Growing Pains Send Augusta Day Care Operator to the SBDC

Janie DavisShortly after opening a licensed childcare service in her home, Janie Davis needed to expand. “We started in 1996 with six children in my home, but received so many calls that we knew we had to grow,” say Davis, founder and CEO of Children Unique Christian Daycare Center, Inc., in metro Augusta. Within two weeks, Davis found and rented a new location. Licensed for 24 children, the center filled quickly, so she expanded again. The first portable she purchased, which allowed for 18 children, filled within weeks. By the time she had filled three portables and put a playground in the back, she decided to build a center designed specifically for children.

“I was already looking for another place to go to because the first structure was originally a home built for a family,” says Davis. We needed to do a lot of modifications to bring it into compliance. That sent me to the SBDC in 2000.”

Davis sought help in developing a business plan, financials and loan package she needed to finance her new facility, but her plans did not pan out. “It was my vision to build, but I was trying to
get there before I had been in business long enough,” she says. She continued working with the SBDC and eventually identified a suitable site, negotiated its purchase, found a contractor, obtained funding and built her new center.

“Working with Janie is a pleasure,” says consultant Susan Caldwell, area director of the Augusta office. “Over the years, she has come in and out of our lives. As her business grew and she needed additional funding, she came back, and we revised the plan and pulled the loan package together.”

“The SBDC helped me strengthen the business plan and put together the loan packet for the construction of our 9,500 square foot building designed just for children. We received an SBA loan and moved there in June of 2008,” says Davis. In 2009 she learned that a competitor was liquidating several of its centers. To acquire these assets, she needed another loan.

Caldwell guided Davis through the due diligence process of the purchase and assisted her in developing another business plan and loan package that included detailed financials for each of the five centers.

Children Unique now operates six centers in Richmond and Columbia counties, each of which accommodates more than 100 children. It operates with 78 caregivers and staff managed by Davis and her daughters, Verwanda Childress, Virginia Patterson and Charlene Middleton. Davis says that parents are now requesting that she consider opening a private school for K-3rd graders, an idea she has begun looking into.

“Susan is wonderful. She needs to write a book,” says Davis. “No other organization has made me feel they were here just for me and my business. Susan and the SBDC do.” “Janie knows what matters in her business,” says Caldwell. “Six centers are an enormous responsibility.

Janie is successful because she keeps her eyes on the needs of the children and staff, as well as managing the numbers and bottom line.”