Category: Prior to 2016

74

Back of the Dragon Project

Project Success

The Back of the Dragon route has now been granted official tourism designation by the Virginia Legislature. Signage has been provided by the Virginia Department of Transportation. The ribbon cutting for this official designation was held October 22, 2012.

The SW-SBDC Director initially met with Mr. Larry Davidson in January, 2011.  Mr. Davidson had recently retired from the US Army and moved back to the “Thompson Valley” area, on VA State Route 16, a scenic, mountainous road between Tazewell and Marion, VA, in Smyth County.  This 26-mile route crosses three mountains with an estimated driving time for the curvy route of about one hour. It is home to some of the most beautiful mountain areas in southwest Virginia, and Mr. Davidson was interested in putting this route “on the map” for tourism, attracting motorcyclist and car enthusiasts to the area.  Back of the Dragon is the name he gave the route and his project.

Mr. Davidson, along with his son, wanted to open a store front at the Tazewell end of the route that would also sell the various items and refreshments.  Research by the client and the Southwest SBDC found that this property did not meet VA Department of Health regulations for water and sewer, so the project was nixed.

Mr. Davidson began marketing the route to his target markets online.  To date, the “Back of the Dragon” project has held three all day events called “Back of the Dragon Day,” which have attracted thousands of visitors from all over the US, Canada, and England to southwest Virginia.  Another is planned for June, 2013.

Mr. Davidson has been successful in obtaining partners on the Smyth County end of the route, who also advertise the area and sell the memorabilia. Both Tazewell County and Smyth County report an increase in tourism that is attributed to this project.   The “Back of the Dragon” website, www.backofthedragon.com , is active and internet sales to advertisers and sponsors continue to increase.

The SW-SBDC also coordinated meetings with Mr. Davidson and the Tazewell County Office of Tourism.  Together they obtained a Marketing Leverage Grant through the Virginia Tourism Corporation to market this newly created tourism designation in southwest Virginia.The Back of the Dragon route has now been granted official tourism designation by the Virginia Legislature.  Signage has been provided by the Virginia Department of Transportation.  The ribbon cutting for this official designation was held October 22, 2012.

Mr. Davidson, working with the SW-SBDC, and has just completed a business plan and financial projections for the start-up of a full-service restaurant and event facility that would further enhance the Back of the Dragon project and promote tourism to southwest Virginia.

Read More
Taste Oil Vinegar Spice, Culpeper

Taste Oil Vinegar Spice

A Hint of Spice

The Culpeper store opened in October, 2011, and the response was so overwhelming that by early spring of 2012 George and Janet had repaid their savings accounts and made plans to open a second store in Fredericksburg, VA. Today, the product uniqueness of the two stores attracts a healthy clientele. The stores employ seven part-time staff in addition to George and Janet.

“Taste Oil Vinegar Spice is dedicated to providing only the highest quality ingredients to enhance your favorite dishes and bring out the best flavors of nature’s bounty. At Taste, we believe that ‘Fresh trumps everything.’ That’s is why we offer only the freshest olive oils and organic spices from around the world, complimented by the most flavorful balsamic vinegars imported from Modena, Italy.”

This statement highlights the home page of Taste Oil Vinegar Spice which is located on East Davis St. in Culpeper, VA.

The owners, George Farrar and his spouse Janet Davis, are both retired Navy veterans. After second careers, they moved to Amissville, VA, and decided to start their own business. The idea for the oil, vinegar, and spice shop came to them during visits to Maine and Paris where they wandered into shops sampling vinegars and oils.

George and Janet first visited the Lord Fairfax SBDC at Culpeper in the summer of 2011 to pitch their idea and to get information and advice on what they should do as far as registering with the federal, state, and local jurisdictions. At the meeting they expressed interest in securing financing through SBA’s Patriot Express Loan program. Ultimately, they decided to self fund the start-up costs and initial operating expenses from their personal savings.

They opened the Culpeper store in October, 2011, and the response was so overwhelming that by early spring of 2012 they had repaid their savings accounts and made plans to open a second store in Fredericksburg, VA.

Today, the product uniqueness of the two stores attracts a healthy clientele. The stores employ seven part-time staff in addition to George and Janet.

Read More
Arietta

Arrieta Construction

Constructing Success

In the period between 2010 and 2011, Ms. Arrieta company’s revenues grew from $1.9 million to over $2.1 million and she has created 5 new jobs and retained 7.

