In 1999, Jason Jones started renting out sound equipment for local concerts and theater productions as a side hustle to support his aspirations as a musician. Over 20 years later, the side job has become a multimillion-dollar business, S&L Integrated.
S&L Integrated now operates on a national scale, with a multi-state staff of managers, salespeople, marketers, engineers and technicians in Thomasville, Georgia, where the company is based, Atlanta and Nashville. Their clients include federal and state government offices and Fortune 500 companies.
Jones credits the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (UGA SBDC) at Valdosta State University for some of this success. From 2007-2009, Jones looked to the SBDC for the basic ins and outs of running a business. Early consulting sessions focused on financial projections and human resources compliance. In recent years Jones has worked with the SBDC to explore federal contracting opportunities.
“The SBDC has done great in pointing me in the right direction at every stage of the business,” said Jones.
Jones began his business by renting out audio equipment and setting it up for clients. They quickly became the experts in the area – the first people to call for any sound or lighting rental needs. Over the years, Jones added design and installation services, working with brands to personalize each audio and visual system according to a client’s exact needs.
“The business from the installation and design standpoint has skyrocketed,” said Jones. Today, less than one percent of sales come from equipment rentals.
When the pandemic hit, S&L’s priorities quickly shifted. Jones reached back out to the SBDC and worked with Alyssa Foskey, a business consultant at the SBDC at Valdosta State University, who helped S&L apply for money from the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). Those funds allowed S&L to retain all of their staff and to move forward stronger.
Jones estimates the company will grow by up to 40 percent in 2022. The team also has created a new five-year plan and is actively hiring new employees. S&L is focused on expanding its Hubzone awareness to expand their client base. Hubzone, a U.S. Small Business Administration certification for businesses located in historically underutilized business zones, awards a percentage of all government contracts to certified businesses. Additionally, the company’s partnership and sales through Team GA Marketplace, a purchasing vehicle for the State of Georgia procurement system that makes it easier to bid on state projects, are expected to grow in 2022.
“Jason has been the ideal client, and he trusts us from the many years of working with the UGA SBDC,” Foskey said. “He calls when he has questions, he takes the information and applies it to his business, then watches the business grow. This is exactly what we want for each of our clients.”
By Irene Wright