A small business owner from Sandy recently had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. to share information and ask questions at a small businesses roundtable at the White House. The Small Business Administration and a company called Thumbtack organized the roundtable so that small business owners could have their opinions heard.
Thumbtack is a tech company based in San Francisco, Calif. that helps put customers in need of a service in touch with local professionals, and it helps small businesses connect with a wider range of customers. It has been in Salt Lake City for almost a year.
Rex Carroll has been a Sandy resident since 1996 and owns two small businesses that operate here. One is a home cleaning business called Carroll’s Custom Cleaning, at 11351 South 1000 East, which has been running for 26 years. The other is a Dutch oven catering business called Carroll’s Custom Cooking, which has been around for 10 years.
“Small businesses certainly provide a service on a local basis, and being able to offer that customer service that large companies can’t offer, or don’t offer, anymore . . . [I]t’s all about serving your fellow man and being involved in your community,” Carroll said.
Carroll worked in the sales division at Kodak for about 15 years until he grew weary of traveling and being away from his family. With the help of his wife Cathy and a close family friend, Carroll quit his job and opened his first business in 1989.
He believes that small businesses are important for the community, but he understands that running one comes with a handful of challenges.
“Work ethic is a key factor in owning your own business because you don’t punch a clock,” he said.
About a year and a half ago, Carroll was almost forced to close the doors of his businesses because he was struggling to find customers.
“I just didn’t know what to do. It was hard hanging on, and it hurt,” he said.
Luckily, he discovered Thumbtack, and with its help, he was able to remain operational.
“[Thumbtack has] a proven track record, and they’re the best thing that’s ever happened since apple pie. They’re the salvation of who I am today because I, like a lot of small businesses, was breathing out of a straw. It’s hard to feel like you’re accomplishing anything when you’re breathing out of a straw,” he said.
Carroll has been using Thumbtack’s services for about a year. The company actually nominated him for the three-day trip to D.C., and out of 60 small business owners, they made Carroll one of two speakers. This meant that he actually got to stand and share part of his story with the people at the roundtable, which lasted about three and a half hours.
“They told us that in the United States 96 percent of businesses are small businesses, meaning 50 or less employees . . . In their words, they are wanting the government to be more user friendly, and they want to hear from people. They want to know how they can help small businesses, so we voiced our concerns,” Carroll said.
Some of these concerns included, but were not limited to, taxes, education, Obamacare, small business loans and how to make government services more readily available.
“A lot of people have given up on the government, but we need to be their friends . . . The fact that the government was willing to allow us to have this type of a meeting for small businesses—I was just in awe . . . I don’t know if they’ve ever done these kinds of things before,” Carroll said.
Carroll was thrilled to get to visit the White House, and he said that being there instilled an increased sense of patriotism in him.
“I don’t have words to explain it,” he said. “It was just amazing—the rush and feelings that I had and the patriotism I felt. I realized that we live in the greatest country in the world, and there are a lot of good things happening—the good outweighs the bad.”