Before launching B.H.I. Services, Inc on January 1st, 2017, Ronald Boehm and Barbara Richardson owned and operated R. D. Boehm Contracting in Pittsburgh, PA. For over twenty years, they provided the residents of their hometown with services that ranged from flooring to bathrooms and kitchens to high-end renovations, and eventually commercial projects. By 2015, both Ron and Barbara were ready for a change.
"We had the idea that we wanted to take a break from running a business," she said. "We'd been doing it for so long. We just wanted to get jobs, enjoy our weekends and not have the pressure and responsibility that comes with owning a business. We also knew we wanted to move south for warmer weather. After finding a job in Polk County in the construction industry, Ron was the first to move. I followed in October and took a position with the same company."
Not even a year later, Ron and Barbara had a complete change of heart. As Barbara shared, once you spend that much time working for yourself, going to work for someone else is easier said than done.
"We asked each other, 'What are we doing, we can't work for someone else'," she said. "We actually missed the feeling of responsibility you have for your own business. We wanted to be the ones making the decisions. That's when we decided to start our own business here in Florida. In Pittsburgh we did both residential and commercial. For the new business, we made the decision to start with commercial. We went to SCORE, completed the paperwork and started putting things together."
Barbara shared that, from their commercial work up north, they had connections with people from around the country. They touched based with an individual they did work for in Pennsylvania. He was located in Orlando and got them hooked up with some commercial work. Through networking and getting the word out, business steadily increased. Despite having extensive knowledge in the industry and a stellar reputation from their previous business, Barbara and Ron experienced some unique and some familiar challenges with growing B.H.I. Services, Inc.
"Here and before, it's always about finding good qualified employees," she said. "Finding people you trust and keeping them is always going to be a challenge. Other standard challenges include cash flow and knowing when to commit to a job based on your staff availability. The new challenge for us was having to start over with building our reputation. No one really knew us here. To help with that, I got out and started networking right away. We joined organizations such as the National Association of Women Owners (NAWBO - Lakeland Chapter) and the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW - Orlando). Since making the move, we've also increased our social media presence. In the past, we primarily relied on word-of-mouth and didn't really have much of a social media presence. It's a new challenge, but we're figuring it out."
B.H.I Services is a pretty unique company in the Central Florida region. With an array of commercial services and two state licensed owners with impressive skill sets in the construction industry, B.H.I. is well well-positioned to capitalize on the growing economy and the need for reliable and dependable professionals.
Looking ahead, Ron and Barbara are focused on growing as much as possible. Future plans include expanding more into the commercial building and renovation market. They're working on a new business plan and are having serious conversations around a strategy to get there.
What advice does Barbara have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "You have to be all in," she said. "You have to be a self-starter. You have to beat the pavement, be willing to take no for an answer and get up and keep going. Have a good plan, start small and keep your overhead low. Scale appropriately and don't make commitments until your business is flowing. We know people that lost everything because they didn't have a good plan. Lastly, it's important to know that you won't see a payoff right away. It takes time."