Blues Angel Music was founded in Pensacola in August of 1997 by retired Navy Captain and fighter pilot Jim DeStafney. He and his wife Nan, a retired Navy forensics officer, have grown the store from its one-man, 1,000 square foot beginnings into a 15,000 square foot, full-line music store, complete with a fully-staffed school of music.
The store has always been a family affair with their son Stephen. Their daughter in-law Sierra, who is also now part of the team, along with Nan, participated in the Florida SBDC at UWF Small Business Management (SBM) Program, led by SBDC consultant Glenn McDuffy.
Stephen is working on his business degree at UWF, but Nan says their involvement with the SBDC is important too. “It’s really all about real world understanding of business, because there are just certain things you learn running a business that aren’t in a text book.”
For Sierra there has been a lot of new information, just in the reading material that McDuffy has given them. She explains, “Understanding how many great entrepreneurial books are out there to learn from, and how many people are out there that go through the same stuff, growing from a small business to a larger business; getting the help to make that jump is huge.”
If you think about all of the things you do on daily basis, you know the “why” behind them, but Sierra says taking the SBM classes has really dissected all of those things and helped. “I’m a ‘why’ person, so it’s helped me to understand why, and how to mold those things together to be better, and more efficient with time management. I’m also a detail oriented person, so this has opened my eyes to a lot of the bigger picture things too.”
In terms of the company, Nan states she has the vision for where it’s going, and Stephen is the implementer. “We’re learning about that relationship, and we’re learning how to make that work, and learning how to work together,” she says. “We divide up those roles better now and make the proper people accountable for the proper things.” She explains that it’s been a big transition from having four people in charge of 40 people who are wondering, “Who do we ask now?” According to Nan, the new, very defined set of accountability is making it better for the employees. “Over the last two years I’ve divided the company up into divisions, so it’s gone from one giant company, into 10 separate divisions, because they’re all so different.” She explains that some are services, some are goods, some have high profit margins, some have low, long-term rentals, short-term rentals, repair center, retail store; etc. She has done that so they can see each division on its own as a business, and instead of budgeting on the aggregate, she’ll be budgeting for each division. “It’s definitely changed my life,” says Nan. “It’s been a part of this accountability and roles thing. Now we have division managers. The company is definitely evolving.” And she states that with all of that comes the responsibility to make sure this keeps going. “Not for us,” she says. “We have 12 children, so this is not about any estate. This is about keeping it intact for the employees. This is about 40 people who depend on us for their food, clothing and shelter for their families.”
On their relationship with the SBDC, and McDuffy specifically, Nan states, “I can’t imagine being in this situation and working with someone who doesn’t love what they do and are passionate about it, plus Glenn has the experience and knowledge. I value his personal opinion, his experience and he’s great at communicating to the class.” To take it a step further, she says what’s even better is the follow up with one on one time to see where YOU are. “Glenn meets you at the point of YOUR need, not just Business 101, because all of the businesses in the program are so different. Not only do you get what’s common to all businesses, like operations, sales, marketing and all that, but you have the face to face time too.”