HCDC recently welcomed a new chairman of the board with a unique perspective. Brent Messmer (pictured), the President and CEO of Matrix companies, first started his business as a two-man operation inside the Business Center. We asked him about his early days in the incubator and what the future holds for HCDC.
1. How did you first hear about HCDC and its incubator program at the Business Center?
Like everything…the internet. I was searching for office space close to my home and came across the Hamilton County Business Center and Pat Longo. The more I learned about their services, the more I knew it was more than just office space. It was the perfect environment to start a business. I knew the huge risk I was taking so having that type of support and services they provided made it an easy and welcomed option.
2. How would you describe your experience?
What an unbelievable experience. Our first office was located behind the elevator shaft; and had uneven concrete floors. We put 2×4’s under our file cabinets to level them so the doors wouldn’t fly open; if I lifted my legs up off the ground my chair would roll forward into my desk. It didn’t matter though. We were following our dream and running a hundred miles an hour.
We quickly expanded into nicer space in the building. I think they retired our first office after we moved out…
As far as the overall experience, I remember the energy. It was a bunch of entrepreneurs running around trying to create businesses to feed their families, create jobs, etc. It was awesome!
3. What value did the incubator provide that contributed to the success of your business?
Being surrounded by other entrepreneurs was awesome and kept me motivated on a daily basis. There was something in the air, a constant energy and buzz within the incubator.
A great location and reasonable cost of rent allowed us to focus on the business and minimize the expense for office space.
The ongoing coaching to discuss strategic ideas, business challenges, etc from Pat Longo was extremely valuable. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone and gave me coaching on how to deal with issues that were new to me.
My insight is further backed by a recent Third Frontier evaluation which ranked the Hamilton County Business Center the top incubator in the State of Ohio based upon strategy, entrepreneurial assistance, graduate track record, and experience of the Incubator team.
Results are all that matter when you are talking about incubation programs. No other incubator does what we do or has had the long-term success that we’ve had. The Third Frontier report certainly supports that statement.
4. Why did you want to be Board Chair?
I am passionate and proud of the mission, staff and the long-term success of HCDC. The incubator, economic development and business lending teams are second to none. As I budget my time in areas that are important to me, I wanted to be part of the company that meant so much to me. When the opportunity to join the Board presented itself I jumped at the chance; which has snowballed to Board chair.
5. Where do you see HCDC going?
Building on 30 years of success, I see great things continuing for HCDC. It is a marathon not a sprint, which is why our track record of success is what it is. However, we are focused on executing our strategic plan which includes expansion in our programs, services and geographic reach.