For Naples firefighters Daniel Jackson, 42, and Gio Campobasso, 30, owning a business that trains people in life-saving procedures makes sense. “Unfortunately, we perform CPR more than any other profession on the planet,” Jackson says. “That makes us excellent when it comes to teaching the subject.”
In 2017, in addition to their 50-plus-hour workweeks at the fire station, the pair decided to go into business for themselves. But the road was initially rocky. “We got nowhere fast,” Jackson says. Word of mouth, door-to-door sales, cold calls—none of it worked.
That’s when the two started looking into existing businesses. They heard through the emergency training grapevine that one of the best-known companies in the area, Collier CPR, was thinking about selling. Jackson and Campobasso reached out to the company’s owners. By the end of the month, they had become the owners of a successful CPR and first aid-training business with an established network of clients and an existing revenue stream.
Now they had one mission: Don’t mess it up. “The structure was there. The numbers were there. The groundwork had been laid, and there were no unknowns,” Jackson says. “As long as we didn’t do anything to let the wheels fall off, we had a successful plan.”
So far, so good. In their first year of business, they recouped their initial investment. Since buying the company, they’ve doubled the average monthly number of classes from 100 to 200. And even with the slowdown from COVID, their July 2020 numbers were higher than July 2019.
They have also expanded courses to include a variety of CPR and healthcare provider certificates, such as Basic Life Support, Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric
Advanced Life Support, and they sell, maintain and offer training for automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to businesses across Southwest Florida.
For both Jackson and Campobasso, there’s an obvious overlap between being a firefighter and being an entrepreneur. “Being a firefighter is meticulous, repetitive work,” Jack- son says. “When that work is done, there is always more to do.”
There’s also little room in either undertaking for anything but exceptionalism. “Our department takes 1,120 calls every day,” goes the oft-quoted fire department line. “Do you know how many of the calls the public expects perfection on? 1,120.”
Along their journey to become business owners, Jackson and Campobasso studied business ownership carefully. They suggest that other up-and-coming entrepreneurs do the same. “Surround yourself with successful, driven people,” Jackson says. “Ask questions. Find out what works and what doesn’t. Apply what you’ve learned to your business venture, and if something doesn’t work, adapt.”
And don’t underestimate the power of kindness, he says, especially in turbulent times. “Positivity breeds positivity. If people need a little more time with you, give it to them. You never know how you’re going to impact someone.”