MONTVERDE — When entrepreneurs Dave and Shannon Hidalgo decided to streamline the process of sealing their eco-friendly Green Light Fire Bags, they reached out to Paul Simmons, Lake County Economic Development and Tourism Coordinator.
The couple already had found their recipe for success. The Montverde family began their business two years ago, re-packing paper livestock feed sacks that were normally considered trash and filling them with USDA-approved kiln-dried firewood, chemical free kindling, and a box of matches to create an all-in-one campfire in a bag.
But Simmons hoped to add that extra spark. He recently facilitated a meeting between the Hidalgos and Billy Blankenship, operations manager at Lakeland Animal Nutrition in Polk County. At the feed mill, the couple witnessed firsthand how a massive manufacturing facility seals similar bags in large quantities.
“Paul connected us to individuals who do manufacturing, tried and true, every day,” said Shannon Hidalgo. “We got confirmation that our process is not too off the beaten path. Moreover, we got an understanding of efficiency and leanness and where we should go as we expand our manufacturing capacity.”
Hidalgo said Simmons, in addition to support they received from Lake County Commissioner Sean Parks and the Small Business Development Center’s Stan Austin, has helped the pair “connect the dots.”
“This is just one of the ways the county interacts with our local businesses,” said Simmons. “The Hidalgos already have their business plan down, but we try to help them expand and improve their business.”
From humble beginnings as hobbyists working inside their garage, the couple now gainfully employs two special needs workers, have tripled their output and are expanding into major retail establishments across the U.S.
To find out more about Green Light Fire Bags, visit www.greenlightfirebag.com. For information on starting, relocating or expanding a business in Lake County, call Lake County’s Economic Development and Tourism Department at 352-742-3918 or visit www.BusinessInLakeFL.com.