Category: Prior to 2016

GOV

Gov Solutions

Successful Solutions

In 2011, Gov Solutions obtained $300,000 in financing which enabled Ms. Long to better manage cash flow and growth. Her company’s 2011 year-end profit and loss statement showed revenues in excess of $8.5 million and a net income of over $200,000.

In 2010 Ms. Long approached several banks in Hampton Roads in an attempt to obtain financing she would need to grow her business. In 2009, the company had over $3 million in sales but there was a market that had, to this date remained untapped and she wanted to move her business into the potentially lucrative field.

Recognizing that her 8(a) designation gave her an opportunity both for significant growth as well as new business, she set about to get funding from the banks to enable her to expand. Unfortunately every bank she approached declined to lend her the money because they thought her company’s balance sheet was weak and the fact that the company had experienced losses in two of the three preceding years.

The SBDC began working with Ms. Long in October 2010 and identified a number of operational and organizational deficiencies the business possessed. These made it difficult, if not impossible for her to properly manage her business and have the company reach its true potential. Working closely with the owner, her employees and the company’s accountant, a system of checks and balances were established which enabled Ms. Long to more accurately determine the business’s status and assist her in making decisions to move the company forward.

In 2011, Gov Solutions obtained $300,000 in financing which enabled Ms. Long to better manage cash flow and growth. Her company’s 2011 year-end profit and loss statement showed revenues in excess of $8.5 million and a net income of over $200,000. During the last two years Ms. Long has been able to add additional employees each year to handle the growth the company is experiencing as well as operate more efficiently.

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Obsidian Solutions Group, Fredericksburg

Obsidian Solutions Group

Finding Success

By the end of 2012, the company grew to 38 employees and did $1.65M in gross revenues. By the end of 2013, the company grew to 92 employees and did $8.68M in gross revenues.

Obsidian Solutions Group is a long-term client of the SBDC at University of Mary Washington. They first used the services of the center in 2011 for business start-up and business plan development. Subsequently, Jim and Tyrone requested procurement assistance and help with the development of a succession strategy. SBDC hosted a seminar on succession strategy. Then the SBDC helped them to develop a long-term strategic plan and exit strategy.

Jim and Tyrone also requested assistance regarding the 8(a) documentation requirements and needed to apply for exemption to the 2-year rule. The 8(a) application is still being reviewed, but a HUBzone certification was awarded in May 2011, as a result of working with the SBDC.

The company, founded in October 2010, received its first contract and hired one employee in September, 2011. Ten more employees were added by the summer of 2012. By the end of 2012, the company grew to 38 employees and did $1.65M in gross revenues. By the end of 2013, the company grew to 92 employees and did $8.68M in gross revenues.

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Birch

Birch Studio Graphics

Creative Solutions

Became profitable through focused marketing and financial management, despite adverse effects of the 2009 recession. Increased revenues by more than 35% in the past year with substantially more growth in net income.

Birch Studio Graphic became a client of the Central Virginia SBDC in 2004 when the owners, David and Jenny Robinson, sought assistance in developing a marketing strategy.  It quickly became apparent that the firm needed assistance in marketing tactics, including prospect development, pricing, as well as overall financial and human resource management.  The company, which is now positioned as a branding firm, provides graphic and web design services to small and mid-sized businesses.  The company sought guidance from the SBDC on purchasing and financing their office site, human resource management (staffing, job descriptions, hiring/termination practices), and annual budgeting and financial management to improve profitability.

The Center assisted the company in analyzing profitability at the firm level and productivity at the worker level,  as well as providing recommendations on prospect development, sales calling tactics, pricing, and process management within the firm to improve profitability. It also assisted in looking at expansion into new markets for its directory of alternative health care providers, which generates revenue for the company through advertisements in the directory. The company experienced a serious decline in revenue during the recession and refocused its marketing direction.  In the past few years, the Center has assisted the owner in his development of an annual budget and recommended refinancing of existing debt to improve cash flow.

Results Include:

  • Became profitable through focused marketing and financial management, despite adverse effects of the 2009 recession.
  • Increased revenues by more than 35% in the past year with substantially more growth in net income.
  • Re-hiring staff (1 added in 2012).
  • Acquisition of the office space that owners operate and successfully refinanced in 2012 at the recommendation of a bank referral by the SBDC.
  • Most importantly, development of owners into proactive business managers compared to graphic designers with no plan or strategy which was the initial situation.

