Category: Prior to 2016

BERTO

BERTO Consulting Services

Consulting Success

BERTO Consulting Services, LLC has obtained WOSB certification and a facility clearance. 

Ms. Bertolotti has more than 32 years of experience in government contracting.  She is passionate, persistent, organized, has a strong work ethic, and often finds creative solutions to challenges.  She has a broad background, including hands-on technical work, project and program management, business administration, and business development – especially in the Intelligence community with the CIA, Army, DHS, Treasury, FBI, DARPA, NGA, and others.  Ms. Bertolotti has also worked with large government contractors including SAIC, Booze Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, Anderson Consulting, BAE, and Raytheon.  She has worked with small companies throughout her career, allowing her to broaden her background quickly in business operations.  

Ms. Bertolotti’s business development experience includes proposal management, proposal writing, developing pipelines, developing SOWs, coordinating Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and Teaming Agreements (TAs), and building teaming relationships.  Ms. Bertolotti has been a contributor to several awarded proposals including the $4B eSMARTS IDIQ effort.  She was the Proposal Manager and lead writer for an Army awarded $25M Broad Agency Announcement (BAA).

After a financial setback in 2011,Ms. Bertolotti took a number of business training classes at the South Fairfax Business Development Center.   Ms. Bertolotti also meets regularly with a business counselor.  As a result, BERTO Consulting Services, LLC has obtained WOSB certification and a facility clearance.  She developed an innovative analytic tool, using a patented technology.  These all led to securing an IDIQ contract and funded Task Order with a large prime government contractor.

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Savvy

Savvy Rest

Savvy Success

Sales have increased over 30% and the client is now exporting to Canada. The company was listed for a third consecutive year in Inc. magazine’s fastest growing 500 small companies.

Savvy Rest. Inc. became a client of the Central Virginia SBDC in November 2010, when the founder and owner, Michael Penny, was referred by a local economic development official.  The company initially sought assistance to refine the strategic direction of the company and marketing tactics to continue to expand its sales growth.

The company, which manufactures natural latex mattresses and organic bedding products and accessories, had distribution through independent retailers, one company-owned store in Ivy, VA, and an online sales presence.  The company was also seeking financing sources and has since sought guidance from the SBDC on a facility acquisition, company credit policy and procedures and human resource/organization planning.

The Center formed a team of counselors covering financial and marketing expertise to assist the company in analyzing their profitability and capabilities by expanding its dealer network and retail operation. Over the past two years, the Center provided over 35 hours of counseling to this second-stage business.  The Center recommended more focus on marketing through the dealer network with improved tactics to help the dealers grow sales.   The Center referred financing sources which resulted in a line of credit.  It has also provided counseling assistance in considering a facility acquisition and credit policies and collection practices as well as on organization and staffing training and development.

As a result:

  • Sales have increased over 30% and the client is now exporting to Canada.
  • Employees increased by over 35%.
  • A permanent trade showroom was added at the World Furniture Market.
  • A second retail location was added in Vienna, Virginia.
  • A four-acre commercial parcel in Nelson County was acquired for future planned   relocation.
  • The company created an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP).
  • Company was listed for third consecutive year in Inc. magazine’s fastest growing 500 small companies.

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Showalter Orchard & Greenhouse, Timerberville

Showalter Orchard & Greenhouse

Growing Success

Gross sales for this business have increased 53% since 2010, they have added 3 new jobs, and are well-situated for continued expansion.

In 2003, Sarah and Shannon Showalter purchased Showalter’s Orchard & Greenhouse in Timberville, VA, from Shannon’s parents, who had started the orchards in 1965. The greenhouse provides wholesale and retail bedding, vegetable, and fruit plants, plus container gardens. The orchard was mostly retail for about 20 varieties of apples. They made and sold sweet apple cider through retail outlets locally and through distributors in Virginia. The commercial cider sales were limited due to no UPC code on the packaging.

