Dover Emergency-Management Firm Manages Through Growing Pains to Secure Success With Little Help from SBA

Don Chupp posing at the entrance of a private jet.

By 2007, Air Force Veteran and Dover, Del. resident Don Chupp's 12 years of real-world emergency management and victim/family support experience uniquely qualified him to make "the best of the worst of times" for large companies, high-net-worth brands, and individuals and their families, alike grappling with emergency circumstances. Chupp knew that emergency plans, preparation, and most importantly, the resources to respond could make all the difference for that population. But, Chupp also knew that, to maximize his potential positive impact, he needed to connect directly with that population, and that time was of the essence, especially with the seeming increasing frequency of emergency world events. In short, to best help his clientele risk-manage everything from private aircraft accidents and armed assailant emergencies to employee deaths and injury, it was time to take one of the biggest risks of his own career -- leaving the safety net of his government job to start an emergency management firm.

In 2007, Chupp launched his own sole proprietorship firm -- Fireside Partners -- out of his Viola, Del. home office. With risk management and training as his forte, Chupp expertly assessed the entrepreneurial landscape, and quickly developed business-building relationships with small-business-building resources like the SBA-backed SCORE, Delaware Small Business Development  Center, and the University of Delaware-based Procurement Technical Advisory Center (PTAC). Chupp coupled guidance from these SBA-backed resources with his own technical expertise in emergency management mainstay functions like direct victim assistance, recovery and cleaning of personal affects, and crisis public relations to grow Fireside Partners from sole proprietorship to international services exporter in just ten short years.

By 2014, Fireside's growth was exponential, a testament to founder Don Chupp's prescience in terms of marketplace demand for his particular brand of emergency management. But, with growth often comes growing pains, and Chupp's Fireside Partners was no exception. Absorbing Fireside's rapid scale-up to meet increasing demand required Fireside to identify and implement new fiscal agility and forward-thinking internal structure measures, all while maintaining day-to-day operations. Thankfully, Chupp's Delaware SCORE mentor Frank DeSantis came alongside Chupp to ease Fireside's scale-up, developing internal business trackers such as P & L, Balance Sheets, and fiscal pipeline projections to set the course for fiscal health. DeSantis also held Fireside to account by establishing regular monthly financial reporting to insure good fiscal behaviors.

With growth management firmly in hand, Chupp set his sites firmly on Fireside's future. Today, Fireside operates its Emergency Operations Center in Dover, Del. as the central nerve center for its signature brand of emergency management, which brand secured for the firm: a host of annual service contracts; a strong international clientele for its emergency response services arm; a regular influx of local-economy-boosting emergency management trainees at its Delaware headquarters; and on-site accident response projects in far-flung locations like Alaska and Puerto Rico. And, Fireside plans an expansion into internal segments, a potential satellite office in the Eurozone, and expected licensure in all 50 United States.

This article does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the SBA of any opinions, products, or services of any private individual or entity.