Growing in the First Coast Region Despite Current Challenges
COVID, inflation, challenging election cycles – the past two years have been the perfect storm to wreak havoc on the nation’s economy. Despite the many challenges, businesses in northeast Florida are finding innovative ways to not only keep employees on the payroll but also, in some cases, expand profitability and their footprint as Florida rolls out the welcome mat.
PuroClean Emergency Restoration Services – St. Augustine, Florida
Serving as a leader in property emergency services and helping families and business owners overcome devastating setbacks caused by water, fire, mold and other conditions, PuroClean was perfectly positioned to thrive during the pandemic’s onset.
“We were deemed an essential business from the very beginning,” said Melissa Rowe, director of community relations and business development.
“We were actually blessed because we perform biohazard cleanup, and we helped many businesses and residential homeowners sanitize their properties when affected by a positive COVID contamination. We just looked at what services we offer that could be of value in this situation.”
While the St. Augustine location currently staffs 20 full-time positions, Rowe says they are looking to add team members to their workforce.
“We currently have five open positions that we have been actively trying to fill with no success,” she said. “We are lucky with the 20 employees we have; they are very loyal. We will always try to grow and bring value to the communities we serve.”
Ground Up, Inc. – Palm Coast, Florida
Joseph Santoro and his father, Ken, are in the business of car restoration. As the northeast’s largest automotive restoration supply company, Ground Up, Inc. has earned a reputation for quality service and timely delivery through the use of technology and e-commerce. Moving their business from Connecticut to Palm Coast, Florida, the successful business owners tapped into the City of Palm Coast’s REV Grant or ‘Recapture Enhanced Value’ grant program, setting workforce benchmarks and community engagement requirements while expanding their business to a 70,000-square-foot facility in Commerce Park.
With the relocation seen as a win-win, Joe shares how they leveraged their customer base, reputation and assets during the pandemic to continue thriving.
“COVID has been a challenge for us like it has been for most companies operating through it,” he said.
“We dealt with supply chain issues, staffing issues and a demand increase that we have not seen in our 30+ years of business. What set us apart from others in our industry was our preparedness for this pandemic, our determination to operate through government restrictions and our ability to retain staffing. These things enabled us to thrive over the past three years and grow our business into our new larger facility in Palm Coast, Florida, where we continue to thrive post-pandemic.”
Building on their success, Santoro says they are increasing staffing levels to meet the demand.
“Our outlook on the future of our business is strong as we continue to grow and expand our organization,” shared Joe.
“With our recent move to Florida, we are actively looking to hire staff right now to take our business to the next level. We have positions available in all areas of our business, from warehouse to office and administration work. We currently employ over 25 people and look to expand this number to 50 over the next three years with new roles, departments and functions that will support the growth plans for Ground Up Motors.”
Another northern business has found a warm reception in the Sunshine State.
Metronet – Palm Coast, FL
Starting their expansion into Florida by way of Tallahassee, the Indiana-based Metronet is eagerly laying the groundwork for a high-speed fiber-optic network throughout the state of Florida, connecting more than 120 communities across the United States.
Eddie Massengale, senior director of business development for Metronet, found a welcoming community to call home in Palm Coast and soon thereafter found a welcoming city, ready to usher the community into the 21st century of high-speed technology.
Working closely with the City of Palm Coast’s business development team, led by Jason DeLorenzo, Massengale said Metronet was encouraged to find new ways to ensure that more residents and businesses could have access to our 100% fiber-optic services, especially during the pandemic.
“With even more people working and learning from home, the need for a reliable and ultra-high-speed network became more of a priority for our customers, and the need for our service grew,” said Massengale.
“With the growing need for more bandwidth and faster speeds in mind, Metronet has expanded to serve more communities throughout Florida, including Palm Coast, Deltona, Daytona and many more. In the very near future, Metronet’s service will also be capable of providing access to speeds up to 5GB with new XGS PON technology.”
With expansion comes opportunity, and Metronet says there are a variety of options for those interested in a career change or ready to reenter the workforce.
“As we are expanding to serve more communities throughout Florida, we are also hiring many local positions, including local market management, sales and customer service professionals and service technicians,” said Massengale.
When new businesses were moving or expanding to Florida during the pandemic, in both cases, the staff’s attention to detail and exemplary customer service helped to facilitate a positive experience during a critical time in Florida’s economic vitality.