The Showalters knew they had potential to expand and diversify but were not sure how to go about it. Dealing with the day-to-day tasks while working harder each year just to maintain sales did not allow them time to focus on long-term planning or to step back and assess the profitability of their various enterprises. They knew the farm, the orchards, and their market, but they lacked confidence that they knew what was best for the business. They came to the Shenandoah Valley SBDC in July 2011 for assistance in setting strategic goals and making concrete plans to achieve them.

At the SV-SBDC, Sarah and Shannon explored their options. One was to expand into grapes as a commodity and to add a winery to take advantage of state incentives being offered at that time. Betty Hoge, SV-SBDC Business Advisor, suggested that rather than branching into an unknown crop and new production methods, they look instead at a product they already knew well – hard apple cider. The Showalter family has been making hard cider for personal use for generations, and the market in Virginia was just opening up. The SV-SBDC provided them with market research, and they quickly learned about the requirements and regulations. They began production of Old Hill Hard Cider in the fall of 2011 and applied for a USDA Value-Added Grant for $300,000 marketing project for Old Hill.

The Showalters met on a regular basis throughout 2012 at the SV-SBDC and began to identify specific activities as revenue centers for their business. They wrote new mission statements, set clear goals, and established budgets for each segment of the business. Their traditional fall festival changed from a simple activity to a popular full-day event of local food, artisans, and activities (including “pick your own”) with more than doubling attendance and increasing revenues by 50% in two years. They introduced the first bottles of Old Hill Hard Apple Cider at their Spring Festival and quickly sold out.

Today, the Showalters are primed for growth and success. “Our SBDC counselor has become a trusted, necessary part of our business management team. The SBDC has offered us access to resources and expert advice that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford at this point in our business development,” they said.

Gross sales for this business have increased 53% since 2010, they have added 3 new jobs, and are well-situated for continued expansion.

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CraveRight

Craveright Cookies

Craveright Cookies: Naturally Successful

CraveRight is now on the shelves in two Whole Foods stores in Virginia.

CraveRight Cookies was a dream of Roya Sasannejad, an engineer by trade, who has created a recipe for a healthy and tasty snack – and wanted to share it with the world.

Originally called Royal Ribbon, the business owners went through several iterations of the business planning process, and the South Fairfax SBDC was there to help.  Business counselors reviewed Roya’s business plan, helped identify gaps, and reduce risks.  Issues were discussed, debated, and ultimately Roya and her husband, Darioush made the decision to start small, test the products, get them into local markets, and use the business revenue — instead of personal savings, debt equity or a $100,000 loan — to grow their business.

Roya and Darioush met with the South Fairfax SBDC CPA counselor, who recommended the right entity, advised on financial systems, and assisted with tax planning.  The SBDC attorney counselor helped CraveRight create contractual documents and protect its intellectual property.  And the SBDC Director helped the couple explore the ‘right-size’ marketing strategy by focusing on target audiences, utilizing low-cost social media, tapping into the right communities, and approaching retail buyers.

CraveRight is now on the shelves in two Whole Foods stores in Virginia.

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Service Center Metals, Prince George

Service Center Metals

Service Center Metals: Servicing Success

Service Center Metals has approved funding to add an 80,000 square feet state-of-the-art, environmental friendly Cast House, requiring 16 new employees in 2013.

Service Center Metals (SMC) incorporated in 2001 and began operations in 2003 with their first aluminum extrusion line. They expanded again in 2006, adding their second extrusion line. Their growth rate has exceeded 15% per year except in 2008 and 2009 when the market for aluminum extrusions slowed down due to the recession, which required a workforce reduction. By 2011, the market for aluminum extrusions had fully recovered, and SMC was able to return the business to full employment with 118 employees.

