations sponsoring linked websites, and does not endorse the views they express or the products/services they offer.)

 

 

Company Name: 
Ready 2 Run Graphics & Signs
Location: 
Worcester, MA