When her company won a $2 million contract from the federal government, Maria Sandra Pineda, the president and CEO of Medical Equipment Solutions Corp., was joyous.
The cheering stopped, however, when she realized she needed to get financing – quickly – to buy the medical machines and supplies needed.
“We were at a deadlock,” she explained. “We had never really approached the market for the financing we needed.”
Almost as if on cue, she had accepted an invitation to a Small Business Administration (SBA) Emerging Leaders event where she met guest speakers from the Florida SBDC at FIU, the small business development center at Florida International University’s College of Business, which provides no-cost consulting to entrepreneurs and small-business owners.
She decided to get the confidential guidance provided by the SBDC experts, who assisted and introduced her to the Miami Bayside Foundation, which provides loans to qualifying small businesses in the City of Miami. Soon Pineda had the loan she needed to fulfill the delivery of the contract.
“The process was amazing,” she said. “If I had gone with conventional banking, it may have taken six months. We signed the contract on our loan in one month.”
Medical Equipment Solutions has been in existence for 18 years, which is considered a longevity in the business world. For 16 of those years, Pineda said, they rented and sold medical equipment, while also helping patients and insurance companies.
Then she was introduced to the various certifications offered through the 8(a) Business Development Program, like the Woman Owned Small Business. Her world of opportunities got larger – a lot larger. The family-run company became federally certified.
“That allowed for us to compete and go after sole source contracts,” Pineda said. “Our company is now 60 percent government contracting.”
She said Medical Equipment Solutions has expanded into other capabilities — warehousing, exporting and logistics. The company also has obtained international contracts.
“I never imagined that I would be doing what I am doing now,” Pineda said. “It’s fascinating, and I’m so excited.”
She is surely living the American dream. As the daughter of U.S. immigrants, Pineda said her life was more about surviving than thriving.
“My parents really struggled,” said Pineda, who was working jobs at the young age of 16. “They were meeting our needs, not getting us to think of an expansive mindset.”
Her work ethic, determination and perseverance has now paid off.
She strongly advises for small business owners, and especially those owned by women to seek out the free resources and guidance through the SBA and the SBDC. While Pineda initially approached the Florida SBDC at FIU for help with financing, she has now moved on to getting guidance on human resources because of the company’s growth.
“It helped us get to the next level,” Pineda said. “I’m living proof.”