2012 was a record performance year. They have developed a manufacturing model that has made them the most competitive and efficient aluminum extrusion manufacturer in the world. They developed a world-class employee incentive program where the production employees receive bonuses they have earned on a daily basis and management staff on an annual basis. SCM has an excellent safety record and a system of communications that demonstrate the effectiveness of a “high performance team,” creating excellent quality products and services. They have developed and promoted an excellent Innovation Program rewarding their employees for their excellent ideas. SCM has a richly diverse innovative workforce focused on being the best. They treat them well with excellent salaries, benefits, and recognition. Service Center Metals’ product quality and delivery service are the best in the industry, satisfying the most critical of clients. They have proven that they have staying power and are focused on growth.

Service Center Metals has approved funding to add an 80,000 sq-ft state-of-the-art, environmental friendly Cast House, requiring 16 new employees in 2013. It will convert scrap aluminum from operations into new billets that will go back into manufacturing.

The Founding Partners abilities are demonstrated in their market share, the number of companies that want to do business with them, and the growth rate of their business. Service Center Metals is truly a gazelle company with a very bright future and is a good example of a solution for putting our nation back to work with excellent quality jobs that create a thriving economy. They have become a real asset to the Greater Richmond Region. A business that has survived “The Great Recession” and returned to growth in such a short period of time is very special.

GRSBDC role has been an advisor for SBA financial options, for VDBA options for workforce training that expands businesses, and for creating public recognition with nominations for The Greater Richmond Chamber’s Impact Award (2005, 2006) and SBA Small Business Person of the Year Award (2011, 2012).

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Faye’s Office Supply, Orange

Faye’s Office Supply

Faye’s Office Supply: Ordering Success

Today there are nine team members, and she will celebrate her 20th anniversary as Faye’s Office Supply.  Faye’s is a member of the Orange, Culpeper, and Madison Chambers of Commerce.

Faye Gish runs a busy office supply business where she explains earnestly, “I don’t have staff or employees, I have a fantastic team.” Today there are nine team members, and she will celebrate her 20th anniversary as Faye’s Office Supply.  Faye’s is a member of the Orange, Culpeper, and Madison Chambers of Commerce.

She started out by doing bookkeeping and renting a third of her father’s building in Locust Grove; she poured her earnings into buying inventory for the office supply business she wanted to build. Faye comes from a family of entrepreneurs.  Her father mentored her and her four siblings, each of whom owns a business along with a lot of her nieces and nephews.  Office supply appealed to her personal bent for organization.  In six and a half years, she grew into half her father’s building and then occupied all of it.

During this time, Faye had become friends with a woman who owned the office supply store in Orange.  When she was ready to sell, she asked if Faye was interested in buying it.  Within two days, Faye had two locations, but eight months later she consolidated her business in the Orange location  She is part of a buying group that allows her pricing to be competitive, and the Central Virginia SBDC helped her to identify her best customer targets so she could more effectively focus her sales and marketing efforts.

Now her team includes her husband, son, and daughter along with five others dedicated to customer service, the quality Faye sees as 95% essential to her success.  At team meetings, insights and suggestions are shared, including observations by their delivery driver, Faye’s son.

When she had questions, Faye turned to the SBDC, and she has taken advantage of a number of SBDC workshops, including a retail program that was part presentation and part on-site visit. As a result of the “fresh eyes” and the expert’s evaluation, she made changes in the store’s physical appearance and signage.  She appreciates the range of SBDC programs, from meeting the needs of start-up companies to those of older, growing businesses like hers.  As the recent recession hit, the SBDC produced a useful checklist about how to cut costs, a document she shared with fellow Chamber members.

Faye notes that “the hard part is working in your business while also working on it.” Clearly she finds it energizing to take webinars and SBDC trainings while also managing her team, serving her clients and building her business. She laughs that her duties include “sales, accounting, deliveries, promotion, and bathroom cleaning.” And clearly, she’s looking forward to the next twenty years of her business and counting on the SBDC to be there for her.

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Rice & Spice, Alexandria

Rice & Spice

Rice & Spice: Cooking up Success

Natalie is now busy planning her fourth location in suburban Maryland to expand her brand. This young woman is certainly a knowledgeable and motivated entrepreneur.

