When Chris Henry wanted to grow his lawn care business, RC Landscape Services, to pursue government contracts in the Kansas City area, he turned to the Missouri APEX Accelerator to help navigate and bid on contracts in the government marketplace.
Henry started his business in 2018 with $20,000 and a vision to enter the lawn care industry. He and a part-time employee contracted with a neighborhood association to care for 50 vacant lots. Nikki Gardner joined the company in 2019 to develop a strategic plan to accelerate the growth of the business and to pursue government contracts.
“We were doing pretty well on the residential side, but I knew I wanted us to tap into the commercial side of things,” Gardner says. “The commercial side has been much more profitable. That’s where I hit a roadblock–trying to make the transition from mostly residential and a little bit of commercial to largely commercial.” The roadblocks involved getting certifications and submitting applications for larger jobs connected to Kansas City government departments.
“I was somewhat familiar with the certifications and the value they bring to minority-owned businesses,” Gardner says. “That’s when I set out to get RC Landscape certified with the city, the state, the Minority Business Enterprise, and the Small Local Business Enterprise. The process was overwhelming.”
It was about then that Gardner saw a resource on the city website. That resource was the Missouri APEX Accelerator, formerly known as Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC).
Gardner contacted Jeff Rosenblatt, business consultant for the Missouri APEX Accelerator.
Business owners can find it challenging to navigate through certifications and bid applications. “We (APEX Accelerator) are kind of a one-stop shop for the government marketplace,” Rosenblatt says. “We are a resource for small businesses to succeed and grow. APEX services are available to any small business owner in the state of Missouri.”
“I had no idea this program Jeff (Rosenblatt) was a part of even existed, but what it did was create a more equitable experience that I don’t think I could have accomplished on my own,” Gardner says. “With the help of APEX, we have grown to 12 employees and taken on large contracts with parks and recreation, the KCMO school district, and the city of Kansas City water supply facilities.” RC Landscape Services has grown from the original 50-lot contract to $500,000 in revenue and growing with help from The Missouri APEX Accelerator program.
The Missouri APEX Accelerator assists businesses--including small, disadvantaged, veteran and women owned firms--obtain federal, state, and local government contracts. It is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the Department of Defense and housed in MU Extension's Business Development Program.