Originally from New York City, born and raised in the Bronx, Elaine Arrieta’s parents did all they could to ensure that their daughter had the best education possible. As she grew up, she worked in a variety of positions, including serving as the Executive Secretary to the VP or Nomura Securities. In 1992, Arrieta relocated to Virginia. She has been involved in construction for nearly 10 years working up from the bottom beginning as a laborer and advancing to office manager, executive assistant and accounting and project manager assistant.

When the opportunity presented itself for her to start up her own business, Ms. Arrieta jumped at the chance and quickly realized that she needed to become more knowledgeable about all aspects of business. Starting with online courses offered by the US Small Business Administration, she soon discovered the Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center, attending workshops and taking advantage of the counseling services offered. Arrieta Construction, Inc. was formed in 2009.

The SBDC has been a vital asset to my business’ quick success. I attended several workshops/events that cost next to nothing (many were free). It was and continues to be a “home base” for me. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and eager to assist with anything they can, to get you the information you need to succeed!

I highly recommend contacting your local SBDC for guidance on starting-up or even to further excel in your business.”

In the period between 2010 and 2011, Ms. Arrieta company’s revenues grew from $1.9 million to over $2.1 million and she has created 5 new jobs and retained 7.

Arrieta Construction provides construction services for most Government Installations in, but not limited to, the following Virginia communities: Yorktown, Lackey, Newport News, Hampton, Richmond, Norfolk & Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Williamsburg & Alexandria. Goals for 2012 include obtaining 8a Certification and expanding our commercial & residential service divisions.

Read More
Medium Machinery, LLC, Woodbridge

Medium Machinery, LLC

Building Success

The SBDC helped Levon obtain $10,000 in capital formation, retain three jobs, and generate over $20,500 in sales.

Medium Machinery, LLC specializes in medium duty injection molding equipment by offering an injection molder that is both affordable and capable. Levon Fiore, CEO of Medium Machinery, created a new design that improved long-established industry standards. His design was to make custom injection molding technology accessible by drastically reducing the cost and weight of the machine.

Being a start-up company left a lot of room for Medium Machinery to improve its operations and strategy. Fiore decided to use Mason SBDC’s resources to help him continue to expand Medium Machinery’s products into different markets. Fiore had frequent sessions with multiple counselors who guided him in accounting, marketing, and other aspects of his business.

He met with Mona Anita Olsen for general counseling, Carl DesMarais and Mark Juilian for marketing assistance, Jon Trevathan for product liability insurance assistance, Heather Burke for liability insurance and marketing assistance and Timm Johnson marketing and financing assistance. Over time, Levon drastically improved his business operations, helping him obtain $10,000 in capital formation, retain three jobs, and generate over $20,500 in sales.

Read More
BBW

Better Building Works

Better Building Works: On Track for Success

Monica says that her biggest success thus far is generating an annual $50,000 extra cash into the pockets of building owners and the local economy in 2011 alone. Better Building Works is on track to quintuple this number in 2012.

Monica Rokicki started working with the Roanoke Small Business Development Center a year prior to the establishment of her business. Better Building Works, LLC was officially launched July 4, 2011 with Dan Smith, Editor of the Valley Business Front, as their first client.

Currently Better Building Works consists of Monica and her partner Barry Martin. They have hired three more employees this January 2012, with the hope by the end of the year they will have more. Monica’s background is in architecture and Barry’s is in construction. They’ve combined this expertise with their passion for building science to form the foundation for their building performance consulting company. Better Building Works, LLC offers building performance assessments (energy audits), recommendations for building retrofits, with return-on-investment optimization, and LEED, Energy Star and Energy Performance Score certification/administration services. They serve residential and commercial clients across Virginia, mostly within a 50 mile radius of Roanoke.

When asked what her biggest challenge was in creating her business, Monica said it was difficult to leave her good job and see herself as a business owner rather than an employee. Her advice to those wanting to start their own business is to “associate with successful business owners”. Monica then went on to say that her biggest success thus far in her business was generating an annual $50,000 extra cash into the pockets of building owners and the local economy in 2011 alone. Better Building Works is on track to quintuple this number in 2012.

Monica and Barry are rightly very proud of how much their company has grown in the seven months since July 4 of last year. She is enthusiastic about what her business has to offer in the future and the ways it will help the local economy. Monica’s last piece of advice to future business owners is to do what you love, and take advantage of the wealth of resources that the Roanoke Small Business Development Center offers.

Read More
Four-Way Fuel Company, Clintwood

Four-Way Fuel Company

Fueling Success

In May, 2012, their bank loan was approved, and the business is scheduled to open in late June or early July, 2013. The owners expect nine jobs to be created at the start, in addition to the owners themselves.

Four-Way Fuel Company, Clintwood

In March, 2012, Michael Rasnake requested assistance from the Southwest SBDC with the development of a business plan to accompany a loan application for funding a new business in Dickenson County, VA.

