Blues Angel Music was founded in Pensacola in 1997 by retired Navy Captain and fighter pilot Jim DeStafney. He and his wife Nan, a retired Navy forensics officer, have grown the store from its one-man, 1,000 square foot beginnings into a 15,000 square foot, full-line music store, complete with a fully-staffed school of music.
The store has always been a family affair with their son Stephen. Their daughter in-law Sierra, who is also now part of the team, along with Nan, have been participating in the Florida SBDC at UWF’s Small Business Management (SBM) Program, an intensive, nine-month course offering comprehensive business education, peer-to-peer interactions, and ongoing business consulting.
Stephen is working on his business degree at UWF, but Nan says their involvement with the SBDC is important too.
“It’s really all about real world understanding of business, because there are just certain things you learn running a business that aren’t in a text book.”
In terms of the company, Nan states she has the vision for where it’s going, and Stephen is the implementer.
“Over the last two years I’ve divided the company up into divisions, so it’s gone from one giant company, into 10 separate divisions, because they’re all so different.” She explains that some are services, some are goods, some have high profit margins, some have low, long-term rentals, short-term rentals, repair center, retail store; etc. She has done that so they can see each division on its own as a business, and instead of budgeting on the aggregate, she’ll be budgeting for each division. “It’s definitely changed my life,” says Nan. And she states that with all of that comes the responsibility to make sure this keeps going. “Not for us,” she says. “We have 12 children, so this is not about any estate. This is about keeping it intact for the employees. This is about 40 people who depend on us for their food, clothing and shelter for their families.”
On their relationship with the Florida SBDC at UWF, Nan states:
“I can’t imagine being in this situation and working with someone who doesn’t love what they do and are passionate about it, plus [our consultant] has the experience and knowledge. I value his personal opinion, his experience and he’s great at communicating to the class.”
To take it a step further, she says what’s even better is the follow up with one on one time to see where YOU are.
"[Our consultant] meets you at the point of YOUR need, not just Business 101, because all of the businesses in the program are so different. Not only do you get what’s common to all businesses, like operations, sales, marketing and all that, but you have the face to face time too. "
- Nan DeStafney, Co-Owner - Blues Angel Music