Safety Net International, LLC.

Michelle Walker, the founder, and CEO of Baby Barrier Pool Fence Company, has navigated numerous challenges and triumphs throughout her journey in the pool safety fencing industry. With a focus on manufacturing and distributing pool safety fencing, Michelle's company has established a strong presence in key markets such as Florida and California.

The journey began when Michelle and her team obtained a patent for their innovative pool safety fencing solution in Florida. With an initial focus on the local market, they quickly gained traction and expanded their reach to California, a state with a high concentration of pools. This strategic move allowed Baby Barrier Pool Fence Company to tap into a significant customer base and boost its growth trajectory.

Michelle and her team encountered a major hurdle when Hurricane Ian struck their headquarters. The storm severely damaged the building, with 90% of the roof gone. As they walked into the aftermath, the team faced the nerve-wracking task of assessing the potential damage to their inventory.

Fortunately, despite the extensive damage to the building, their inventory remained largely unscathed. Approximately 25% of the structure had caved in, necessitating a thorough cleanup process. The team worked tirelessly to remove debris, rip out flooring, and clean up the property, even without electricity. Michelle's decision to involve her employees in the recovery effort not only helped restore the premises but also provided them with meaningful work during the challenging period.

Acknowledging the financial strain caused by the temporary closure, Michelle prioritized her employees' well-being by ensuring they received their salaries. To accomplish this, she utilized the company's cash flow, albeit at the cost of a considerable dent in revenue. Michelle's dedication to her team's welfare exemplifies her commitment to fostering a positive work environment and maintaining strong employee relations.

During this time, Michelle found support in the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), an organization she was familiar with through her previous experience securing a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan during the pandemic. Recognizing the SBDC as a reliable resource, Michelle reached out to them in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. The SBDC proved instrumental in assisting her company by providing guidance on the available funding options and streamlining the application process. Their prompt response and accessibility brought Michelle a sense of relief and assurance as she faced the daunting task of recovering from the hurricane's aftermath.

“Having the SBDC during the aftermath of Hurricane Ian put us at ease completely. We had an access point to be able to find some type of funding during the waiting game with the insurance,” says Michelle.

Through resilience and strategic planning, Michelle Walker and Baby Barrier Pool Fence Company overcame the challenges posed by Hurricane Ian. The company's commitment to employee well-being and the unwavering support of organizations like the SBDC enabled them to navigate the storm's aftermath successfully. Today, Michelle stands as a testament to the power of determination, adaptability, and seeking assistance when needed, all of which have propelled her and her company toward continued success in the pool safety fencing industry.

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Having the SBDC during the aftermath of Hurricane Ian put us at ease completely. We had an access point to be able to find some type of funding during the waiting game with the insurance.”

Michelle Walker, Owner — Safety Net International, LLC.