For the City Times
CAP Services recently named Office Direct Interiors of Stevens Point the winner of CAP’s first Business Expansion Contest.
Office Direct will receive a $1,000 cash prize, free marketing assessment, mentorship through the Packers Mentor-Protégé Program, and referrals for services specific to the business’s needs.
“There are many business plan and business start-up contests available to new entrepreneurs so we wanted to find a way to support and celebrate growing businesses in our area” said Laura West, CAP’s Director of Business Development.
Office Direct sells new and used office furniture and offers customers the option of buying pre-assembled products from their retail showroom or getting customized office furniture that fits their specific needs. Office Direct has established connections in the office furniture industry that allow it to offer competitive prices, transparency in the ordering process and reduced lead times on customized furniture.
The business plans to expand the area it serves and open additional locations across the state.
“We worked really hard to grow our customer base with great service and quality products,” said Cole Corrigan, Office Direct’s owner. “From the response and word-of-mouth referrals by our clients, business really took off, and as a happy result, we’ve had to hire more staff. We’ve come a long way in a short period of time – especially considering we started in the back seat of my car.”
Corrigan started the business in April 2014.
Office Direct was selected from four finalists. Any business within CAP’s five county region – Marquette, Outagamie, Portage, Waupaca and Waushara – operating their business for two years or more with plans to expand their sales footprint was eligible to apply.
“I was really surprised we were chosen,” said Corrigan. “It’s humbling. On top of being a good business, we’ve always tried to give back to the community, and thanks to this kind of recognition, now we can continue to do so.”
More information on Office Direct can be found on their Facebook page.
Contestants completed a questionnaire about their current business operations and expansion plans. Applications were scored by five judges with economic development expertise. Four finalists advanced to a second round of scoring where they presented their business expansion plans in person, giving the judges a chance to ask questions and learn more about the business’s expansion plans.
Contest partners include Fox Valley Technical College, Venture Centre, 1 Million Cups, Fox Cities Regional Partnership, UW-Oshkosh Small Business Development Center, City of New London, New London Economic Development, City of Waupaca, Waupaca Economic Development, New London Area Chamber of Commerce and Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce.
“The connections made between contest finalists and the contest partners have been extremely valuable,” said West, “We’ve received such a positive reaction to this contest from contestants and our partners, we’re looking at making it an annual event.”
CAP Services’ business development program provides services to start-up and expanding businesses, including business plan development, financial analysis and finance packaging that can include working capital and gap financing, marketing plans and one-on-one technical assistance. The services are provided free to low-income entrepreneurs or to businesses that create living wage jobs for low-income individuals.
Since 1988, CAP has assisted with the creation or expansion of more than 400 businesses. In the past five years, CAP supported the development of 64 new businesses that resulted in the creation of 116 living-wage jobs in central and eastern Wisconsin.
CAP Services, Inc. is a private, nonprofit community action agency that has been advancing social and economic justice for low-income people in Marquette, Outagamie, Portage, Waupaca and Waushara counties since 1966. For more information, visit capservices.org.