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Success Story

Plastic Masters International in East Palatka staff standing in front of a product ready for delivery

Plastic Masters International

Rick Paul was a great help with putting together my package for the banks. Without his input, I’m sure the process would have taken longer.

How do you pass entrepreneurship along through several generations of family and community members? Greg Bacon came to visit the SBDC in Putnam County in the summer of 2022 to determine just how to make his next business venture happen – which lead to the eventual family business structure.

Greg Bacon obtained his AA degree at St. Johns River Community College. Along the way, he became a great golfer and joined the PGA to become a golf professional. The PGA taught Greg not only how to swing a golf club; it taught him about building community, retail, hospitality, management, facilities, and greens. This translated into a 25-year career with the Palatka Golf Club before he purchased three existing businesses.  In 2002, Greg bought City Shippers, Quick Clean, and Coin-Op Laundry. In 2008, Greg purchased the right to open a Papa John’s franchise in Palatka with partner Steve Peacock. Their success would land them a top 100 franchise for Papa John’s.

One key to success as an entrepreneur is your ability to network and Greg used this skill set to his advantage; In 2016 he became the Chairman of the Board for the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce and in 2017 was awarded the Wagon Master Award, the highest level of award for his service helping the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch in Palatka.

Through his contacts, Greg learned of Plastic Masters International, an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) making boat hatches, swim platforms, and plastic windshields based in East Palatka. The owner, Steve James, was not ready to retire and for almost 15 years, the conversations and relationship between the two grew. Early in 2022, Steve decided to retire, and Greg had the patience and persistence to pursue the opportunity to purchase PlasticMasters. As entrepreneurs know, it takes planning to be able to purchase a business. In June of this year, Greg came to see Rick Paul, SBDC consultant in Putnam County to help with their loan package to purchase Plastic Master International. As SBDC clients, Rick Paul assisted in reviewing their business plan and providing pro forma financial statements that they could take to a lender resulting in a loan to secure the purchase of the business.  With that, Greg decided to go all in for Plastic Masters and sold all of his businesses.

The only way to top that was to bring Greg’s son, Scott, into Plastic Masters to continue the family atmosphere that the previous owner and his son had already built.  Scott used his expertise to help run the business.  First, he made sure that all of the current employees still had their jobs after the transfer of ownership and the senior employees were given new supervisory roles. In addition, Scott reached out to local businesses to supply them with parts instead of going offshore for parts. Next, his marketing strategy is to increase sales to the boating industry by becoming an OEM supplier to additional boat manufacturers. Scott and Greg’s community-oriented approach welcomes local boaters who need custom-made parts for their boats.  Scott is now co-owner of the company, but the team’s continuity plan is for Scott to gradually purchase additional shares of the stock over the coming years to become the majority owner.  With a 16,000-square-foot building and five acres of land, Scott and Greg will be able to add additional customers and slowly hire new employees.

So, the question is…how do you pass entrepreneurship along through several generations of family and community members? By building and managing a solid business and then offering it for sale to community members who are ready, willing, and able to take it over providing income for the third generation (and counting) of small business ownership. By starting a business from scratch, managing it, and building it until someone else is ready to buy it. By continuing the small business tradition in a rural community of preaching and teaching entrepreneurship and fostering the family values and atmosphere that allows it to flourish.

Plastic Masters InternationalGreg Bacon

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