College News

CCCC Small Business Center helps launch new business

CCCC Small Business Center helps launch new business

click to enlarge ⊗

Juan Guerrero, of Sanford, was laid off from hisrnmanufacturing job at Coty in April 2009. He immediately ... (more)

07.15.2010College & Community

SANFORD — Juan Guerrero smiles as he looks back overrnthe past year.

Back in April 2009, Guerrero was laid off from Coty. That’srnnothing to smile about, but he had seen the lay-off coming with the recessionrnand already considered his options.

“Competition for jobs was rough so I thought, why not startrnmy own business?” he said. “The idea of doing that had been brewing for somerntime. I didn’t have the courage or the know-how, but I felt the urge to makernthe leap when a choice had to be made.”

He made a leap in the right direction — into the office ofrnJim Felton, director of Central Carolina Community College’s Small BusinessrnCenter in Lee County. Felton specializes in helping would-be entrepreneurs inrnLee County achieve their dream of owning their own business.

Guerrero’s dream was to have his own lawn service/exteriorrnhome repair business.

“I grew up doing farm work — that’s where my love for thernoutdoors was planted,” Guerrero said.

Felton has been working with and on behalf of smallrnbusinesses in Lee County for more than 14 years. For this, the Sanford ArearnChamber of Commerce recently named him its 2010 Small Business Advocate of thernYear.

“Juan had a goal and was willing to work very hard tornachieve it,” Felton said. “He just needed to know what to do to bring it tornfruition. He has overcome a lot of obstacles and is excited about his future asrna small business owner.”

Felton drew on his years as a small business owner andrnbusiness advocate to assist Guerrero through the practicalities and legalitiesrnof setting up a proprietorship. He also directed him to N.C. Project GATErn(Growing America through Entrepreneurship) where Guerrero worked with counselorrnDon Miller. Guerrero was able to obtain more training and a small grant to helprnhim with start-up costs.

Felton also sent him to Vocational Rehabilitation, whichrnbought him a mower when his was stolen and provided other help. The N.C. RuralrnCenter was also applied to for financial assistance and helped to buy him arnused truck for his business.

Having his own business was a dream Guerrero never imaginedrnback in 1996 when, as a teenager, he was the victim of a shooting that left himrnparalyzed and unable to speak. With intensive physical therapy and speechrntherapy, he overcame those challenges and returned to Lee County High School,rnwhere he graduated in 2000.

He attended college while working two jobs, at a retailrnstore and in his uncle’s landscaping business, where he was a supervisor.rnGuerrero decided to drop out of college, give up the two part-time jobs andrntake a full-time job at a retail store. That ended when he had a bad automobilernaccident and couldn’t drive for a while. Still resilient, Guerrero worked atrnLee County Industries, receiving vocational rehabilitation. In 2008, he landedrnthe job with Coty, which ended with the recession.

After overcoming so many challenges, Guerrero has now takenrnon a major one of having his own business. He’s enthusiastic about what he canrnbuild it into.

Guerrero’s Green Knights Lawn Care Services offers a varietyrnof services, including full lawn care and putting in yards from scratch, asrnwell as pressure washing, painting, building retaining walls, and debrisrnremoval. He said he named the business “Green Knights” because he wants tornincorporate environmentally friendly methods in his work. Also, a knight isrnknown to be honest and trustworthy. The business can be reached at (919)rn895-8581 or online at

Guerrero continues to sit down regularly with Felton tornreview his business plans and goals.

“I wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for the Small BusinessrnCenter,” he said. “It’s been one year since starting and my business isrngrowing. My key is having a customer and quality focus, doing the best job Irncan for the customer.

“With patience and dedication, it’s possible to live thernAmerican Dream,” he added, smiling. “Ten years from now, I see myself with arncrew of maybe four full-time employees. The business is for my kids’ futuresrn— if all goes well, they’ll have a better life.”