I did not, in fact, know that the National Safety Council estimates that slip and fall accidents cost American businesses $70 billion dollars every year and account for 95 million days of lost work.
At least I didn’t know that until after my conversation with Bill Richardson, the knowledgeable owner of Ceilmax Commercial Cleaning Solutions. Ceilmax is a Westerville-based company and an Economic and Community Development Institute portfolio business that provides nonslip floor treatments as well as acoustic ceiling cleaning. Richardson started the business in April with ECDI’s help.
After careers with Rockwell and AT&T, Richardson was tired of being downsized and began looking for a way to be his own boss. He met a representative from Acousti-Clean at a franchise expo in August 2011 who introduced him to PosiGrip, a no-slip treatment for hard surfaces, and Ceiltech, a simple, safe and cost-effective way to deep clean acoustic ceilings.
Acousti-Clean’s products were not only economic solutions for commercial businesses –the Ceiltech cleaning system, for example, costs 80 percent less than ceiling replacement and 50 percent less than repainting– they also increase employee and client safety, which leads to decreased workers compensation and liability insurance costs.
After researching the products and the company, Richardson knew that he had found his opportunity and began to plan his new business.
According to Richardson, whose business plan indicated that he needed just under $24,000 to get his business off the ground, he approached banks for a loan and they wouldn’t touch him. In general, very small loans are not profitable for traditional financial institutions, so business bankers often refer entrepreneurs they wish they could fund to ECDI for assistance.
In Richardson’s case, U.S. Bank sent him and his Ceilmax business plan to ECDI. U.S. Bank has been a strong partner of ECDI’s since 2007, providing volunteer support and funding to ECDI, including the capitalization of a $1 million loan fund.
“It’s funny, but the same bank that turned me down gave me a loan through ECDI,” says Richardson.
As part of ECDI’s loan process, Richardson participated in the organization’s “Get Your Business Up and Running” course, as well as training on how to use QuickBooks for business finances. Although those courses took time, Richardson believes they were beneficial.
“The business plan class educated me on my own business and was definitely worth the work,” he says.
When asked what challenges he faced as a brand new business owner in his first few months of business, in true salesman style, he said that educating people about the benefits of his products has been a challenge he has been happy to face.
Business owners are unaware of the prevalence and cost of slip and fall accidents and how a product like PosiGrip can quickly and easily help a business meet ADA and OSHA standards, and reduce long-term costs associated with slippery, wet or grease-coated floors. He has been reaching out to hotels, residential facilities, and restaurants to see if his products can be used to address their needs.
To learn more about Ceilmax Commercial Cleaning Solutions, contact Bill Richardson at 740-963-0326.
For more information about ECDI loans, contact ECDI at 614-559-0115 or visit ECDI.org.
To enroll in ECDI courses, such as “Get Your Business Up and Running,” visit ECDI.eventbrite.org.