The Iowa Small Business Development Center at Western Iowa Tech Community College helped Bethany Jones and Richard Mumm establish their soft water distribution company by providing assistance in developing a business plan and financial projections, plus provided market research and advice on inventory control.
Father and daughter team Richard Mumm and Bethany Jones are the owners of Mumm Soft Water, located in Ida Grove, Iowa. They provide a wide variety of water services from installing softeners and related products to delivering bottled water to homes.
Richard worked as a delivery man for Culligan for 12 years. Bethany worked in customer service and business management for the past ten years and recently graduated from the University of Phoenix with an Associates of Arts degree in Healthcare Administration.
The first major obstacle that the team had to overcome to start their business was figuring out the financial side of setting up a business. Luckily, their local bank was very supportive, plus they found the Western Iowa Tech Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
From the first moment of contact, the SBDC was a major part of establishing the business. Bethany and Richard first met with SBDC Regional Director Todd Rausch at the end of July 2013. Todd walked them through all the major parts of establishing a business. This was crucial to Bethany and Richard because even though Bethany had years of customer service and a marketing background, and Richard had years of industry experience, neither had the skills or knowledge necessary to start a business.
During the next two months, Todd was in contact weekly to help Richard and Bethany with all of the difficult financial paperwork and answer questions. Todd helped Bethany and Richard create a business plan, which was then used to apply for financing. Todd went through each part of the new business plan, making sure Bethany and Richard fully understood everything they were getting into. He also covered financial, legal, and personal concerns, plus inventory control.
The next big hurdle was finding customers without spending a lot of money. The SBDC’s market researcher produced some great secondary research for free and Todd helped them find a business conference to attend in Cherokee. There they established contacts and learned more about marketing and other techniques that small businesses use to run their operations smoothly. Once local word of mouth kicked in about the new business, sales started to boom.
Bethany praises the assistance they received from the SBDC saying, “As a small business owner, you make tough decisions on a daily basis. Some of those decisions can be the difference between success and failure. Having the SBDC help you with your small business not only will make your business more successful, but they give you confidence in your ideas as a business owner. They are there not only for business support, but also for the extra emotional support as well. We never would have made this happen without the SBDC. We are so very thankful for Todd and everything he has done to get us this far. I hope our partnership continues as our business grows as well. We hope to be the story others look at and say, ‘That can be me!’ We were at the bottom, starting from nothing. And today, our business is not only successful, but growing weekly by numbers we never even imagined.”
Richard and Bethany also received help from the Ida County Economic Development Corporation, to finance a portion of their needs, and their local bank, which provided the rest of the financing. Bethany said that both organizations were phenomenal to work with.
Mumm Soft Water started business on September 4, 2013, and held its grand opening on November 22, 2013. Todd attended the open house to help Bethany and Richard celebrate their new business.
There are still a few obstacles to overcome before the business will support both of them as full-time employees. Richard and Bethany both have part-time retail jobs to maintain their personal finances. Richard’s wife, Angela, suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and Richard must take her monthly for an infusion treatment, which means closing the business on treatment day. And finally, the business is currently located in a building next to Richard’s home that is not owned by them; they want to rent or purchase the property because it is ideal for their needs. Todd continues to help them with this.
The company has two employees and has seen sales exceed projections by 20%. They contracted over 130 new service customers in their first six months, both residential and commercial. Since opening their doors, Richard and Bethany have contributed to numerous benefits around the community, donating items for raffles, and making contributions to different events. Future plans include more participation in community events like the Ida County Relay for Life and sponsorship of school activities like After-Prom or a soccer team. Family and community are extremely important to Bethany and Richard and they hope to continue being a positive member of Ida Grove’s business community.
For more information on Mumm Soft Water, be sure to check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MummWater or their Pinterest page at http://www.pinterest.com/bethanykay6/mumm-soft-water/.