SBJ: What has been key to your recent growth?
Brett Roubal: I think you ultimately have to start with the people. It’s a cliche, but it’s true – we invest a lot of time and effort to make sure that we have the right people in each of our preschools, and ultimately that’s what leads to success in each of those schools. We build nice buildings, fill them with fun toys and lots of things to do, but ultimately, they are simply that – just buildings, without the people inside them. Really, where our success lies is in making sure we have invested in the right people and the right resources to make leaders and teachers successful.
SBJ: Is your company’s growth sustainable?
Roubal: We’ve been around for 20-plus years now, and the fundamentals that our founder, Rochette Dahler, established have really been refined over the years to give us a successful vision for each of our new locations. We feel like we’ve got this incredible foundation to enable us to spread those core principles that we have to more and more people across the country. Part of our mindset is to spread Little Sunshine’s across the United States.
SBJ: What does growth look like for Little Sunshine’s?
Roubal: We have five schools under construction right now across the country, and our pipeline for the foreseeable future is between five and 10 schools under development at any one time. We have been very intentional with our growth because we describe our services as boutique child care and we never want to grow in a way in which we lose that. We need to make sure that we have the people infrastructure to be able to support our growth. We never lose sight of the fact that we want to be your best neighborhood preschool. We will grow methodically as a result. Right now, we’re about to have 35 schools across the country.
SBJ: The Council for a Strong America calculates the economic toll of the nation’s child care shortage at $122 billion in 2022. Has this historical moment of crisis aided your company in its growth?
Roubal: I do see a big demand for that in whichever market that we’re in or looking to expand into. I’m not sure exactly what has led us to this point, but I can tell you we’re doing our best to alleviate these issues in every market that we’re in, including here locally. We just opened our new location in Ozark last year, and we’re eyeing probably another location in the Springfield market in the not-too-distant future.
SBJ: What do you think is the most interesting aspect of Little Sunshine’s business?
Roubal: The company was born and raised right here in the Ozarks. It started in a basement in Rochette Dahler’s house, and today our corporate office is based here in Springfield. There’s literally one degree of separation between everyone who works here in the home office that supports schools all over this country. We don’t generally hire anyone for this office unless there’s a personal relationship preexisting: friends, coworkers, neighbors. We’re a tight-knit unit that performs amazingly well.
Adrianna Norris became a first-time business owner with the opening of Finley River Chiropractic; PaPPo’s Pizzeria & Pub launched its newest location; and Huey Magoo’s opened its second store in the Ozarks.