Meet our 12th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honorees!

Celebrate with us! Tickets on sale for the annual awards celebration on Thursday, February 23, 2023.

Pinnacle Communications Group

Duval County, Florida
Founded: 2020

We are a security and telecommunications company. We ensure the safety, security and ability to communicate in all facets of the work place. We install, sell, service, train, educate and handle all aspects of physical security but not limited to cameras, access conrol, gate access, two way radios, weapons detection, and so much more.

Industry

Information Technology

Employees

9 employees

Revenue Growth

4186% increase from 2020 – 2020

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Sonya Morales-Marchisillo

Founder/CEO

Tell us a bit about your background. What led you to start your company?

I had been in the car dealership industry since 2008 working as a director for the dealerships, but then the pandemic happened. I’m a pandemic entrepreneur, so COVID was a pivotal point for me. I launched my company in July 2020 because of my daughters. I had a senior who was valedictorian in high school and my other was at school in Charleston and COVID pretty much shut down their life. As this happened, I watched the 18–22-year-old demographic get lost in the shuffle. That’s exactly why I decided to start the company, for my daughters to have a company to work in and eventually take over. 

What is your company’s expertise?

At Pinnacle we provide all aspects of physical security and are a full-fledged physical security company. We offer cameras, access control, two-way radios, video surveillance, and contactless weapons detection. We do cabling, electric vehicle installs and charging stations, and that’s just skimming the surface – we do a ton. We are a core security company.

How do you separate yourselves from others in your market?

We differentiate ourselves in a couple of ways. Our competitors are big in the market here making them a national brand competitor, but we are a family-owned small business. We are the only 100% minority women own physical security technology company located in the Northeast. We use that as a differentiator specifically for our ability to set us apart from our competitors because we are a relationship-built organization. We know our customers – they aren’t just numbers to us. They aren’t calling a 1-800 number and hoping to get somebody on the other end, they have our personal cell phone numbers to reach us. There is a very tailored, family-based tailored differentiator with us because we truly understand our client’s needs and we treat them like our family.

Another thing that differentiates us is our emphasis on community impact – we do a ton of philanthropy. Despite how small we are, we have donated close to over $10,000 to our local schools. That’s big for our company because we want to support our communities.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced while growing your business?

One of our biggest challenges is project funding. One of the hardest things about being a small business, in general, is the inundated policies and procedures of project funding with credit unions. I truly believe that there needs to be an emphasis on helping small businesses with early project funding because that’s what makes businesses have to turn away work when they first start out. They must front the material and labor costs because they don’t have established credit lines yet. It’s hard on small businesses.

What are some of the goals you have for your company?

In 3 to 5 years, we would like to be a $20 million entity. We would also like to employ more women in the technology field to open the door for women in tech. We want to change the stigma that this is a male-dominated industry or a type of place where women don’t belong. For us, it’s important that in my company everybody has an opportunity. Honestly, that’s what’s important for us in terms of our growth, our trajectory right now is straight north. We’re super excited about that.

Tell us about your company culture. How do you like to lead your team?

It’s a hard balance, but our company culture is really specific. Every day we are making sure that our leadership team leads by example – we’re very hands-on. We do intense exercising with each other in terms of mental and emotional team building. We do things like Super Bowl parties, birthdays, gym sessions, and Thanksgiving get-togethers as a team. To work on our team, it’s vital to understand that we have very soft boundaries. We’re all there for each other, whether it’s personal or professional. We understand things do need to be personal-professional, but we have a soft boundary with it so that we’re able to have the doors open to talk to each other about things that may be affecting one another.

We’re all friends and family after five o’clock and during the workday, everyone has a strong, trusting relationship so we’re able to have that dependability and accountability with each other. It’s not scary, it’s not hurtful, and it’s very warm. When we’re working together, we know that we can depend on each other and that’s important to establish a strong company culture. We’re very specific about who we bring in because we protect our culture. We coveted our culture and it’s very different than any other workplace or workspace I’ve ever worked with.

Have you found it challenging to find talent?

It’s difficult because we are very niche and specific in the market. For example, finding someone who is a two-way radio technician or a security camera technician that can also cross over with an electrical background is almost an anomaly. We take our time in hiring and we take our time in making sure that we hire the right fit. We have an amazing group of employees, and we pour so much into them through continuing education or training.  Those are expensive pieces to an employer that some bigger employers overlook. I think what you pour into your employees far surpasses profitability and sales and the ability for the company to grow.

Do you have a proudest moment so far?

It’s always funny to tell the story about my company because I cashed out my 401 k and I launched a technology company with two 18-year old’s. But my proudest moments are my daughters. One of them, at 19 years old, went out and captured an $800,000 Nassau County Education bid. We’re all self-taught and she went out and learned herself. The one thing that I know about my daughters is their work ethic and I knew if anybody could build something with me, it would be them. Of course, everybody thought it was crazy that I cashed out my own personal retirement for my daughters. But at that moment, as a mom, I made the best decision for my girl’s future that I could. Now I’m watching Marissa beat out these big brand companies, like Motorola, or watching Amara put her nose to the grindstone and at 20 years old become a homeowner. Those are the nights where people don’t see me going home teary-eyed because those are mom moments for me, but they’re also proud manager moments, too. This company will belong to my daughters. I’ll stay for probably another few years while they keep learning and we get more bricks in our foundation, but eventually, this will be a company that I will turn over to the girls.

I sit back and watch them knowing that they’ll be able to do it on their own. They have just grown up so much. It’s amazing to watch them work with people who’ve been in this industry for 30, 40, or 50 years. They’re the next generation of this industry and they’re women. I have a lot of pride in that.

What does it mean to be selected as an Honoree this year?

When we were nominated, I didn’t even know that somebody was paying attention to us. The biggest thing about our company is that we are the little fish in a big pond. For somebody to single us out and pinpoint the fact that they’ve noticed what we’ve done has been so empowering to me. It’s created a new drive in me to not only be the best that I can be but to be the best in Northeast Florida. It has propelled my company forward. The whole team as taken so much pride in winning this award, that it’s really created brand-new momentum for all of us.

Is there anyone special you’d like to thank?

First, I want to thank my husband. When I went to him, and we talked about our daughters and their emotional state during COVID, plus everything else going on, and said ‘I want to launch this company’ he said you can do it. I said I think I’m going to cash out my retirement and launch a company to create work for our girls because it’s not there anymore. And again, he said, you can do it. Those four words will stick with me forever. There were probably 300 people that didn’t believe in me, but my husband, my sisters and my greatest friend did. Those three were instrumental in supporting me. 

What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Keep working. You can’t quit on yourself. When you get to a point where you say, “I have to capture this sale or I’m going to starve,” that’s when it’s pivotal. For anyone that’s considering starting their own business, be ready to put in the work. We can’t be what we talk about, we have to be what we are about – and action is the only way to get there. action is the only way to get you there. Discipline is the difference between where you are now and where you go tomorrow. 

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