2012 John Fernandez, Daystar Desserts, LLC
Daystar Desserts was founded in 1998 by John Fernandez, CEO and Russell Cobb, President in Long Island, NY. They had both graduated from the prestigious Culinary Institute in New York City and their business concept was to produce high-end dessert products with high margins. In 2004, the partners acquired Sandsberry Bakery, producer of “the World’s Best Cheesecake”, in Ashland, VA. Fernandez and Cobb relocated their other dessert lines to Virginia and set out to build a profitable frozen food manufacturing business.
The Greater Richmond SBDC began working with John Fernandez in 2007. Daystar was looking for help in improving processes, communications, and structure to accommodate growth. First, GRSBDC arranged a class project with Virginia Tech Pamplin School of Business to conduct research on stages of growth and to recommend changes the company should make to grow from stage 2 to stage 3. The following spring, GRSBDC arranged a Capstone Project with University of Richmond MBA Program to address Daystar Desserts’ cash flow situation, since a fast growing business never has enough cash. And, lastly VCU’s International School of Business did a research project on frozen dessert opportunities in South America.
GRSBDC’s role in supporting Daystar Desserts has also been in the strategic planning area, by helping them prepare for rapid revenue growth in excess of 20% annually. Daystar grew revenues from $2.7 million in 2007 to over $10 million in 2011 defying the “Great Recession.” GRSBDC recommended to John Fernandez in 2009 that he consider utilizing an SBA guaranteed loan or a 504 loan to help fund his expansion needs. Daystar Desserts has funded the majority of their growth from profits and with some funds made available through the Federal Stimulus Package. Recently, GRSBDC worked with Fernandez to develop an Advisory Board of volunteer seasoned executives who helped guide John in strategic planning, human resources, finance and operations.
In 2010, John Fernandez received Virginia’s SBA Small Business Person of the Year Award. The award recognized their achievement in creating a diverse high performance team with an excellent growth strategy.
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