Rainbow Distributors USA Inc. distributes and repackages telecommunication products for the commercial telecommunications industry. Success has come from Kyle and Tami Kilger teaming up with the Central Florida Business Incubation Center (CFBIC).
"I would never expect a company with four people to win something like this," Kyle Kilger says. "I’m very surprised and very pleased." The award is also a milestone for the incubator. "It’s the first time we’ve entered; it’s exciting for our incubator to win the first time out," says Wayne Hardy, the center’s executive director.
A husband-wife team, the Kilgers attribute much of their success to the CFBIC, a 37,500-square-foot manufacturing and mixed-use facility. They started the business out of their home in late 1995, but it was difficult to separate work life from home life, Kilger says. He stumbled on the incubator by accident, while looking for warehouse space. The company applied, was accepted and entered in 1997. What the company was able to save in rent — which Kilger says would have been two to three times higher in the private sector — it could spend on other aspects of the business.
Once Rainbow was at the center, vendors and customers began to stop by. Other incubator clients also became customers.
"It was important to get out to the public sector — [otherwise] we wouldn’t have grown," Kilger says. "Instead of picking something out of my garage, [customers are] coming to a site with inventory and desks — a business."
He and Tami have complementary skills. She is familiar with managing people, payroll, taxes and purchasing. He has the sales and service experience and the contacts to parlay into potential suppliers and customers.
Hardy praises their management talent. "They’re very focused individuals. They know what they want and are very willing to put the time and effort into it."
"We’ve helped them in providing visibility ... and have provided marketing opportunities for them. We’ve been a sounding board," he says.
Kilger agrees that Rainbow has benefited from the promotional contacts CFBIC provides, and from its modern facilities close to Central Florida’s I-4 Corridor, allowing easy access for customers who buy on site and for product deliveries.
Tami handles all the paperwork by computer at home. That way she can take care of their two young children and maintain a vital role in the company. "Another company would want somebody coming into the office every day. We can take care of our kids and be successful. In our own business, we can make our own decisions," Kilger says.
Rainbow, which was among CFBIC’s first clients (the center celebrated its three-year anniversary in February 2000), has grown from a start-up in 1997 to more than $3 million in total annual revenue in 1999.
"The down side is we [didn’t take] a vacation in four years," Kilger says. "It’s been a struggle, but it’s been very rewarding."
In addition to distributing new products, including wiring, connectors and cabling, Rainbow became a source for second generation technology parts to independent telephone companies in the United States and Canada. Big companies are constantly upgrading, Kilger says, and throw away the relatively new telecom cards, computer chips and other parts. His company tests, repackages and sells these recycled parts to smaller companies to keep their systems running.
Rainbow started with the minimum space allowed in CFBIC — 1,500 square feet — and now uses 4,500 square feet. "Within a year and a half we’re looking for a 10,000- or 15,000-square-foot building," Kilger says. The incubator is assisting him in locating and obtaining financing for the new building, which the Kilgers will buy or build in the Sanford area.
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