Mr. Rasnake and his wife along with their daughter, Beth Blansett, and her husband wanted to open a gas station, convenience store, and deli that would be managed and operated by Beth Blansett. They were confident that the location would provide an excellent customer base, with economic development initiatives being planned, including a new school complex across the street and a new mining operation opening nearby.

The partners had purchased the 22-acre site and were using personal loans and funds to make renovations and purchase equipment. They were now working with New Peoples Bank to consolidate their personal loans into one business loan for $356,000 that would also provide some working capital for the starting of the proposed business. Their business plan, though, was primarily narrative information with no financials for projected revenues, expenses, COGS, or any financial information for these aspects of the business:

  1. Gas station operation offering regular, mid-grade and premium gasoline, as well as diesel fuel, with a full-service attendant. Fully certified underground tanks and gas pumps are owned and maintained by Riggs Oil Company, Big Stone Gap, VA.
  2. Deli operation licensed by the US Department of Agriculture serving popular food products such as breakfast items, burgers, hot dogs, sub sandwiches and pizza as well as various other items.
  3. Convenience Store operation offering a wide variety of food items such as milk, soft drinks, bread and snacks as well as tobacco products.
  4. Limited service garage operation providing maintenance services such as oil changes and tire repairs. New tires and other products such as window washer fluid were going to be sold.
  5. Rental properties, including business facilities and residential apartment, which are currently rented, one to a small parts distribution company and the two apartments are currently rented through a one year contract with HUD.

Over the next few weeks, the SBDC Director worked with Ms. Blansett and Mr. Rasnake to prepare financial projections for this proposed business. In May, 2012, their bank loan was approved, and the business is scheduled to open in late June or early July, 2013. The owners expect nine jobs to be created at the start, in addition to the owners themselves.

Read More
Solar4 Leesburg, Leesburg

Solar4 Leesburg

Energizing Success

Solar4, Leesburg has placed for two years in Loudoun SBDC’s Business Plan Competition, which has given them additional exposure to community leaders and press coverage.

Solar4, Leesburg, LLC began operations on March 17, 2010 with four partners.  Today, though the specific partners have changed as the company has grown, Solar4Leesburg has four strong and engaged partners actively contributing to the company, plus 1 sales associate and 1 intern.  The company reported sales for CY 2011 of $130,000.

Solar 4, Leesburg has become a leader in Loudoun County for sustainable energy and government involvement.  In February, at the invitation of Solar4, Leesburg, Virginia Secretary of Technology Jim Duffey and Assistant Secretary Cameron Kilberg toured Mason Enterprise Center-Leesburg and paid on-site visits to two of Solar4, Leesburg’s solar energy clients, North Gate Winery and Endless Summer Harvest in Purcellville.

Loudoun SBDC staff and volunteer counselors have had a strong relationship with Solar4, Leesburg and provided the following services:  one-on-one and peer-to-peer counseling, business plan review and development, strategic planning, financial counseling and introduction to local community leaders.   The partners have been extremely generous in publicly supporting Loudoun SBDC and the services provided by the Center.

Solar4, Leesburg has placed for two years in Loudoun SBDC’s Business Plan Competition, which has given them additional exposure to community leaders and press coverage

Read More
Dermatology

Virginia Dermatology and Skin Surgery Center

Doctor of Success

A little more than a year after opening, Virginia Dermatology and Skin Surgery Center is a flourishing medical practice

Mark Eid, MD, identified and fulfilled a vital need in the Fredericksburg, VA, area when he opened his dermatology practice in January of 2012. Virginia Dermatology and Skin Surgery Center provides Fredericksburg area residents with comprehensive dermatology care and skin cancer surgery. It is the only dermatology practice in the area which offers Mohs micrographic surgery to its patients. This procedure, credited to Dr. Frederic Mohs in the 1930’s, is a surgery that can cure basal cell melanoma and squamous cell skin cancers.

Dr. Eid received his bachelor’s degree from West Chester University and his Medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2006. He completed an internship in Internal Medicine at Cabrini Medical Center/Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City and a Dermatology residency at the Pennsylvania State University Milton Hershey Medical Center. Dr. Eid followed his residency with a Procedural Dermatology Fellowship from the Medical College of Virginia/VCU Health System in Richmond.

While working in Richmond, Dr. Eid considered where he should establish a private practice. His research indicated that the Fredericksburg area was underserved with regard to dermatology care. He contacted the University of Mary Washington Small Business Development Center (UMW-SBDC) for purposes of writing a business plan, creating a cash flow forecast, and developing a loan proposal. The UMW-SBDC requested demographic research for Dr. Eid from SBDCNet. The UMW-SBDC also assisted Dr. Eid in evaluating loan options. Dr. Eid opted to purchase and renovate an existing commercial building on Route 1 in Fredericksburg, and he obtained an SBA-guaranteed loan for this purpose.

