Area Center: Orangeburg Title: Business Consultant Start Date: November 2015
Gary Robinson has been an entrepreneur, business consultant, and life coach for more than 20 years. Among his many distinctions, Gary is the first graduate of any historically Black College or University to earn an undergraduate degree in Entrepreneurship. In 1991, despite his youth, Gary successfully launched his first business, gaining valuable insight into small business operations and management.
This experience was particularly useful in 1998 when he was hired by Americare Mortgage Corporation. There, Gary ascended rapidly from entry-level broker to Vice President and led the Virginia branch of the company to profitability in his first ten months at the helm. Nearly two years later, Gary separated from the Virginia branch of Americare and started 1st Priority Business Development Group — formerly 1st Priority Financial Group — where he established it as a government contractor.
In 2000, Gary and his company acquired the contract to manage a collegiate entrepreneurship program for the U.S. Minority Business Development Agency. This was 1st Priority’s first government contract. Sixteen years and 30 government contracts later, Gary continues to serve as a senior partner at 1st Priority.
In November, Gary will mark his one-year anniversary as a business consultant for the Orangeburg Area SBDC. Since Gary is relatively new to the SC SBDC network, we recently spoke with him to learn more about his impressive background, career aspirations and what he envisions for the future. What follows is a “PROFILE” that reflects his determination, staunch work ethic and commitment to advising — and inspiring — young entrepreneurs.
QUESTION: As a consultant within the SC SBDC network, what goals have you set for yourself? ANSWER: Having been an entrepreneur while attending Hampton University, I believe that undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurial programs can be a conduit for innovative business development — particularly among minority students. Consequently, I founded the National Entrepreneurship Association.
QUESTION: What is the greatest professional challenge you have encountered? ANSWER: In 2005, a New Orleans-based IT company called Out the Box Web Productions offered me a partnership position. Having recently won a multi-year, million-dollar contract by the City of New Orleans, Out the Box was on the fast track to success. I was excited about this opportunity and was in the process of relocating from North Carolina when Hurricane Katrina hit. Out the Box was devastated by the catastrophe and, unable to recover, folded. This turn of events not only forced me to scuttle my plans, it cost me $5 million.
QUESTION: What special skills or knowledge do you possess that will benefit your clients? ANSWER: I am extremely knowledgeable about social media and know how to leverage it to achieve results. I’ve received positive feedback from the clients I’ve advised, primarily because I take the extra time it requires to develop a customized plan tailored to their specific goals. Social media is not a “one size fits all” enterprise.
QUESTION: What hobby or activity keeps you busy when you’re not advising clients? ANSWER: I am a Pastor at a church in Orangeburg, a proud husband of nearly 20 years and the father of two young men. I am passionate about people, family, entrepreneurship, and serving God.
QUESTION: Is there a specific quote or maxim that inspires you? ANSWER: “Know thyself. The joy of the journey begins there.”