Operations Success Stories

For this small business owner, successful entrepreneurship is a family tradition 

Chinedu Okoro began working at his parents’ janitorial services company just after finishing college at Chapel Hill. He needed the money, they needed the help – a win-win for that moment in time. He helped his parents’ company grow, but what also happened is that experience opened doors to the business opportunity he would start on his own.

One of the tasks his parents needed help with was buying janitorial supplies, and with finding ways to purchase them directly rather than going through multiple distributors. By helping them, he discovered a need for what would later become his company, Continental & Global Services.

Continental & Global Services, based in Miami-Dade County, sells janitorial supplies and other products to government entities and to large janitorial companies, helping its customers save money while acquiring quality products. “Our company is founded on a simple principle: fulfilling customers’ needs by maximizing their budget potential,” the company’s website says.

Since the pandemic, Okoro has focused on growing Continental & Global Services’ eCommerce platform and expanding the company’s government contracting business. To that end, he is applying for a couple of key government contracting certifications – the 8(a) and the GSA. The GSA certification, in particular, will help him land more sales from the government, as the General Services Administration is like the Amazon for government, he says.

Over the years, Okoro has sought out the advice and assistance of Florida SBDC at FIU, the small business development center within the university’s College of Business that provides no-cost business consulting to small businesses in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. SBDC at FIU’s consultants have provided him with knowledge about all aspects of business, including exporting, government contracting, sales and marketing. He’s also attended webinars and talks, because, as he says, “you don’t know what you don’t know, and there is always someone who does.”

Since 2016, the early years of his business, Okoro has been working with SBDC at FIU consultant Shelly Bernal, who specializes in international business and business strategy. She has been his resource for exporting expertise, but the help goes way beyond that.

“Shelly has probably been the biggest help that I’ve ever had from day one,” he said. “With the hard work that I provided and the wealth of information that [SBDC at FIU] provided, the combination of the two, I was able to help us leapfrog that large jump from our first year to our third year in business,” he says. And that has continued.

“I always reach out to Shelly, and then she would either be able to assist or point me in the right direction or sometimes she will even see something that she feels might be beneficial to our business, and then she would tell me, hey, I think you should register for this or I think you should participate in that.”

Over the years, SBDC at FIU consultants Luis Batista and Matthew Block have also helped him with government contracting. Adriana Madrinan, a former consultant, also worked with Okoro on business strategy, and he has hired interns from FIU as well.

His advice to fellow entrepreneurs? “Definitely get help from day one.” A small business owner cannot be an expert in everything from marketing, website development and human resources to government contracting, exporting and strategic planning, he says. In addition to SBDC there are a lot of community resources available to entrepreneurs; for instance he also participated in Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses at Miami Dade College. “Someone always knows something you don’t know,” he says.

Getting help is not unlike working with a coach, Okoro says.

“I was a professional athlete, and even from a young age, I used to run track in seventh grade, I’ve always had a coach — middle school, high school, college and professionally. Even in the gym, I have a personal trainer. If you can, get someone to help steer you and you will make less mistakes.”

Okoro also has some advice for family businesses too: “Stay strong.” He might need some of that advice with his next task: Succession planning.

His parents are getting ready to retire, and they want their businesses, including their own janitorial services company, to stay in the family for generations. In the next two to five years, Okoro will become a part owner in that business and also run it, in addition to Continental.

His parents’ company, a 30-year-old company that is much bigger than Continental, handles large government contracts for janitorial services from the state of New York all the way down to Florida. For example, they handle services for airports, school districts, libraries and transit services.

“My goal will be to figure out how to manage two firms, and whether we’re going to merge the two or keep them separate,” Okoro says. He also wants to figure out how to take all the family  businesses to the next level “so they are around for the next generation and even the generation after that.”

Continental & Global Services, Inc.

Website: continentalgs.com

Instagram handle: Continental_Global_Services


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