A little more than a year after opening, Virginia Dermatology and Skin Surgery Center is a flourishing medical practice. One key to his success is Dr. Eid’s ability to analyze tissue and perform surgery on the premises. This provides him a unique advantage over other local dermatology practices. Additionally Dr. Eid credits a quality staff for their personalized attention to patient care as another reason for his success. On the wall of Dr. Eid’s office is the motto is “May those who enter as guests leave as friends.”

Read More
Hello Bagel

Hello Bagel

New York Minute: Baking Success

Lora shares, “The advice, advocacy, and mentorship from the SBDC have been a great encouragement during hard times. The counseling and information resources have supported me through an otherwise isolated development process.  I’m proud that my vision for Hello Bagel is now a legitimate business.”

Growing up in New Jersey, bagels – crackly, crusted, chewy, authentic, NY-style bagels — are ubiquitous. This northern treat was one of the things Lora Gellerman missed most when she moved to the South twelve years ago. She and her family have had ties with the mountains, Virginia Tech and Blacksburg for years, so making the decision to move to the area and start Hello Bagel felt like “coming home” in more ways than one.

The Hello Bagel concept began with Lora’s enthusiasm for enriching lives through good food and conversation. The vision was to open a specialty shop bringing fresh baked New York-style water bagels and bagel sandwiches to Blacksburg. She knew she wanted it to be both an efficient venue for take-out orders and a fun meeting place for friends, neighbors, and food lovers to come together and enjoy good food in a warm, casual atmosphere.

As Lora began the research and business development process, the blizzard of complexities became apparent. There is endless information for aspiring entrepreneurs on the Internet and at the library, but she found much of it contradictory and rarely ever applicable to her specific needs.  She was starting to feel very alone in her efforts to start a business. The concept was solid, but she needed to talk with someone from a business and financial standpoint. Once she learned about the Small Business Development Center at Radford University she made an appointment to see what help they might be able to offer.

From the first meeting with the SBDC counselor, she felt like she’d found an advisor who saw the potential for success in her and in the Hello Bagel concept.  Her counselor helped her prioritize and break the project into manageable chunks. This renewed focus and sense of direction helped organize her energy and efforts. His management experience gave tremendous value and insight while adapting standard business practices into the Hello Bagel model. Lora’s counselor helped her set realistic goals and offered strategies to accomplish them.

Lora shares, “The advice, advocacy, and mentorship from the SBDC have been a great encouragement during hard times. The counseling and information resources have supported me through an otherwise isolated development process. We collaborated on the refinement of a business plan and timeline, and now I am approaching investors for financing. I’m proud that my vision for Hello Bagel is now a legitimate business with structure, integrity and growth potential.”

Read More
Visionary

Visionary Consulting Partners

Vision of Success

Visionary has dramatically increased their annual profit and now employs double the number of full-time employees than when they first began with the SBDC. Visionary is still growing strong and currently remains valued clients of Mason SBDC.

Founded in 2008 by Michael and Eleanor Thornton, Visionary Consulting Partners provides a diverse range of consultative services designed to enhance and support health care providers, community-based organizations, and public-health agencies. Visionary is a verified service-disabled veteran- and woman-owned small business, and is also SBA certified as an 8(a) and Small Disadvantaged Business.

Running a small business requires a wide range of skills. A successful entrepreneur must be able to cope with competition and constantly seek out new opportunities, and dealing with growth presents its own challenges. Michael Thornton came to Mason SBDC to discuss how to face the difficulties that arise from managing a growing company. He wanted to ensure that all marketing, financial, and business planning needs were met, and the strategy was well-developed.

Michael was matched with a variety of Mason SBDC counselors who were highly experienced in different perspectives. The counselors helped Visionary develop marketing strategy, including branding and powerful messaging for the website. Michael received help in budgeting and pricing support as well as setting a more effective accounting system for his company. The counselors also provided Michael financial counseling, such as a financial model and acquiring a loan to support the company’s growth.

Having the Mason SBDC support has made it much easier for Visionary to move towards its goals. In the past four years of working with Mason SBDC. Visionary has not only survived in a field crowded with larger and more established competitors, but also thrived. Visionary has dramatically increased their annual profit and now employs double the number of full-time employees than when they first began with the SBDC. Visionary is still growing strong and currently remains valued clients of Mason SBDC.

Read More