Elevating Your Business to the Next Level

By Marine Corps Sgt. David Staten,
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

Each day, service members put their lives on the line to protect their country. When they retire from active duty, many decide to take another big risk by starting their own businesses. Nate McFadden, a retired Marine Corps captain, was one of those who decided to hop onto the stage of business ownership.

McFadden purchased Elevator Service Inc., headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2017 after spending the previous decade and a half working in the elevator industry. ESI was founded 30 years ago strictly as an elevator service provider, and now it provides custom, nonproprietary elevator systems for construction and modernization for commercial, residential and government clients.

I know you’re wondering how McFadden got to owning his own company, so I guess I’ll let you in on some of the secrets.

One of the key things McFadden did was get in contact with VetBizCentral, a Veterans Business Outreach Center serving Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

The VetBizCentral staff is uniquely composed of veterans dedicated to assisting fellow veterans and military families as they start and grow small businesses. Matt Sherwood, the center’s executive director and an Army veteran, provided advice, coaching and contacts to McFadden as he took over the existing business.

Another key thing was, of course, the money to get ownership of ESI. McFadden took out the money from his bank and BOOM! He got himself a business.

If only it were that easy sometimes. What McFadden first had to do was some research for financing the business.

McFadden turned to the Small Business Administration. SBA celebrates, connects and empowers veterans, service members (including National Guard and Reserve members), and military spouse entrepreneurs and business owners – past, present, and future – by highlighting the moments that matter in their journeys.

He received a nearly $300,000 SBA-backed loan. Now, under his leadership, ESI continues to experience remarkable growth, on track to reach another milestone this year through regional and national market expansion.

McFadden is especially proud that 25 percent of his employees are veterans. He’s recently added five new employees, modernized internal business processes, and secured the largest maintenance contract and some of the largest construction projects in the company’s 30-year history.

Not surprisingly, ESI was recognized by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce as the EPIC Veteran-Owned Business of the Year in October.

There are more than 2.5 million veteran-owned businesses in the United States, and some of these programs can get you there, too. To find your local VBOC, visit this resources page, or learn more about SBA’s veteran programs using the link above.

Adapted from a blog submitted by June Foyt, Small Business Administration Michigan District Office.

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