Veterans Finding Success in Small Business

When Hurricane Wilma ripped through South Florida in October 2005, husband and wife duo Michael and Kristen Nevils saw a great need to safely store and dispense safe potable water. Thus, Michael Nevils teamed with his wife, melding his inventive skills and her marketing and organizational skills, to establish M.R. Crafts. This entrepreneurial venture replaced Michael’s yacht repair activity and Kristin’s human resources position. Their initial product was so special that it won the Grand Prize in the 2007 Inventor Search Contest.

Building Sales and Expanding

However, M.R. Crafts wanted guidance to support their sales and product expansion. They turned to the Florida SBDC Fort Lauderdale team for help.

Kristen Nevils worked with Mike Bell, Consultant and Government Contracting Specialist through the Florida SBDC’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), to explore the world of government contracting. In this arena, Michael Nevils’ status as a Service-Disabled Veteran came into play. Bell assisted Michael Nevils in obtaining verification from the Veterans Administration for his status as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), allowing the company to be eligible for federal business contracting ‘set asides’.

FSBDC Breeds Success

Success breeds success. As M.R. Crafts established itself as a viable supplier to the federal government, they came to the attention of Grainger, a worldwide provider of industrial supplies. M.R. Crafts exceeded Grainger’s expectations, permitting the Nevils to expand well beyond their original product. They are now growing as an award-winning provider of emergency, healthcare, safety, and industrial products. M.R. Crafts provides product development, sourcing, and manufacturing to assist organizations with their procurement strategy, expand their product lines, develop new markets, and decrease costs.

When M.R. Crafts started with the Florida SBDC, their gross was $10,000. Over the past three years, they’ve increased their total gross to more than $7 million.

The Nevils credit the Florida SBDC Fort Lauderdale for much of their success. The future is bright for the duo. They hope to sell more than $3 million in products and services in all their business segments, which they should achieve by 2015. To pay it forward, Michael Nevils is writing a book to inform other Veterans on how to start and build a successful business.

"The FSBDC has been an invaluable resource for our business, from publicity classes to learning how to work with the Federal Government, we were able to set ourselves up for success."

- Kristen Nevils, Vice President - M.R. Crafts

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