Small Business of the Year winner: 1st Choice Industries

 
 

Sarasota’s 1st Choice Industries may not be a household name, but its clients certainly are — The Home Depot, Starbucks, Denny’s and Circle K, just to name a few.

The multifaceted company was founded in 983 in New Jersey, but moved its headquarters to its current location on Whitfield Park Loop in 2006. The company has grown steadily ever since — even in the midst of a recession.

Its CEO, Gary Simone, credits his company’s simple business philosophy for that success.

“Surround yourself with good people and good things happen,” he said. “No matter what you are doing, you must always make a difference and be a partner to your clients.”

1st Choice offers constructions services for the restaurant, retail, hospitality, medical and banking industries. But it also provides facility-management, interior-design and business-solutions services.

Building for the restaurant and retail industry did not offer the steadiest work in the faltering economy, but 1st Choice Industries made the best of the situation.

“We adjusted to our customers’ needs,” said Wayne Jones, the company’s business-development specialist. “Finding out what our clients’ challenges were and working within their budgets.”

Simone believes that fostering good relationships with customers and employees is the best way to do business.

“Take care of the people who take care of you,” he said.



At a glance


Business address: 1941 Whitfield Park Loop

Start date:
2006

Number of employees:
48

Advice to other small businesses: “Focus on customer needs. Communicate. Exceed expectations,” said Gary Simone, CEO of 1st Choice Industries.

Biggest challenge: “The economy, because its primary business is serving the restaurant and retail industries.”

Best place for a power lunch: Crager’s; Hob Nob.

What was first day like: “Our first day was fast and furious, as our clients were waiting for us to get started here in Florida.”

If you could have any job for a day, what would you do: “I really couldn’t see doing anything else other than what I do now, (except) being a full-time firefighter, as I did volunteer for 24 years in New Jersey.”

Who is your business hero: “Warren Buffett, because of his vision to diversify."

What is one advantage of having your business in Sarasota: “Living and working in paradise, along with a growing community and the quality of our valued partners in the area."

Contact Robin Roy at rroy@yourobserver.com.

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