Fall 2018 South Bay EMBC 3rd Place Winner
Pitch Link: https://vimeo.com/310168690/603c9b9b4c
Company Bio: Wepa Commercial Cleaning based out of San Diego, California was established in 2015 and has obtained the following certifications: SDVOSB, DVBE, MBE, SB (Micro) and SDB. As a reliable and dedicated Military Veteran I run my company in the same fashion and standards as the U.S. Armed Forces—nothing short of excellence. My organization skills—combined with my ability to move efficiently to complete duties on or ahead of schedule—prepares me to make a strong contribution to your team as a possible vendor. At Wepa Commercial Cleaning we strive to exceed expectations through our dedicated personnel, innovation, and a commitment to customer satisfaction.
Francisco Rivera, the founder of Wepa Commercial Cleaning, actually fell into owning his own business. At the time, Francisco was working at Monster Energy as the Trade Development Manager of Sales and Marketing, while also pursuing his MBA. His wife told him about an opportunity to purchase a franchise of a janitorial company. Francisco thought this was intriguing to do as a side job. While operating the franchise for a year and a half, Francisco was able to get a better understanding of how the model worked. He finally came to the realization that the franchise owner was taking too much then what they were putting in. So he decided to work as a consultant for marketing where he would find accounts for other franchise owners. After about a year he was bought out, and he stumbled into the SBA to see how he could open his own business.
One thing led to another and Wepa was born. While absorbing all of the knowledge he had learned while owning the franchise, Francisco was able to implement better processes using his format. Wepa developed a competitive advantage that benefits their clients by having the highest military standard for cleaning. Francisco managed to bring in clientele like the DMV, the State building, private companies, schools, and even gyms. One thing that Francisco noticed is that other janitorial companies do not conduct weekly and random inspections, so he added this benefit for their customers. Francisco prides himself on having open and honest communication where the clients feel comfortable enough to confide in them.
Towards the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey, Francisco was invited by the SBDC to dinner at the Marriott in downtown where there were 49 tables with about 10 people per table. They were awarding entrepreneur of the year, small business of the year, woman of the year, and many other awards. Francisco was placed with his wife on table 49, and this struck a chord with him. He swore to his wife that next year he would be in the front and win an award. Sure enough, the very next year he won the small business of the year award. Not only that, this year Francisco was nominated for entrepreneur of the year (the results will come out this December). This really put Wepa on the map.
On the flip side, they faced their fair share of issues along the way. At the beginning, Wepa only had a few accounts they were working with. Once they started landing state contracts they were a little tight with their cash flow. So this forced them to go after a small business loan from ACCION. Being able to navigate with larger accounts was a huge jump, and it was difficult to make payroll since it took more money to cover the orders. They had to dip into their savings account to make sure people were paid, but nevertheless they were able to overcome this stressful obstacle.
Francisco joined the South Bay EMBC to challenge himself and see what he needed to do to reach the next level. When he joined the cohort, he was able to connect with other entrepreneurs where everyone collaborated to solve the pressing issues facing their companies. This network led to a healthy dialogue and camaraderie with other entrpreneurs, which Francisco found to be very useful. The biggest takeaway that he got from the Challenge was the importance of making connections with fellow entrepreneurs. By taking in multiple perspectives, he was able to utilize information from others that was eyeopening for him. Every year Wepa has seen increased revenue growth, and since joining the EMBC revenue increased from $105,000 to $200,000. Francisco also had to expand his team to support his growth so he hired 5 more employees.
Even though Francisco has experienced so much success in a short amount of time, he still has the humility to get his hands dirty. His approach of leading by example has taken Francisco to expand beyond his current market. In the next 5 years, Francisco looks to possibly exit, if the numbers are right, so he may go on to his next project. Until then he looks foward to becoming the number one janitorial company in all of San Diego. That is quite a large goal, but he never backs down from a challenge. Francisco states that the EMBC is a must for all business owners no matter how much you think you know. The network that the EMBC provides helps small business owners collaborate and work together on a common goal. Not only that, but they can all utilize each other’s resources to help soften the everyday burdens that arise with owning a company.
Francisco was asked while being a keynote speaker how he could leave being a military police officer for 15 years to transition into the janitorial space. This was ironic for him because when he was younger and left Puerto Rico for New York all his family and him would do was clean. Everything came full circle. Life is full of surprises and this is why Francisco says that there is no reason to not take any chances when the opportunity is there for the taking. The passion and the drive is the most important thing for an entrepreneur. The money will always come as long as the passion is there. With that being said, Wepa Commercial Cleaning has exceeded all expectations and they are ready for their next challenge. If you want to check out Francisco and Wepa Commercial Cleaning go to wepacommercialcleaning.com.