While setting up the national distribution of faux waterscape products more than 6 years ago, Jamie Kocher and Steve Raketich became convinced they could streamline the process by purchasing directly from the factories. As a result, they started Backyard X-Scapes, a landscape retailer/ wholesaler specializing in fountains, pottery, bamboo fencing, bamboo products, thatch palapas, thatch products, artificial turf, artificial rocks, and rock waterfalls. 

My successes. 

In need of financial planning and marketing guidance, Kocher and Raketich contacted SCORE San Diego and attended several workshops, including Internet Marketing, Small Business Marketing, and Business Plan 101: How to Develop Your Competitive Advantage. The Internet Marketing workshops proved especially beneficial as the Backyard X-Scapes and their Bamboo and Tikis websites currently account for more than 25 percent of total sales. To further expand its horizons, Backyard X-Scapes has hired an online marketing team to increase sales and awareness of the Backyard X-Scapes name. 

How SCORE helped. 

Kocher and Raketich continue to use SCORE San Diego's services to stay in touch with the latest developments in the business world. Kocher states "Six months ago, Steve and I handled most aspects of the day-to-day business, but with Paul's guidance, we hired Ray Valdez as controller and general manager to solidify operations for the future. SCORE San Diego has been a great source of information and guidance. I cannot say enough good things about them and how much they have helped us."  
Even in the current economy, Backyard X-Scapes continues to prosper, with sales up 27 percent this year. Due to this success, Torrey Pines Bank has nominated Backyard X-Scapes for the Small Business Administration 2009 Small Business of the Year award. 

What's great about my mentor? 

Kocher and Raketich received financial planning guidance from SCORE San Diego counselor Paul Hollenbach. "Paul explained how important it is to have open lines of credit for future expansion. We supply bamboo fencing, carved tikis, and faux rocks to more than 120 Home Depot stores nationwide, and when The Home Depot wants us to supply more stores, we now have the ability to finance this expansion immediately," said Kocher. "Having great cash flow and this solid line of credit has also allowed us to purchase our products in container load quantities directly from the manufacturer and sell at wholesale prices, which gives us an advantage over any and all competitors. We guarantee the lowest pricing of everything we sell, plain and simple."  

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