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Start up connects East Orlando folks with jobs

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Published in East Orlando Sun, August 5, 2010

By:Monique Valdes, Sun Staff

The first time John Mahony and Mark Moore started a company together, people called them crazy. Friends advised them to hatch a back-up plan.

Moore’s parents offered for Moore, 26, to move back in with them. But with hard work and perseverance — and the side money they made bartending three nights a week — they survived.

And now they’re on to the next big project. The same success is evident by the phones that ring off the hook, the constant hustle and bustle within the office walls and the many awards that adorn the brightly painted walls of Kavaliro, a one-month-old staffing service company in East Orlando.

Partners Mahony, Bill Peppler, CEO Diane Symes-Mahony and President Moore opened Kavaliro on June 28, and the risk was high. They stepped out of their comfort zone into a weak economy to create something that they knew could be a valuable asset to the Orlando community.

Having all graduated from the University of Central Florida, they feel a connection to the area and the businesses in it. The name of the company links them to UCF — Kavaliro means “knight”.

“Mark, my wife, Diane, and I are all residents of Avalon Park,” Mahoney said. “We definitely feel like we have strong ties within the community there.”

“Businesses need businesses to survive,” Moore added. “We utilize local companies and because of what we do, folks here can get jobs, or find a job doing what they like or what they’re good at.”

“It was really important for us to stress local partnerships and relationships,” Peppler said. “Driving past UCF every morning and seeing how big the school has become since I graduated in 1996 is a reminder of how much the community has transformed over the years. We are employing people in Central Florida that would have been employed elsewhere if we weren’t here. It’s rewarding to help provide income to Central Florida families and I think about that a lot.”

Aside from a desire to operate the Orlando headquarters and run their own show, the decision to start Kavaliro came about because of the June acquisition of San Diego-based SGIS — a federal government contracting firm and sister company to SkillStorm — by Salient Federal Solutions Inc., a Fairfax, Va.-based information technology and engineering solutions company.

Previously Mahoney and Moore worked for SkillStorm, a San Diego-based staffing services provider. Kavaliro was formed using the techniques, owners, leaders, and top producers of SkillStorm. The foursome bought the Orlando and Charlotte N.C. operations of SkillStorm.

“It was a very positive parting of the ways,” Mahoney said. “It was a natural progression to do Kavaliro after SkillStorm. What we are most excited about now is being headquartered in Orlando. We are heavily interested in getting involved in the community and charities here.”

Moore said the transition has worked out for both companies.

“SkillStorm was generous enough to let us part ways amicably,” he said. “The biggest reason behind it was streamlining SkillStorm and Kavaliro. It was a good decision for everybody and I think it will work out really well for both companies. We are now controlling our own destiny.”

Even with the skills, employees and knowledge from SkillStorm, the team had to make it a point to become accustomed to being the sole leaders. New responsibilities like controlling employee benefits were a lot to handle at first, but the team has quickly adapted.

Moore said things were different when they opened Kavaliro compared to when they first went into business together seven years ago, franchising out SkillStorm and SGIS. This time, no one called them crazy.

“With this endeavor, everyone was really excited for us. It was the opposite of any apprehension because we had done it before. John and I feel confident we can do it again or else we wouldn’t be doing it.”

Kavaliro Office Lobby - Orlando

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