Bobbie Gillman is skilled at figuring things out. So, when the busy mother of 4 wanted more flexibility in her work, she leveraged her 25-year career in engineering into starting her own business, Maple Hill Engineering, LLC.
Like many entrepreneurs she asked herself what she enjoyed doing most and what types of projects gave her the most satisfaction. The answer for Gillman was bringing teams together to improve processes. Almost everything in business is a process – from taking an order, providing customer service, making a product, accounting for transactions, etc.. Throughout her career, Bobbie learned that broken processes affect the ability to do a job well; and what she really enjoyed was challenging the status quo.
Once Gillman formed her company, her biggest challenge was marketing the business. She set up shop at Innovation Pointe by joining the Coworking Space and got actively involved with the Chamber. The Friday networking events helped her gain traction in getting better known in the community and helped form a foundation for her business.
At one of the networking events, Rick Culiver from Leiberman Technologies joked with her that if she could fix the concession operations at Castle football games, she could fix anything. Gillman rose to the challenge, went to the game and watched the concession process; which she agreed was a mess with huge backups of over a hundred spectators trying to get to the counter. Lost sales and frustrated fans were apparent.
Gillman developed a flow plan and shared the process with Culiver. He got her in front of the boosters who embraced her suggestions. This helped her make a name for herself, but also marketed her valuable services and talents through a situation many can relate to.
As her business took off, Gillman has worked on a range of projects— from designing office spaces and managing implementation, to designing factory floor layouts for optimal product flow.
Currently, Gillman is balancing a factory design in Atlanta and a local project with retail chain Pet Food Centers – developing standard operating procedures, training and orientation processes. Mike Stepto, President and CEO of Pet Food Centers believes in a philosophy of “Train hard; Manage easy.” The thorough documentation of processes throughout the store is labor intensive and requires skilled technical writers, but Gillman and Stepto believe the effort will result in increased profits, decreased turnover and a better customer experience.
Gillman made the decision to became a certified Woman Business Enterprise after random contact by a larger firm looking for a WBE subcontractor with lean expertise. Recently, the designation won her business a state contract.
Her advice for other entrepreneurs is to stay the course. It takes time as well as effort to figure out what marketing works for your business and to build a network – even for someone that is good at figuring things out.
- Article by: Growth Alliance president, Ellen Horan
Cowork Evansville is managed by the Growth Alliance team