Friday, March 03, 2006

March 3, 2006

Business experiences expansion gains, pains

By Nathan Halverson

FAIRFIELD - The last two months have been hectic for Dave Smith, owner of a growing lawn and garden retail and maintenance shop in Fairfield.

Since opening about three years ago, Smith's business Pro Power outgrew his original 1,200-square-foot space at 1702 Enterprise Drive, Suite 11.

So Smith expanded into an adjoining store front, effectively doubling the size of his showroom and maintenance shop.

But along with Smith's growing business comes the pains of growth. Smith will no longer be able to run the shop alone. He'll need to hire an employee. And that has him concerned.

"I've got a really high standard I hold myself to, and that I'll hold them to," Smith said.

Besides selling a wide variety of brands, including being an authorized Stihl dealer, Smith does all the mechanical work in the repair shop. Finding someone who is as familiar as he is with the small engines in lawn mowers and leaf blowers will be difficult. Smith will also have to deal with the regulatory duties of being an employer.

Coming to the aid of small business owners like Smith is the Solano College Small Business Development Center and its president Chuck Eason. The center offers a course called "How to Hire and Keep Happy Employees."
"If you hire the right employee in the first place it removes a lot of the headaches," Eason said.

The small business center recently conducted a survey of 23 students in one of its advanced courses asking them to identify their top questions about employment.

Their responses included:

-- Unemployment benefits: When is an employee qualified to get them?

-- How should a drug test be conducted?

-- How should a background and credit report be obtained?

-- What has to be in an employee handbook?

-- General questions on workers compensation

The center can help businesses find answers to these questions. For further information or courses availability contact the center at 864-3382 or

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