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Homestead Creamery, Wirtz

Homestead Creamery

Rising to the Top

The Longwood/Martinsville SBDC helped Homestead obtain a Farm Credit loan for their new sewer system.   Homestead was also selected as the Longwood/Martinsville Small Business of the Year for 2012, and the Award was presented by Congressman Robert Hurt at the Southern Business Expo in October, 2012. 

Homestead is a producer of ice cream, milk and dairy products supplied by 45 farms in the Roanoke Valley/Smith Mountain Lake area. Started in 2001, its territory is Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Customers include Kroger and Whole Foods, as well other grocery stores, convenience stores, and home delivery in the Roanoke area. Sales for 2011 exceeded $5.5 million. There are 45 total employees at the end of 2012.

Homestead became a client in 2009 when they came to the Longwood SBDC in Martinsville and asked for an evaluation of the cost of a Farm Credit loan in the amount of $91,000 versus an SBA backed loan in the same amount from a conventional bank. The loan was for an expanded sewage treatment facility at the creamery. The Farm Credit loan was less expensive, and they proceeded accordingly. The ongoing relationship has been to assist in developing a loan package for a $1.1 million plant expansion. This has been finalized with the first ever Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Industries (AFID) grant in the amount of $60,000, a $45,000 Tobacco Indemnification grant, a $30,000 Franklin County grant and the remainder will be financed through Farm Credit.

Challenges and obstacles included writing the grant proposals and the handing paperwork involved in the loan, as well as learning about EPA regulations and mandates. The Roanoke SBDC assisted by finding and evaluating funding sources, as described above.

The Longwood/Martinsville SBDC helped Homestead obtain a Farm Credit loan for their new sewer system.   Homestead was also selected as the Longwood/Martinsville Small Business of the Year for 2012, and the Award was presented by Congressman Robert Hurt at the Southern Business Expo in October, 2012.  The expansion was just announced on December 17, 2012.

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Quintessential Chiropractic, South Chesterfield

Quintessential Chiropractic

Chiropractic Success

Drs. Kat and Tess stated, “Crater Small Business Development Center worked with us to create an excellent business plan and presented us with the opportunity to sit down with a marketing professional.  The Crater SBDC has supported us in many ways, including offering encouragement and words of wisdom when things were not going our way.  We are grateful to have access to such a wonderful resource.”

Quintessential Chiropractic is owned and operated by Dr. Kat Mayes and Dr. Tess Graf.  They have been together their whole lives.  Born only ten months apart, the sisters were in the same grade all through school.  Their time at Life University was no different — they took every class together.  Their mom and dad even joked that they share a brain cell.  They also share a love of helping others achieve better health through chiropractic.  Both hold advanced certification in Activator Methods Chiropractic Technique and regularly add to their knowledge and expertise through continuing education programs and professional conferences.

The two sisters contacted the Crater SBDC right after completing their medical degree.  They were seeking assistance with putting together a business plan.  Dr. Mayes indicated that with all their medical training, business planning was not taught.  The Crater SBDC Director worked with the clients teaching them how to put together a sound business plan and financial projections.  The business plan was completed along with the financials, and both sisters were excited about the accomplishment.

The biggest challenge for this start-up company was obtaining funding.  In spite of obstacles, they plowed ahead with the business learning to make use of the resources they had.  Within a year they were able to move the business from their home to a commercial building.  The SBDC provided marketing strategies and assisted them with their Open House when they launched the business in their new offices in the spring of 2012.  Today they are in their new beautiful location.  Sales have already increased and their client base has doubled.  They also hired a part-time receptionist.

Drs. Kat and Tess stated, “Crater Small Business Development Center worked with us to create an excellent business plan and presented us with the opportunity to sit down with a marketing professional.  Although we were unable to obtain financing due to the state of the economy and unwillingness of lenders to work with start-up companies, the SBDC worked diligently to help us by putting us in contact with non-conventional lending resources.  They continue to offer support through classes, QuickBooks assistance, and other resources.  The Crater SBDC has supported us in many ways, including offering encouragement and words of wisdom when things were not going our way.  We are grateful to have access to such a wonderful resource.”

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SNA

SNA International

Top 500!

Since being featured as the Alexandria SBDC’s 2012 Success Story, SNA International has become a highly respected provider of forensic science services. In only four years, SNA achieved a growth rate of almost 2000%! This achievement earned national recognition and a mention in Inc. Magazine’s Top 500 Fastest-Growing Companies. Starting in 2017, SNA applied for and won three highly-competitive, multi-year Federal forensic contracts totaling over $145M.

