Pamela Murphy - VMI Furniture Solutions LLC
Pamela was working as a government contractor for Access Systems Inc and was going to school to get her degree in Business Administration and Management. During that time the commercial furniture installation company that her husband was working for went out of business without much notification from the owners. Pamela and her husband decided at that point they would just go into business for themselves. He had the field experience and she had the office experience and in March 2008, they started their own company.
They install commercial office furniture systems and cubicle systems and office furniture. This year in August 2019, they just added selling commercial furniture to the services they provide. They started by getting their business license and getting incorporated soon thereafter. They purchased some dollies and a few panel carts, Pamela's husband was calling everyone he knew in the business, and they looked up furniture dealers asking how they could become their preferred installation company and it just grew from there. Her husband and her younger brother were out installing, and she was handling all the paperwork and background work for the company.
They are looking to secure more multi-year government and state contracts. They currently have two 5-year contracts for the state of Virginia. They are in their 2nd year for the 1st contract that they won and have just started their 2nd contract in October of 2019. They just won their first federal government contract directly in September of 2019.
"I wish I had remembered earlier that services for veterans were offered. We really could be at our ten-year goals right now as we have been in business for almost twelve years now."
Goals: In the next ten years we want to build our own facility. We want to have partnerships with multiple commercial furniture dealerships where we are doing business in all 50 states. We would also like to offer our services for US government facilities stationed outside of the United States. We would like to have a strong project management team that can oversee these multiple territories.
Advice: First, get a good bookkeeper and CPA. That is an expense that you CANNOT afford to NOT have. Sure, it may seem good to save a lot of money up front and conserve cashflow BUT they will keep you out of trouble with the IRS. That's a lesson we learned the hard way. We ran into some tax issues because we started making more money than we first anticipated, and I made some very costly mistakes doing our taxes myself. We lost a lot of money hiring a couple different companies to help us fix it who didn't fix it. We finally found a company and they helped us straighten out a lot of things with the IRS. They also recommended we change the structure of our company from a C-Corporation to an LLC as we were being double taxed on things that should not have been. C-Corporations are set up for large corporations and an LLC better suited our company being small with less than 10 employees. That's something I wish we had have known from the very beginning.
Second, take care of your team and they will take care of you. The morale of your team is very important. You want to make sure you release any employees that do not fit well with your team. When the morale is high, your crew is more efficient and it's just an overall good work atmosphere for our team and our clients. We always get compliments on how well and professional our team is and how well they work together. We love our team. We are small but we work like we are triple the manpower we actually have.
Finally, keep good records and know the state of your affairs at all times concerning your business. Especially the finances so you can be sure that whoever you use to handle the financial portion of your business is not missing a beat. You should know where you are heading in the future and build your business with that goal in mind. Example, for government contracts, a lot of paperwork and past performance is required. If you know you will qualify to apply for those things in about two years, start a folder and start gathering those things that will be required. This way when the day arrives where you are qualified to go ahead and submit your paperwork, all is in order. Keep all your affairs in order. You will be glad you did when you achieve your goals.
Background: Pamela served for 5 years active duty in the United States Navy. #HOOYAH! She served during the Kosovo Campaign and Operation Enduring Freedom. Pamela was an Aviation Boatswains Mate Fuels, 3rd Class Petty Officer (ABF3). She served 4 years on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt CVN-71 and served 1-year shore duty Naval Station Norfolk, Oceana Detachment, Air Operations.