Established in 2013 by proprietor Gregg Haas, All Florida Personnel (AFP) is a locally owned and operated temporary labor agency that focus on the niche market of local construction. The Business Report recently sat down with Haas to discuss the ins and outs of his unique business model, the challenges and rewards of running a high-quality temp agency, as well as his tips for those considering opening a small business in Gainesville.
TBR: The Gainesville business marketplace is one of a kind and growing quickly, which could also be said about your company, in particular. Can you describe what’s special about the service AFP provides for business owners in Gainesville?
Haas: We provide unique temp services in that AFP focuses strictly on the construction labor market. You can call my company and request anywhere from 1 to 20 people and use them for a day or for the duration of your entire job, so it’s extremely flexible.
TBR: What do you think it is that brings contractors coming back to AFP rather than using a competing service?
Haas: What brings people back to AFP is our responsiveness. Actively listening to what the contactors need and also knowing our people and what they are capable of doing ensures us all success.
Also, there is real value for contractors in the fact that I am personally in the field everyday. With AFP, they deal directly with me and/or one of my long-time employees during each interaction. It’s not like other places where sales reps come and go and you never have the same contact for more than a few months. I’m the guy, I’m the contact, and I’m not going anywhere.
There’s additional value in the fact that I live, work, and play right here in Gainesville. It means I’m informed and knowledgeable about where and what the specific needs are for my customers. It also lets me interact with people that are using my product. And I can handle any customer service shortfalls very rapidly.
TBR: In your opinion, what are the biggest benefits and challenges when it comes to operating a small business in Gainesville?
Haas: Well, the relatively small size makes it easier to see more clients and prospects in a given day. Plus, building relationships is easier because you see the same people at many different functions. And there’s the benefit of Gainesville being a top university and college sports town, so there is constantly ongoing new construction and remodeling to keep the city competitive in attracting top faculty, students, and student athletes.
On the flip side, though creating name recognition with out of town customers coming into town for projects can be a challenge. It is difficult to change people’s habits or expect people to try someone they have never heard of even if I know we provide better response, service, and overall satisfaction. Also, as the owner of AFP I have to know what is going on with my business 24/7. Mentally it is a challenge more so than physically. I have to remind myself sometimes to let go of the worry and guilt I feel when taking a trip, going to the gym, or even golfing.
TBR: Where do you see AFP a couple of years from now?
Haas: My immediate goals are to continue to establish the company and brand and compete locally. I want to really set the standard for temporary construction labor. Eventually, I would like to have multiple offices in various mid-sized cities throughout Florida.
TBR: What would be your advice to someone who wants to start a small business in Gainesville? What do you wish someone had told you before you got started?
Haas: Do not worry about the competition. The chances are that you know what sets you apart as a business, so simply focus on that and you’re likely to succeed. Take success and build on it. Setbacks will happen, deals will fall through sometimes. The only thing people cannot take from you is your attitude, so be forward-focused and stay positive.