SNA International, an Alexandria consulting firm, empowers organizations to achieve public confidence through optimal performance in their human identification and forensic initiatives.  They serve organizations in varying stages of development: from the first identified need to complex laboratory expansions. They develop and implement solutions for operational challenges ranging in scope from evidence handling to a comprehensive response for large mass fatalities. Their technical and managerial capacity building consulting services are designed to increase productivity, staff morale, and operational efficiency while reducing overall costs by up to 20%.

Dr. Amanda Sozer, President/Owner, received international recognition for her extensive forensic human identification work following 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and other global human rights initiatives. Dr. Sozer started meeting with the Alexandria SBDC Assistant Director late in 2009 for assistance with business development because SNA International believed that proper mass fatality response plans are critical to effective emergency management. SNA International was particularly interested in expanding the consulting side of their business to provide effective emergency planning services to localities, and state governments.  They were also interested in increasing their Federal business.

The Alexandria SBDC was able to offer this client advice on negotiating all of the registrations and certifications necessary to pursue work with state and local governments, as well as federal certifications that will enable them to bid for set-aside contracts.  SNA International was able to achieve DBE/SWaM certified in Virginia, and SNA International has expanded their certification to other states.  SNA International has also completed the registration for Federal Woman-Owned Small Business 8(m) certification and recently submitted their 8(a) application to the Small Business Administration.

They also contracted with the Emergency Planning team in the City of Alexandria to develop the most comprehensive Mass Fatality Family Assistance Center (FAC) operational plan in the United States.  With this past performance, SNA International then took advantage of an opportunity first identified by the Alexandria SBDC to successfully bid on a contract to provide emergency planning and disaster preparedness services for the State of Virginia and are currently working with various state agencies pursuant to that contract. Initiatives include a major training program with Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) for first responders, forensic scientists, public health professionals, and emergency response staff.  This training will be held March 14 – 16, 2012 on the VCU campus. SNA International has also been able to increase their Federal business, particularly with the US Department of State and Department of Defense, and they continue to work with the US and foreign governments and NGOs throughout the world.

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Biz

BizHelper

BizHelper: Helping Businesses Succeed

BizHelper received a $20,000 microloan in 2002, which has been paid back in full. In 2011, they received a substantial Small Business Administration 504 loan from SunTrust Bank to help finance a new building.

BizHelper grew out of a dream that organizations should be empowered – not encumbered – by the innovation of the Internet and the evolution of web technologies. Founded in 2000, they began as a small hosting and web development firm targeting small businesses and non-profits. They have evolved to providing enterprise computing strategic guidance to the U.S. Army Headquarters’ Chief Information Officer G-6 office at the Pentagon. They have completed numerous advanced IT studies for the CIO on how the Army must adapt to be able to leverage the new and often disruptive technologies.

BizHelper has received over 100 hours of counseling from Community Business Partnership (CBP), as well as training, mentoring and enormous networking opportunities over the years. They also received a $20,000 microloan in 2002, which has been paid back in full. In 2011, they received a substantial Small Business Administration 504 loan from SunTrust Bank to help finance a new building.

CEO George Callaghan is an acknowledged authority in the industry for his range of technical capabilities, solutions for the Department of Army, as well as his thorough understanding of business processes, sensitivity to customer needs, and passion for evolving beneficial new ideas for business owners. His passion for learning, doing the impossible and helping people help themselves has enabled BizHelper to grow from a small website hosting reseller to the amazing role it has today providing advanced IT strategies to the Department of Defense and other clients.

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LLG

LL & G Services, Inc

Finding Success

From 2003 to 2008 his company gross income grew from $250,000 to $450,000. In 2009 LL& G Lawn Care merged with Ronnie Guthrie and the name of the company was changed to LL&G Services, Inc. Lawrence serves as President of LL&G Services, Inc.

Lawrence Easley started LL& G Lawn Care and this business became fully operational as a residential and commercial lawn care business in 2003. This business also became DBE and MBE certified in 2003. Lawrence came to the Longwood SBDC seeking help to obtain funding to purchase a hydro-seeder for his business. He applied to Innovative Bank and received the loan. From 2003 to 2008 his company gross income grew from $250,000 to $450,000. In 2009 LL& G Lawn Care merged with Ronnie Guthrie and the name of the company was changed to LL&G Services, Inc. Lawrence serves as President of LL&G Services, Inc.

LL & G Services, Inc. is certified as DBE and MBE in Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. Gross income has continued to increase. In 2011 gross income was $5 million.

