Being involved in a horrifying and nearly crippling plane crash changed John Meeks’ life. He realized that in the blink of an eye, he could have lost his life. After months of physical therapy, John decided not to return to a miserable job. He wanted to do work that would be enjoyable and make a positive difference in the lives of others. While working with a friend on weatherization, he developed a passion for the eco-friendly, energy-conserving building processes.
In 2006, he started AppleBlossom Insulators, which specializes in cellulose insulation, weatherization and energy audits. Their eco-friendly insulation is made up of recycled newspaper and borates that act as a natural pesticide, flame retardant, and wood preserver. AppleBlossom also has a building science training program led by James McGarvey and Michael Guy that certifies graduates to work in the industry.
After being referred to the SBTDC by Self-Help Credit Union, John visited the UNC-Charlotte SBTDC office located at the Ben Craig Center to get help with seeking funding to provide working capital for expansion. He worked with George McAllister, the Charlotte SBTDC director, and business counselor Lewis Deaton to develop a strong business plan.
Lewis worked with the AppleBlossom team to analyze their financials by developing cash flow projectons and using ProfitCents, a reporting tool that reviews, compares, and offers tips for improvement in general liquidity conditions, profit margins, sales, borrowing, employees, and key ratios compared to the industry. After reviewing AppleBlossom’s financial needs, George and Lewis referred John to developers and SBA lenders. They also encouraged John to participate in the SBTDC’s Becoming an Investor-Ready Entrepreneur workshop designed to educate and prepare growth-oriented entrepreneurs to successfully engage private equity investors.
With the SBTDC’s support and encouragement, AppleBlossom has experienced nearly 100% growth in annual sales, added employees, expanded its training programs for conducting energy audits, and opened an office in Asheville. They have also established an agreement with an “Inflector” product and will be the exclusive manufacturer and distributor of this product in North Carolina. John is thankful for their success and the support of the SBTDC and his “angel” investor and wife, Dr. Jennifer McMillan.
“The goal is to make North Carolina a leader in sustainability,” says John. “We have the talent, but we also need more businesses to be profitable and receive more funding in order to create jobs.”
Story originally featured in the SBTDC's 2009-10 Annual Report.
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