It’s about knowing the right time

right time to start a businessThey say that timing is everything. We’d add that knowing the right time to start a business is priceless.

Rafael Figueroa know that he wanted to not only be successful in business and provide better for his family; he wanted to leave his own legacy.

He knew he wanted to use his skills and experience working with a regional heating and refrigeration company to start his own business. He had the industry knowledge and knew what it took to do the actual skill work of the business, but to be successful, he recognized that it would take learning the business side of things.

He had heard a little about the Kansas SBDC through Liberal Area Chamber of Commerce in Liberal, Kansas and on the radio and decided to contact Mike O’Kane with the Kansas SBDC at GCCC in Liberal. He didn’t know where to start and needed some help. Working with O’Kane, he quickly learned what he’d need to not only get the business started, but what it would take to make it successful. Because HVAC is a highly-regulated industry O’Kane took the time early on to work with Figueroa to research all the licensing and certifications necessary to operate the business.

After their initial work together Figueroa decided that the timing wasn’t ideal. And, while it’s tough for many individuals wanting to get started, he waited patiently until the timing was right.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Stay motivated, keep a positive mind set and be proactive in growing your business.–Rafael Figueroa

Figueroa didn’t give up his dream. Instead, he used the time to acquire his Master’s Certificate in Mechanical Contracting – something that by working with O’Kane early on he realized he’d need to obtain a City of Liberal business license. He used the time to save additional money and increase his owner’s equity so he wouldn’t have to take out any loans to get the business started.

When Figueroa was ready to launch he felt confident contacting O’Kane again to get help with the process.

Together they got the ball rolling and quickly obtained an FEIN and applied for the Kansas Department of Revenue sales tax certificate. They discussed record keeping and payment solutions as well as the overall organization of the business. Early on he decided to hire an accountant for bookkeeping, freeing his time to concentrate on working at the business.

In addition to the free consulting provided by O’Kane, Figueroa took advantage of the “Steps to Start-Up” seminar led by O’Kane at the Seward County Community College/Area Technical School and where O’Kane’s office is located.

Working together to get Heco Heating and Cooling off the ground in Liberal, Kansas, has been rewarding for both men.

Figueroa believes that by waiting for the right time to open his business he was successful from the start. By working with the Kansas SBDC and Mike O’Kane he was better prepared by realizing early on the timing wasn’t right. And for O’Kane this was great to experience. “It’s rewarding to see an entrepreneur plan for their business before they open and to see him become successful,” shared O’Kane. “I think Rafael is a great example for aspiring entrepreneurs who have recognized that they needed help and asked for it, used recommendations, and works hard and plans for growth in his business.”

And success has been good for the Liberal community. Since opening in 2013, Figueroa has purchased two service trucks and grown to add four full-time employees.

Figueroa has some great advice for other entrepreneurs, “Don’t be afraid to get help from a professional. Don’t hesitate to get started.” And for individuals currently in business today, “Stay motivated, keep a positive mind set and be proactive in growing your business.” Figueroa shared his keys to success: “Self-motivation, drive, follow your own road.”


About HECO Heating and Cooling

Business Owner: Rafael Figueroa
Nature of business: HVAC
Business: Heco Heating and Cooling
1510 N Fairview Ave
Liberal, KS 67901
City, County: Liberal, Seward County
Phone: 620-253-2123


About our consultant

Mike O'KaneMike O’Kane | consultant with Kansas SBDC at SCCC/ATS in Liberal

Mike has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Ft. Hays State University. He has 35 years’ experience in retail management and operations, including the position of President for two retail companies and is himself a former small business owner. Mike has expertise in sales, financial management and analysis, and cash flow projections.

Mike enjoys working with small businesses to help them start, run and grow their business. He can be reached at or 620-417-1955

Hard work grows a business

hard work grows a business

Dexter Pfeifer, owner of Pfeifer Landscaping, has demonstrated how hard work can grow a business. He created the business because of his love of landscaping and desire to own something of his own. What started as a passion has developed into a full-fledged landscaping business with a complete list of services including, but not limited to installing and repairing sprinkler systems, lawn maintenance, and landscape design. During the colder months, the business even offers snow removal services.

The business is located in Colby, Kansas, but has expanded to serve much of Northwest Kansas. Mr. Pfeifer reflects, “The greatest challenge was getting started.” His Kansas SBDC consultant sat down with him and went through the business plan and loan process step-by-step. “It taught me a lot about business and marketing I did not know before. It helped me look at the business at a different angle,” explained the owner.

Mr. Pfeifer is constantly surprised by the demand for services. One of his biggest successes has been the positive response to the business’ quality work. Even as the business grows, Dexter is planning for future expansion. His advice for budding entrepreneurs, “Make sure your heart is in it. Make sure this is something you want to put 80-100 hours a week into and still wake up with a smile on your face, ready to go to work.”