LL & G is certified to do landscaping, athletic fields, erosion control, asphalt paving, concrete paving, silt fencing (keeps soil from washing into streams and rivers), hydro-seeding, clearing and grubbing land, construction of bio-retention ponds, and hauling and transportation of materials. Since working with the SBDC, the company has grown from five employees to 22 employees. With SBDC business planning and financing assistance, the company now has ten dump trucks, a tractor trailer (low boy) and other equipment necessary to get the job done.

Larry Harris, Director of the Longwood Small Business Center, South Boston Branch has worked with Lawrence since 2006 in several capacities. Lawrence attended several workshops, worked with Larry to create and update his business plans, used those plans to secure loan funds for his business expansions, and has received specific counseling from Larry to grow his business under the Virginia BOWD program. Lawrence said, “Through the help of Larry Harris of the Longwood Small Business Development Center, Mike Russell of DMBE, BOWD Centers of Virginia and North Carolina, and other responsible people, the company continues to grow.”

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highland

Highlands Log Structures

Still Standing Despite Economic Hardship

With a revised market strategy, strategic financing and cost reduction measures, Highland Log Structures has positioned itself to remain profitable and to take advantage of business opportunities as the economy changes.

Pamela and Winston Johnson were referred by Christianne Parker, the Assistant County Administrator for Economic Development, Washington County, in 2001 for assistance in applying for financing to relocate Highlands Log Structures to a permanent location in the William Cole Industrial Park near Abingdon, Virginia. They needed to acquire additional land and material handling equipment for their expanding handcrafted log home business. The Virginia Highlands SBDC provided business planning and financial projection expertise to acquire $188,000 in financing from the Mount Rogers Planning District Commission and BB&T. These funds were used to purchase four acres in the industrial park and a 28-ton mobile crane. The property purchased allowed efficient raw log storage, log processing, and log-shell assembly areas.

The business continued to grow until 2007. A log showcase building was constructed on-site and employment grew from the original nine to over twenty-five (25) skilled crafters engaged in the initial construction and on-site re-assembly of the log shells on the owner’s site. Over 250 structures were assembled on sites in Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New York.

In September 2007, plans were developed for another major expansion of property and equipment. An additional six acres of land was purchased in the industrial park. A business plan to finance the construction of additional facilities and the addition of log-home related products was developed. With the downturn of the economy in 2008, these plans were not implemented and strategic plans were developed to ensure the company’s survival.

The plan included the sale of all non-critical equipment and the reduction of the labor force to seven critical skilled employees. The owners and employees took major pay cuts and, with the assistance of TruPoint Bank, a company debt of $500,000 was refinanced, allowing the business to continue to positively cash flow.

The marketing strategy was changed to fully utilize the workforce. All new structures sold were provided on a turn-key basis, rather than just assembling the log shells. A major marketing shift to promote the fabrication and installation of expansions and repairs was successfully implemented. These major changes in the business plan have enabled Highlands Log Structures to survive the downturn.

The customer base has changed from being real estate developer centered, to individual primary homes. Over 75% of log home manufacturers did not survive the 2008 downturn in home real estate development and construction. However, through the revised market strategy, strategic financing and cost reduction measures, Highland Log Structures positioned itself to remain profitable and to take advantage of business opportunities as the economy changes. The Virginia Highlands SBDC continues to be a resource for business advice and assistance to this long-term client.

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Bike

Bikenetic Bike Shop

Pedaling to Success

Jan opened Bikenetic Bike Shop in Falls Church, VA in November, 2011, just in time for the Christmas season. Jan is working full-time in the shop, and in 2012 he hired three more people to help him run his expanding business

Jan Feuchtner first contacted the South Fairfax SBDC because, as a minority partner in a bike shop, he wanted to buy out the majority partner and take the shop in a different direction – a direction Jan knew was much better, more sustainable, profitable, and enjoyable.  Jan came to the SBDC with a business plan and the business’s current financials.  He needed advice regarding the buy out.

He met with several counselors, including an attorney, a CPA, and a business counselor.  They advised him against buying out his partner due to the indebtedness of that business and instead to open his own shop, starting with a clean slate.  The SBDC’s attorney counselor helped Jan create a strong financial plan, ultimately helping him decide not to take out a $50,000 loan and instead to rely on existing relationships with his vendors to provide his new business with interest free, individual lines of credit.

Jan opened Bikenetic Bike Shop in Falls Church, VA in November, 2011, just in time for the Christmas season.  His shop has grown beyond business plan expectations ever since.  Jan is working full-time in the shop, and in 2012 he hired three more people to help him run his expanding business.

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