By Brad Stager
When James Zanatta started his full-service residential and commercial building contracting company, ProCraft Builders, he knew about hanging drywall and laying a foundation for construction. What he was less sure of were the practical details about operating and managing a business. Fortunately, he was aware of who could help.
Zanatta reached out to the Tampa chapter of SCORE, a nationwide network of experienced business professionals who mentor—without charge—entrepreneurs like Zanatta and operate every imaginable kind of business.
“I knew about them prior to starting my business and I knew I needed some help,” said Zanatta.
The local SCORE chapter connected Zanatta with Kit Werremeyer, who owns an engineering business, Southernstar Consultants, which advises on construction contracting, sales and marketing. He has also published a how-to manual on construction negotiations, Understanding and Negotiating Construction Contracts: A Contractor’s and Subcontractor’s Guide to Protecting Company Assets. It is just the kind of relationship matchup that SCORE seeks to establish with its clients, whether they are starting their own business from scratch or undertaking a franchise opportunity
“We try to give them a realistic overview of what it takes to start a business and sustain a business,” said Werremeyer.
Trust is also an important element of the relationship with SCORE clients, according to Bill Wright, another mentor, who is the president and CEO of First Intelligence Group, which specializes in conducting background checks.
“Confidentiality is a big part of what we do,” said Wright, who has also been a financial services executive and is an Army veteran of more than 20 years service. He conducts SCORE’s Boots to Business workshops for military personnel who are transitioning from active duty to civilian life and work.
Other workshops conducted by the local SCORE chapter include: Going Into Business, Preparing Your Business Plan and Construction Contracts. The organization has also helped local entrepreneurs apply for the Paycheck Protection Program, which supported businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has required SCORE to operate virtually for the most part in the last year, but a return to supporting entrepreneurs in person is anticipated to occur this summer. SCORE’s offices are located at the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center on 2101 E. Palm Ave. in Ybor City.
To find out more about SCORE and how to become a client or mentor, you can visit online at tampa.score.org or call 448-2311.