After working in and managing several Thai restaurants in Northern Virginia and recently graduating from the University of Maryland, Natalie Tantivejakul decided to open her own modest operation in Alexandria in 2001, named Rice & Spice. After three years, she felt she was ready to expand and came to the Alexandria SBDC for help. She believed that the new Asian Fusion concept was the future for a large operation, and she began the search for a location in Washington, DC.

The SBDC business analyst worked closely with her in 2005 for six months to develop a comprehensive business plan in order to approach lenders for a $4.0 million SBA 504 loan.  The capital would finance a first-floor condominium space, the build out, and the equipment in a location near the Verizon Center in the trendy West Penn area. The search for an interested lender, the loan application process, the approval, and the restaurant’s opening spanned two years.

Success breeds confidence, and in 2011, after three years of profitable operation from both restaurants, Natalie came to the Alexandria SBDC for assistance with developing a loan package and finding a lender for a third spot, Rice & Spice II, to be located in a shopping center in the West End area of Alexandria. After the business analyst assisted her with developing the loan presentation package, finding a lender (BB&T), and completing the build out, she opened in early 2012. She and the General Manager of Asia Nine also met with the SBDC’s social media counselor to discuss ways to increase dinner traffic using new social media technology and platforms. Last year’s sales were healthy and each restaurant was profitable.

Natalie is now busy planning her fourth location in suburban Maryland to expand her brand. This young woman is certainly a knowledgeable and motivated entrepreneur.

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Personal Touch Florist, Galalx

Personal Touch Florist

Blooming Towards Success

The Personal Touch Florist opened February 7, 2012.  This proved to be successful for Tammy, since it was right before Valentine’s Day.  Loyal and new customers sought The Personal Touch Florist for all their floral needs.  The Personal Touch Florist’s sales were 60% higher than projected.

Tammy Sawyers came to the Blue Ridge Crossroads Small Business Development Center in April of 2011 to discuss opening her own floral shop.  Tammy had over six years of experience as a florist, and she was currently working from her home, providing personalized arrangements as well as the majority of the floral work for a local funeral home.

The Blue Ridge Crossroads SBDC began working with Tammy on a business plan to apply for a business start-up loan.  During the process we discovered Tammy had some credit challenges and lacked collateral.  With the guidance of the local SBDC and People Incorporated Financial Services, Tammy spent the next six months building her business from her home, cleaning up her credit, and securing additional collateral.

In December of 2011, Tammy came back to our office, and we assisted in finalizing a business plan and loan package to be submitted to People Incorporated Financial Services.  In January of 2012, Tammy was approved for a loan to get her business started.  Tammy secured a prime location in downtown Galax, purchased used equipment, and traveled to get the lowest price possible for her start-up inventory.  Tammy creates and designs every arrangement in her shop, inspiring her name as The Personal Touch Florist.

The Personal Touch Florist opened February 7, 2012.  This proved to be successful for Tammy, since it was right before Valentine’s Day.  Loyal and new customers sought The Personal Touch Florist for all their floral needs.  The Personal Touch Florist’s sales were 60% higher than projected.

The Personal Touch Florist has not hired full time employees but does hire employees part-time staff as needed during peak seasons and for delivery assistance.  The Personal Touch Florist plans to hire at least one full-time person to help with all aspects of the business by 2014.

Most importantly Tammy, a single mother to six children, is teaching her family about building something from the ground up.  Her children range in age from 2 to 20, and many times you will find the older children helping in the shop.  Although Tammy has missed many games and events, she knows she is teaching her children about the value of hard work.

The Personal Touch Florist looks forward to continual growth and servicing the Twin County Area for all their floral needs.

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93

Campus Cookies

Success Never Tasted So Good

Sales growth has been substantial. I went from self-employed (1 person business) to 24 employees in 5 years. I am totally self-financed. I have now opened a 2nd location [Blacksburg], and am looking to open 2 more within 3 years.

