When Rob Landers applied for a loan from ACE four years ago, he was declined.
“However, we worked together to improve my credit and analyze how the money was coming in and going out to develop a sound business plan,” he says. “Less than 12 months later, I was approved.”
Today RL Commercial Systems (RLCS), which employs 50 workers, specializes in janitorial and maintenance services across the state. His clients include Georgia Tech, the Department of Transportation, and the city of Smyrna, among others. At 32, he is considered the youngest entrepreneur with multiple contracts in the public sector, and he is the first African-American to operate a business of this kind in the state, and possibly in the country, he says.
“By helping me come up with an action plan, ACE has been pivotal in my growth,” he says. “The capital is important, but ACE offers so many other important resources such as marketing and technical assistance. I always recommend ACE to other business owners who need help.”
Landers grew up in St. Louis and majored in sports medicine at the University of Kansas. While he was in school, he made pocket money by cleaning dorms and student apartments. “I really enjoyed doing that,” he says.
A job with the Spirit Group brought him to Atlanta, where he started moonlighting with a cleaning service as a “one-man show.”
“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, so I thought: Why not turn something I enjoy into a business?”
Landers derives great satisfaction from his business. “Think about it,” he says, “you’re in charge of other people’s livelihoods. That’s a big responsibility, along with customer service and creating a solid company culture.”
Landers strives to keep his employees happy. “We’re not exclusively focused on just the bottom line — we’re a family-oriented business,” he says. “We have casual Fridays when workers can bring their families to the office. We have bowling events. We try balance work and life, and I’ve learned that these measures make our employees more passionate about their work.”
He has big plans for the future. “We are expanding into South Carolina now,” he says, “and our goal for 18 months from now is to establish a franchise. We’re at the point where we’re replicable. I owe much of this success to ACE.”