“Working hard. When it comes down to the business you don’t have any days off. you learn from your mistakes and get better the next day.”

Owner: Dexter Pfeifer

Nature of Business: Landscaping Service

City, County: Colby, KS

Phone/E-mail: (785) 462-0134  /

Structure: Sole Proprietorship:

Began: 2012

Employees: 3 full-time, 3 part-time

KSBDC Consultant: Megan Horinek

Get to Know the Consultant:

The American Dream is alive and well in Cottonwood Falls


The American Dream is alive in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas

The American Dream is still alive. Living where you want to live. Working where you want to work. Many of us dream about it, a select few of us make it happen.

“I’ve been a mechanic all my life and had gained experience and expertise over the years. I saw an opportunity in my community to buy an existing mechanic shop and along with this, an opportunity to make a living in my home community without having to drive to a job away from home every day,” shared Dustin Maddox. “I knew I had the expertise to provide excellent service and saw the chance to own a business of my own.”

For Dusty, this dream became a possibility when he heard that the local automotive repair shop was for sale.

To find out not only what was involved in buying the business, but to decide what a fair price for the business would be and what it would take to be successful he would need some help. Dusty had heard about the Chase County E-Communities program. The Chase County E-Communities program is a program offered by the Chase County Economic Development, Inc Committee to encourage entrepreneurial activity in Chase County. It was created through a Kansas Center for Entrepreneurship Tax Credit program in 2008. Qualifying entrepreneurial projects may include start-up businesses, as well as existing business purchases and/or expansions.

To potentially take advantage of the low-interest loans offered by the e-communities program and evaluate the opportunity to purchase the existing automotive repair shop in Cottonwood Falls, Dusty knew he would need help to get his plans on paper and with the application. To get help he contacted the Kansas SBDC at ESU in Emporia and began working with Lisa Brumbaugh, regional director and consultant. Lisa was the perfect consultant for Dusty’s needs. She had extensive expertise in financing, the process of buying and selling businesses, as well as business valuation – a key to determining initially the value of the purchase.

Lisa provided consulting free-of-charge to Dusty and together they worked on his plans and financial projections. They dug deep into analyzing the market he’d be serving, how he’d maximize billable hours, what taxes the business would be responsible for, and critical expense estimates associated with running the business. They left no stone unturned and investigated everything he’d need upfront to avoid any later surprises.

Several solutions and quite a bit of insight can be generated as part of the business transition (buy/sell) consulting process. Kansas SBDC consultants work with potential buyers of existing businesses to determine a range of purchase prices using recognized evaluation standards. Then as consultants they evaluate how this price range would impact future cash flow of the business helping the client, or potential future buyer, determine if and what is feasible to pay for the purchase. Consultants work with clients to estimate potential fluctuations in sales due to seasonality, what form of legal ownership would work best, and what types of items to be aware of during the actual business buy/sell transaction (i.e. sales contracts needed, list of assets being purchased, etc.). Future profit/loss and cash flow projections often become a make or break point for the buyer to determine if financially the business, once purchased, can be successful.

Lisa worked with Dusty guiding him through the process. She knew that he’d benefit greatly by getting his plans on paper and she could help him out tremendously by pointing out things he may not have thought about as a future business owner.

By working on financial projections early on Dusty was better prepared to not only own the business, but purchase it at a fair price. And on March 10, 2014, Dusty’s Repair went from dream to reality.

Dusty was able to successfully transition the business for himself and his community. The business has surpassed all income projections. The community now has a mechanic and general welder available full-time five days per week. An increase over the previous limited service hours provided by the business he purchased.

And Dusty’s family wins too. The Maddox family can raise their three children in a community they love.

Now what made this truly a success was something you probably don’t hear often. Dusty knew he wanted to own a business in his community, but he was very realistic about his expectations and was not stuck on owning this business at any cost. He wanted it to work the way it should and was prepared to walk away if realistic projections didn’t prove the business could be financially feasible.

By reaching out and getting help and being prepared to walk away, Dusty laid the groundwork to build a long-term successful and a needed business in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas.

Dusty’s Repair is a perfect example of what a small business can mean to a community, how much a community can lend its support through e-community financing, and a supportive local bank. It’s the story of how a small town rural Kansas resident can find a way to live and work in his own community and realize the American Dream.

Dusty’s keys to success:

“Be known and trusted by people in your community. And have a great location that’s visible from the highway and easily accessible.”

About Dusty’s Repair:

Business owner: Dustin Maddox

Business name: Dusty’s Repair LLC

Address: 101 Union St, Cottonwood Falls, KS 66845

Phone: 620-273-8693

About Kansas SBDC consultant

Lisa Brumbaugh, Kansas SBDC at ESU regional director, shares her industry knowledge and experience by consulting in addition to managing the regional center. Lisa has expertise in financial analysis, business valuation, business planning, and business transition. Lisa can be reached at or 620-341-5308.