Scott Davidson initially sought advice from the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center (SV SBDC) in January 2007 with an idea of opening a business delivering freshly baked cookies as a late night snack. His target market was the large population of college students surrounding the campus of James Madison University. He came to the SV SBDC seeking guidance on his business plan, financial projections, operations, marketing strategies and general start-up obstacles. At the time, Scott was a student in the College of Business at JMU, so he was well-prepared with both a strong academic background and entrepreneurial spirit, but found that enthusiasm and passion are not always enough. He asked for specific feedback about his plan and guidance to assure that his business model would work.

Throughout 2007, SBDC business advisors met frequently with Scott and guided him through market research efforts, brand identity issues, and operational processes. The SBDC introduced him to local food and supply vendors, attorneys, and other professional resources for his business. After his start in September 2007, the SBDC continued in the role of consultant, reviewing his financials, employee and payroll issues, and serving as a sounding board as the business grew.
Here are Scott’s words about the services of the SBDC:

I don’t feel like there is [any other] good avenue for potential business owners to set the foundation for their plans. The SBDC teaches us the basic principles of business, what documents to file, and gives us realistic feedback about the viability. When you’re doing everything you can to make your model work and facing so many roadblocks, it’s the value of peace of mind that SBDC gives, knowing you can get honest feedback.

They showed me the legal steps for business, suggesting solutions for finance and other business management areas, applying managerial practices to business operations, and networking us as we moved into other markets.

Sales growth has been substantial. I went from self-employed (1 person business) to 24 employees in 5 years. I am totally self-financed. I have now opened a 2nd location [Blacksburg], and am looking to open 2 more within 3 years. I honestly think there has to be other options than to cut the budget of the SBDC. Supporting businesses is vital for an economic comeback; there are so many areas of red-tape and additional fees/taxes/etc. that hamper business. Those should go first.”

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The Family Bakery, Gate City

The Family Bakery

The Family Bakery

The Family Bakery’s owners were recognized at the 2012 Annual Scott County Chamber of Commerce Business and Industry Appreciation Breakfast with an Entrepreneur Spirit Award in conjunction with the Governor’s “Year of the Entrepreneur” campaign.

Vickie and Allan “Cotton” Roberts opened The Family Bakery in Gate City, Virginia, on May 12, 2009…the dream of owning a bakery with a loft apartment above the shop came true that day…the road was long and winding.

The Roberts did not enter this dream all starry-eyed but, instead, did their research and due diligence before investing in The Family Bakery. They had a concept in mind and spent time visiting bakeries around the country and developing their menu.

The Roberts also attended some small business workshops hosted by Mountain Empire Community College’s Small Business Development Center where they met Tim Blankenbecler, Director of MECC’s SBDC. The mentor relationship began in January of 2009, when the discussion included potential financing options and creating a business plan for their project.

Through one-on-one  counseling sessions, it was determined that the best loan program available for the Roberts’ needs at the time was Scott County Economic Development’s revolving loan fund, which was established through the  USDA Rural Development Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program.

The application process required a business plan and a loan application. Vickie said, “I didn’t want to do that business plan. In fact, I was in the waiting room when my third grandchild was born, working on that business plan with a Sharpie so I could get it turned in for funding because there was a deadline for the application.”  Both Vickie and Cotton agreed the “dreaded” business plan has been The Family Bakery’s most useful tool.

“You definitely need a plan if you want to borrow money,” Roberts remarked. “These folks want to make sure you succeed, and Tim was truly a blessing.”

With the low-interest loan, the family opened the business in May, 2009.  Working with the SBDC Director over the next four years, they created 8 new jobs and grew revenue well into the six figures.

To enhance the ongoing one-on-one counseling experience, the SBDC Director used financial tools such as ProfitCents and market research tools such as IBISWorld. These resources provided industry-specific useful information for the client’s day-to-day decisions.

The Family Bakery’s owners were recognized at the 2012 Annual Scott County Chamber of Commerce Business and Industry Appreciation Breakfast with an Entrepreneur Spirit Award in conjunction with the Governor’s “Year of the Entrepreneur” campaign.

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