Employees during peak season
Best Small Business Honoree
When Rodney McCormick was introduced to the Michigan SBDC he had been successfully in business for more than three decades. He had turned his one-man upholstery repair shop into a full-service operation with two locations and 15 employees. The business was steady and there were no red flags to indicate he needed to make changes. Sometimes, though, change is needed even when a long-time business owner can’t see it.
How the SBDC Helped
When you’ve been at the helm for more than 30 years, there is a tendency to become complacent with the way things have always been done. Utilizing the business consulting services from the SBDC, Rodney and his team began to take a closer look at the operations and financials of the business. They wanted to find ways to make improvements to boost sales and the bottom line. Using the business, financial, and marketing tools of the SBDC, they did just that.
Through the resources and support from the SBDC, Rodney and his team made moderate changes to the company’s processes, operations, employee relations, and marketing tactics. The result was an increase in sales, team members, and bottom line; as well as, being named the 2018 Best Small Business Honoree for the Michigan SBDC Mid Michigan Region.
When Rodney (Rod) McCormick returned home after serving as a medic in the Army, he was without a job and not sure what he wanted to do. Not one to sit still, he went to work at his father’s upholstery shop. He also trained to become a paramedic. After a few years of working with his father, he decided to branch out on his own and launched Mid Michigan Upholstery in April 1982.
Initially, it was a one-man shop that provided upholstery repair services. As the years passed, he continued to serve as a paramedic while the business steadily grew. He added new services and hired employees. After 20 years of balancing the two, he decided to invest 100% of his time to the business.
“I learned early on that you can’t limit yourself; especially, in business,” said Rod. “As new opportunities arose, I added services that allowed me to fluctuate with the ups and downs of a seasonal business and it’s a formula that continues to work for us.”
Almost 40 years later, Rodney has transformed the business from a one-man shop into a full-service operation providing commercial, residential, and recreational upholstery services. Many years ago, he added awning design, construction, and maintenance for homes, businesses, and recreational vehicles to the service mix. This addition led to a name change – Mid Michigan Upholstery & Awning, Inc. More recently, he added the capabilities of offering printed digital graphics, silk screen printing, and fabric sales. The fabric business offers more than 14,000 yards of in-stock fabrics and 500 hides of leather, which can also be purchased from his eBay store. With two locations, the company’s team of 9 to 15 employees serve customers across mid-Michigan from their 30,000-square foot headquarters in Alma and an 11,000-square foot shop in Mt. Pleasant.
As with many projects, if you work on it for an extended period you begin to have tunnel vision. Business was good. Sales were steady. Rod was content. Then one day he met a Growth Consultant from the Michigan SBDC, who introduced him to a wealth of business resources and tools available at no cost.
“Before Jose walked in the door, I didn’t know about the SBDC or how they could help a small business such as mine,” stated Rod. “It wasn’t just one thing he helped us with but all the individual things that added up to a more defined view of the big picture and the success still to come.”
Since that initial introduction, Rod has tapped into many of the business consulting services available through the SBDC, including Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Financial Management Analysis, Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), market research, general management support, and more. He credits these tools and the ongoing support from his consultant for helping his team to improve how they prioritize, schedule, and budget. Through market research the team has learned industry standards, benchmarks, and wages that has allowed them to become comparable with or better than the competition.
Rod shared that one of the best milestones achieved while working with the SBDC has been the development of the company’s first employee handbook. He also attributes the support of the SBDC for giving them the opportunity to reach more customers, increase sales by a couple hundred thousand, and hire additional workers, which led the company to be named the 2018 Best Small Business Honoree for the Michigan SBDC Mid Michigan Region.
The next milestone for Rod will be to retire someday (he’s not quite ready just yet) and to transition the business to his son, Robbie, who has served as the company’s General Manager for more than 12 years.