Blue Coast Eco-Blasting
History of the Business
Daniel Maciel had worked for the government all his life. After completing a career with the Coast Guard, he took a job with the Oregon Youth Authority in Tillamook. But this wasn’t a good fit for the freedom-loving mechanical engineer who had been outdoors for most of his career. He longed for more independence and flexibility in his schedule and wanted to spend more time with his family while his kids still lived at home. So in 2021 he started looking for opportunities that would allow him the lifestyle he desired.
He considered franchises, researched various business opportunities, and took the time to brainstorm. One day he was watching TV and saw the hosts use a fascinating tool: It was a dustless blaster that used environmentally friendly elements to prepare, clean, and restore various surfaces. It could be used on steel, wood, or concrete. Immediately, Daniel was excited. Could this be the opportunity he had been looking for?
Daniel reached out to the Tillamook Bay Community College SBDC. Before making a major investment in this machine, Daniel wanted to learn about the market and competition. Once Teri, his business adviser, informed him that there was no competition within 100 miles, he decided to take the plunge…and Blue Coast Eco-Blasting was born in June 2022.
Challenges Faced and Opportunities Presented
Although the SBDC helped Daniel apply for grants and loans, the process was arduous and banks were not willing to extend a loan to cover the significant startup cost for this new business. So Daniel and his wife had to fund the business themselves. Another challenge Daniel has faced has been learning the actual cost of the service he provides so he can assess bids and charge appropriately. He knows he undercharged for his first few projects but is learning quickly. Finally, the transition from the “institutionalized” employee mindset to that of an in-charge business owner has been a challenge. Nobody is telling him what to do—and although this is exciting, he will readily admit that the learning curve is steep.
On the other hand, the opportunities for Blue Coast Eco-Blasting seem nearly limitless, given that the climate encourages rust and that there is no competition nearby. Daniel has been busy all summer and is currently negotiating with the Forest Department to clean their water tanks and with the water company to clean their fire hydrants. He has worked on a wide variety of projects, from steel boats and cars to wooden doors, concrete basements, and aluminum surfaces.
Everywhere he drives his blaster, people stop and ask him about it, opening up many spontaneous conversations and even opportunities for on-the-spot demonstrations. He sees himself offering his restoration services at car shops, car shows, and fairs someday and is pursuing getting a DUNS number so he can bid on government contracts. His ultimate goal is to hire employees to do the blasting while he functions as CEO and manager of the company, reaches out to customers, provides demos, and sends out the bids. His wife and two sons are already working in the company with him.
SBDC Capabilities and Resources Used
Daniel has taken a number of SBDC classes that have helped him successfully set up his business. From the initial market analysis in his one-on-one conversations with Teri to the “What’s Your Plan?” class, which taught him how to write a business plan, the SBDC has helped Blue Coast Eco-Blasting get off the ground. Daniel has also attended a workshop on how to secure government contracts and is currently implementing what he learned.
How Services Benefitted the Small Business
The SBDC provided Daniel with the necessary information and market research to decide that taking the risk of starting his own business was a viable choice. He reports that working with Teri has been enjoyable and he especially appreciates that she has listened to his concerns. He feels that the SBDC has really helped him start off on the right foot, get clear on his vision, and set specific goals. He values the free/affordable classes and the opportunity to use the SBDC’s conference and meeting rooms for his own business purposes: “It makes you look more professional.”
When asked what he would tell another person who is considering reaching out to the SBDC, Daniel responded, “Don’t be afraid! Do it!”
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