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VIDEO  •  SUCCESS STORIES

Success Stories: Learning on Someone Else's Dime

Rumia Ambrose-Burbank, president of Vendor Managed Solutions in Troy, MI, which buys maintenance supplies for other companies, recalls how she spun her firm off from what was then Electronic Data Systems.

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Video Transcript

00:08 Rumia Burbank: My name is Rumia Ambrose-Burbank and I'm the president of VMS, Vendor Managed Solutions. We are an integrated MRO supply chain company. We focus on services for corporations that have multiple facilities and we manage all of their maintenance, repair and operation which is MRO. And it's anything that goes in the facility to maintain the facility. We buy and we manage every aspect of it.

00:41 Burbank: VMS was an iteration of a parent company which was SDE Business Partnering. It actually started as a joint venture with EDS. I was an employee of EDS for quite some time where my background is finance. And I was hired and do finance, and got put on a fast track and was a part of a project team that had to come up with a proposal to divest, help EDS divest a commodity business that they weren't making much margin on. And so we were tasked to find a company that could take over the business. Ultimately, long story short, we ended up putting a proposal together to create a joint venture. At that time my boss, hand selected about five people to come and run the company. We all got some portion of that. My business ended up being... We started off in IT, hence EDS. And then it ended up going from IT and I carved off a piece which was the maintenance side of it. And you know that's all she wrote. We were in a unique situation where most start-up companies don't really have. We had a big brother that we really didn't have to worry about some of the major challenges that start-ups do like meeting payroll. How are we gonna fund you know the product and make sure that we have an adequate amount of capital surround the business. We were in a very unique position.

02:10 Burbank: With that being said, we didn't realize how unique it was until our big brother pulled back and said, "Okay we're done, no more investment, now you guys are on your own." And we were truly in start-up mode. We had relied so much on their infrastructure that we did not prepare an enough time to pull our infrastructure together separate from theirs. And so, we really felt at that point the grunt of a real start-up and I'll tell you it's not fun [chuckle] Again with the challenges or worrying about meeting payroll and making sure that you're well capitalized. But we learned quickly what we needed to do and we got a really good banking relationship, and some really good customers that paid on time which helped. And so, from there we were good.

03:02 Burbank: I love the idea of entrepreneurship. I think a lot of times people are under educated on what it takes to truly be an entrepreneur. I would recommend work for a corporation. Get some real experience behind your belt on someone else's dime. And if you really wanna do it... And you really, it's something you really think you'll be good at. You've worked out a lot of the issues and you know a lot of the pitfalls and challenges before you invest your money or resources that will be tied to you and make those mistakes. Make the mistakes on somebody else's dime and then once you get there then you're able to kinda do it on your own.

Last updated: Aug 4, 2011




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