Mark_Amy_Novoa

Mark and Amy Novoa of Ground FX Flooring in Herrin pose for a photo.

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CARBONDALE — Mark Novoa’s unique concept of a mobile showroom to enhance his planned flooring company received a boost from the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Novoa said the SBDC was instrumental in helping him move Ground FX Flooring from an idea into a successful business that installs up to 25 floors a week. The business has a traditional showroom and service facility in Herrin but also features a mobile unit, giving customers a new convenient way to choose their flooring.

A friend, who is also a local business owner, referred Novoa to the SBDC where he received help developing a smartly crafted business plan and making the company, which opened in 2000, into a reality. Novoa had no financing and just the shell of a plan for a business when he first consulted the SBDC. After hearing his plan, the center offered to help and the relationship has continued ever since.

“It’s just incredible, the journey we’ve experienced ever since we walked through the doors of the SBDC,” Novoa said.

Novoa and wife Amy said the initial stages developing the business and a detailed business plan were challenging, particularly making realistic predictions for the business and its future. They said the SBDC assistance was invaluable.

“I think it was a little intimidating,” Amy Novoa said. “You just get this sense of ‘I don’t know how to do this. It was a complete sense of ease when we walked in there. When we look back and we look at our charts, the predictions are so close to what actually happened that we’re like, ‘Wow, we did it!’ ”

The SBDC assistance the couple received allowed them to present information to lenders that resulted in a business loan at a low interest rate. The company is just two years from having that loan repaid.

“The business is literally supporting itself far above and beyond what we were anticipating,” Mark Novoa said.

The SBDC also helped create an advertising and marketing plan, essential to the startup of a business. Mark Novoa said he will continue to work with the SBDC and he refers other entrepreneurs there as well. He said it’s important that new and aspiring business owners surround themselves with good information and advice from the SBDC and other successful business owners.

“It’s incredible, it’s free, and it can make an everyday carpet installer like myself become a better business owner, a better provider and a better husband. It’s really changed our lives,” he said.

“Our heart, our goal is right here in our backyard. We want to be here in the Southern Illinois community. We want people to know that we love working for them in Harrisburg, Mount Vernon, Pinckneyville, Murphysboro, Carbondale and the other communities. But, we are also expanding into parts of Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri with some of our more recent jobs.”

Future plans include opening showrooms in surrounding states, Novoa said.

The Illinois Small Business Development Center/International Trade Center is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and hosted by Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

For more information about the SBDC or the numerous services it provides to new and growing businesses, contact Robyn Laur Russell at rrussell@biz.siu.edu or 618-536-2424.

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