The Road to Success | SBDC UNF

The Road to Success

“In today’s market, the difficulty of obtaining a loan to start my business would have been ten-fold without the help of Marge and the SBDC.”

A combination of forces led Phillip Johnson to start his own auto repair business. He had been in the industry for over 35 years working in a variety of positions from mechanic to, most recently, service manager at a local dealership in St. Augustine. Over the past year, Johnson had become very well known in the area. He wanted to establish an honest and affordable shop for customers to get their cars serviced without being hassled with upselling promotions, gimmicks and scams. In order to do this, Johnson needed a partner for the backend office work. He also needed a loan. Phillip found his partner in his girlfriend who had an excellent knowledge of running a business. The process of obtaining a loan was a little more difficult.

The original business loan was declined by a local bank because it was a startup company. He was then referred to Marge Cirillo, Certified Business Analyst at the Small Business Development Center in St. Johns County. Cirillo was able to offer advice and guidance on his business plan and financial projections. Marge referred Phillip to a local credit union that was making small business loans to startup companies, and the loan was approved.

The Auto Squad LLC opened in March on Dobbs Road in St. Augustine with three employees. “In today’s market, the difficulty of obtaining a loan to start my business would have been ten-fold without the help of Marge and the SBDC,” said Phillip.

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