Antoine Jackson had always aspired to manage his own business. A family man with many successful years in management, Jackson has supervised in a number of industries including restaurants, retail stores, supermarkets, and a call center. Though working for others proved lucrative, Jackson always wanted more. He recognized the importance and the value of being a business owner, and it is a sentiment he passed down to his four children.
When he decided it was the right time for him to pursue his own business, he knew he needed an opportunity that would work with his already busy schedule. Between working full time, attending school full time, and being a husband and father, Jackson decided that a franchise would give him the support and the training he needed to get his first business venture off the ground.
After researching some franchises, he felt that opening a cleaning business with Jani-King International, Inc. would be the best fit. Jani-King is the world’s largest commercial cleaning franchise company. The franchise provided him the tools needed to transition into the cleaning industry, a line of work that was relatively new to him.
Despite the challenges, Jackson’s business did not take long to get off the ground. He discovered an untapped niche within Jani-King and decided to become certified in specialized fields so he could take on accounts that were previously untouched by other Jani-King franchisees and competitors.
“My quick growth was due to a combination of a couple of things,” Jackson said, “but mainly it was doing and taking on things no one else would or wanted to do.” Jackson broadened his client base to include various healthcare facilities, restaurants, and even Darien Lake’s Performing Arts Center. He was able to grow his clientele from four accounts his first year to ten accounts his second year.
“I always just did things differently, and went outside the traditional way,” King explained. “In the midst of that I always wanted to make sure I provided value to my customers and went the extra mile. Not only myself but also to those I employed.”
In his third year, Jackson decided to go full-time with his franchise so he began looking for funding opportunities through multiple financial institutions to meet his growing needs. He had been running his business as a family operation, with his children helping out as needed; but as his client base grew, he knew he had to add more employees.
Even though his business was profitable, Jackson struggled to qualify for financing from banks. This left him with few options. When he learned about PathStone Enterprise Center, a member of the NYS CDFI Coalition, he felt hesitant to speak to a representative due to his previous experiences with banks. Ultimately, he decided to call and see what assistance The Enterprise Center had to offer.
With The Enterprise Center’s history of funding growing companies and supporting minority-owned businesses, Jackson wanted to see if they would make good on their promises. He worked with Terron Grant, Business Development Officer in the Buffalo office, which made the process simple and within four months, Jackson was approved for a $19,000 loan to grow his business.
Since working with PathStone, Jackson has hired additional employees and upgraded his equipment to better serve his clients. He currently has six full time employees and 15 part-time employees year-round. Seasonal staffing between May-December can go upwards of 60-80 people. He has since gained major accounts including Channel 7 and Eastern Hills Mall, a 997,945 square foot facility.
“The funding from The Enterprise Center allowed me to have the freedom to go out and expand my business,” Jackson shared. “The process was seamless and Terron was there to guide me. I am so happy with the results that I have actually started spreading the word about PathStone to people within my network.”
Jackson has plans to buy a commercial building from which he can operate his cleaning business as well as a personal development and leadership training consultancy. Jackson is a certified John Maxwell speaker and trainer. He is also now under contract with PathStone to provide technical assistant to other entrepreneurs working with PECI to develop their business.
According to PathStone’s Grant, “Mr. Jackson’s drive is what separates him from other loan seekers. His ability to work through obstacles that present themselves and stay focused on his goal made it an absolute pleasure to work with him.”
With PathStone’s support, trust and assistance, Jackson has been able to go above and beyond his goals as a business owner. Going forward, he will have the tools and experience needed to continue to take his business to new heights.