Longview entrepreneur says small biz courses helped him keep clean machine running

Aaron Florczykowski took the clean route to entrepreneurship.

As Longview-area franchisee for ChemDry, Florczykowski hopes to clean up the carpets and upholstery of East Texans. When he purchased the franchise in 2007, he already had experience with the company.

“I worked for a franchise for about a year and a half while I was attending college in Syracuse, New York,” Florczykowski said. “The process they use is unique, and their customers always said ‘Wow, no one else could get that out.’ ”

But Florczykowski said he knew he could use some outside eyes and expertise. He found both through a course offered by the Kilgore College Small Business Development Center, which is designed for people who have either made the leap into business or who are considering it.

It was a good fit for a first-time businessman who also was new to the area.

After leaving college and New York behind, Florczykowski moved to Florida, where he worked as a youth minister. That’s where he met his future wife, Amanda, and got married.

Two of his brothers wound up going to college at LeTourneau University. That family connection brought him to Longview when the economy in Florida went into the tank early in the most-recent national recession.

Of course, operating a cleaning service is a far cry from working as a youth minister, Florczykowski said. But there were some similarities, in budgeting and organizational skills, that have come in handy.

“Owning my own business has always been a dream of mine, something I always have wanted to do,” he said.

But the dream came with some hesitation on his part.

“Taking the course took the fear out of going into business,” he said. “They go over a lot of the basics and essentials, from bookkeeping to marketing.”

Florczykowski started the business operating out of his house to keep overhead down. He made the move to a separate location in the fall. And he said the information he learned from the SBDC’s eight-week course played a big part.

“They really helped me understand the financial piece of operating a business — things like what happens with a lack of controls and about break even, gross profit and net profit,” he said. “I didn’t have a business background, so that information has been helpful.”

Florczykowski has expanded into a related but separate enterprise — Cloud Commercial Cleaning — which provides a variety of cleaning and janitorial services to commercial customers throughout the region.

“And, we’ve begun the process of expanding our geographic territory for ChemDry,” he said. Florczykowski is working to get a federal Small Business Administration loan that could allow him to take over an existing franchise in the Shreveport area.

Amanda Florczykowski said the support of the small business center had enabled their firm to move forward.

“We’re excited, not intimidated by the economy because we have the tools to survive,” she said.

Florczykowski has fallen back on his contacts at the Kilgore College Small Business Development Center to help weave his way through the process. The strong foundation he has gotten from the center and its staff should help him be successful for years to come, he said.

“I love this business. There’s something new every day,” he said.

The ChemDry process is not a chemical cleaning process, he said. It uses the power of carbonation to extract dirt and grime from carpets and upholstery.

Florczykowski said the environmentally friendly carbonated cleaning substances only require a fraction of the moisture steam cleaners require, a factor that allows carpets to dry more quickly. He said that’s a factor customers appreciate.