COVID Creativity - Rainone Electric & Heating
Business Name: Rainone Electric & Heating
Client Name: Gus Rainone
Location: Middleton, NH
SBDC Advisor: Amy Sterndale
Gus Rainone spent years training for the day when he could start his own business. Growing up in the central New Hampshire area, he attended Lakes Region Community College to study as an electrician before serving as an apprentice for a local electrical contractor.
Eventually, Gus felt he was ready to go out on his own, comfortable knowing he would provide his clients with the best service. What he discovered was there was more to being a good business owner than providing good service.
“There’s a lot that you don’t realize,” Gus says. “I had no business experience.”
So, while Rainone Electric & Heating of Middleton was starting to grow its clientele, Gus started growing his business acumen. He began researching the resources available to business owners and found the NH SBDC and business advisor Amy Sterndale.
“I was looking for a mentor,” says Gus, who was first introduced to the NH SBDC through the Wentworth Economic Development Corporation (WEDCO).
Two years later, Rainone Electric & Heating is thriving, and thanks to the help of the SBDC, Gus is becoming as adept at balancing his books as he is at wiring a new house.
For instance, when Gus was ready to build his own shop in Farmington, he worked with Sterndale and WEDCO to find financing, and they helped him secure it for his building.
“Many times, small business owners are not ready to go through the application process, whether it’s understanding their finances or having a business plan,” says Denise Roy-Palmer, Executive Director at WEDCO. “We are able to help people understand the financial piece, and SBDC does a great job with the technical aspects. It’s a great collaboration.”
With guidance from Sterndale, Gus also secured COVID-19 relief loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration that helped not only ensure he could keep his existing technicians working, but that new jobs were created to help with the pandemic-induced increase in home improvement projects coming in.
Rainone Heating & Electric now has five full-time technicians, and Gus also brought on an administrative assistant to help coordinate the increase in business.
“The demand for the tradespeople was incredible, and it still is,” Gus says.
Rainone Electric paid attention to state and CDC guidelines for working together and in people’s homes and workplaces.
“We took a week or two to make sure we were following procedures, but there was really no change except masking up on the job site,” Gus says. “Really, this has been a time that is spurring on the building industry and home improvement.”
And while his business and business know-how have grown, Gus says Amy Sterndale and the SBDC remain an important part of his team. “There’s this great community of businesspeople and mentors who are there to help you prosper,” Gus says. “I don’t hesitate to refer people to them.”
Sterndale, who is not only an SBDC business advisor, but also owns a communications and marketing consulting firm, is typical of the experienced SBDC advisors who work with clients. In addition to being a small business owner herself, Amy was previously the marketing manager at Random House in New York City and worked at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.
Sterndale says working to help small business owners is inspiring.
“There are so many people with dreams and really great ideas that just need some guidance to make those dreams a reality,” Sterndale says. “I feel fortunate to be in the position to help them achieve their goals.”
Since the early stages of the pandemic in March 2020, the NH SBDC has helped 7,178 small business owners keep their businesses going and thriving—and, in the case of Gus Rainone, develop one more mentor.
To help give other aspiring electricians a chance to get into the business, Gus has developed an apprenticeship program of his own. And who knows? Maybe one day, these future tradespeople will open businesses of their own.
This client story is part of NH SBDC's ongoing collection of COVID Creativity stories about businesses surviving and thriving during COVID-19.