FSBDCN State Office: Across Florida, Hispanic-owned small businesses are making an impact. In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, the Florida SBDC Network is highlighting successful Hispanic-owned small businesses from across the state who are creating jobs and helping lead Florida’s economic recovery.
According to a recent study by Geoscape and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses nationwide is expected to grow to more than 3.22 million in 2014. This represents a 43 percent growth rate since 2007, a figure more than double that of all U.S. firms.
In Florida, Hispanic-owned firms make up 22 percent of the state’s small business population. These businesses, like Deerfield Beach-based H2O International, Inc. and Orlando-based Kings Service Solutions, LLC play an important role in Florida’s economy.
International expansion of H2O International, Inc. has always been part of the business plan for President Guillermo Guzman. Guzman is a civil engineer who, prior to starting his business in 1993, worked as a structural engineer for 10 years whereby he was involved in several bridge and major interchange projects in South Florida.
H2O International manufactures Point-of-Use and Point-of-Entry water filtration products for domestic use and, in addition, a patented line of shower filters using KDF media for chlorine removal. Guzman knew that there would be a high demand for water filters and water purification equipment globally and, thus, worked with the FSBDC at Fort Lauderdale to develop an Export Marketing Plan through a grant-funded program with Enterprise Florida.
Thanks to the assistance of the FSBDC, H2O International has found success penetrating markets in Chile, Colombia, and Peru. Export sales for H2O International have increased by 22 percent, an increase of almost half a million dollars.
In late 2009, Arnaldo and Yanet Herrero of Kings Service Solutions (KSS) first approached Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida Advisory Board Council Program Manager Jill Kaufman about their interest in becoming a client of the program. In 2010, KSS was accepted and an advisory board was formed to address the company’s needs. The board helped them put in place an organizational structure, systems, and processes to better manage the company and facilitate their growth.
Beginning with the simple idea of providing high-quality and reliable commercial cleaning and facility maintenance services, KSS has grown to serve industry leading companies throughout Florida such as Trustco Bank, Florida’s Blood Centers, and Lamm & Company Partners.
When KSS became a client of the Advisory Board Council, the firm had a staff of six full-time and 37 part-time employees and leased a 1,700 sq. ft. office. Just over four years later, KSS has grown to 318 full-time and 200 part-time employees. Annual revenue jumped 270 percent from 2010 to 2012 and the company now owns its 3,500 sq. ft. office and warehouse suite. Importantly, the Herrero’s also strongly believe in giving back to the community, and KSS is a devoted supporter of a number of nonprofit organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida. In May, Yanet Herrero received the 2014 LATINA Style Entrepreneur of the Year Award by LATINA Style Magazine.
The Florida SBDC is proud to celebrate the accomplishments of Mr. Guzman, the Herrero’s and all Hispanic-owned and Hispanic-led small businesses across the state.