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Success Story: Florida

Joe And Sons Olive OilsJoe and Son’s Olive Oils comes to fruition with help of Florida SBDC at USF

In the summer of 2011, Andrea Messina Gebbia had an idea for a retail business and a partial business plan. All she needed was some direction to get her started. That’s when she reached out to the Florida SBDC at USF.

“My family has been in the grocery business here in Tampa since the 1930s, so I always just sort of had this passion for food and cooking but never really wanted to go to culinary school,” Gebbia said.

Gebbia’s great-grandfather, Giuseppe (Joe) Favata, left Sicily and eventually established Joe and Sons Grocery in historic Ybor City, in 1938.

“He, like me, was just trying to pursue his American dream,” she said. “This was my way of paying tribute to the family store.” 

Joe and Son’s Olive Oils opened in November 2011 on Bay to Bay Boulevard, as a retail store specializing in olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

In 2011, prior to opening her doors, Gebbia sought out the FSBDC at USF for training and consulting.  “I’d heard it was a wonderful resource for people starting a small business and I just kind of needed some help,” she said.

She went on to take three training seminars and meet with multiple certified business consultants in their areas of expertise, including finance, marketing, taxes, bookkeeping and web optimization.

She says she has learned some valuable lessons along the way.

“I was scared to death to start a business with the economy the way it is and [the FSBDC at USF] didn’t tell me I was crazy,” she said. “What I got was two-fold. Not only did they provide great information but I think it helped me with my confidence to move forward.”

Gebbia has taken the advice she got from experienced consultants, and put it to work in her business.

“Yanina taught me that I can’t just sit back waiting for customers to come in,” she said. “So I’m at monthly fresh markets  in Hyde Park and Carrollwood. I get so many people that say ‘I see your place all the time, I’ve been meaning to come in.’ I think that little bit of personal interaction is what it takes to get them to stop in versus just drive by.”

Yanina Rosario is an associate director and certified business consultant with FSBDC at USF.

Implementing consultant recommendations into her business has resulted in one full-time and five part-time employees, and more than $200,000 in gross revenues in 2013.

“The bulk of everything she got from us, she’s actually implemented,” Martin Zients, FSBDC at USF certified business consultant, said. “She’s taken advantage of our services – lock, stock and barrel.”

Moving forward, Gebbia said she intends to stay connected with the FSBDC at USF.

“As a small business owner, I’ve been a little bit of a slave to the business, but now, moving forward, I really want to focus more on building and growing the business,” she said. “I’m considering opening up another location in north Tampa, so, at that point, I will certainly be looking for some advice to make sure that we’re not growing too fast. I’m going to continue to meet with consultants and take classes as needed.”

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