Success Story…Southern Maid Donuts
The Lawton satellite of the Southwestern Oklahoma State University Small Business Development Center (OKSBDC) is committed to the economic development of southwest Oklahoma, hence improving the quality of life of its citizens. This mission focuses not only on the large employers but also on the smaller entrepreneurial ventures that provide services important to rural Oklahoma, thus positioning the region for future economic growth. This illustration highlights the resolve of a family to bring just such a business to Elgin, Oklahoma and realizing the American dream.
Tim Turney contacted Mary Eichinger, Business Coordinator of the Lawton OKSBDC, in December 2005 after discovering the OKSBDC website while conducting research on business resources. At that time, Time and his wife, Maria, were living in Heath, Texas, and wanted to relocate to Oklahoma. Originally from the Elgin area, they wanted to “come home” to raise their children where they could be near their large extended family. They were not certain of what kind of business they wanted to start but were inclined toward either a pizzeria or donut shop. Tim and Maria had previously owned a small takeout pizza place in Texas and found that experience both enjoyable and rewarding. In addition to their restaurant knowledge, Maria is a former teacher and Tim has more than 12 years’ experience managing technicians and working on printers and fax machines.
After the initial telephone call, Eichinger sent Tim a packet of helpful information including the Business Plan Guide and Business Basics. Following up, she scheduled an office appointment with Tim later in the month when he was going to be in Oklahoma visiting relatives. During this initial counseling session, she gave Tim an overview of how OKSBDC could help in the development of the business plan, identify sources of funding and offer training after the business was opened. Eichinger’s extensive knowledge of the business community enabled her to explain the growth potential of the Elgin area due to the results of the Base Realignment and Closing process, which increased the missions at Fort Sill, resulting in a population growth of approximately 10,000 people over the next five years. Another significant factor was the development plans for a new Comanche County Industrial Park just southwest of Elgin, which will house the assembly plant for the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon as well as other occupants.
After examining the needs of the community, Tim discovered the closest donut shop was located 12 miles away. Further research revealed the availability of a franchise with Southern Maid Donuts. Started in 1937, Southern Maid is still operated by the founder’s children and is known for creating a mixture of flours that makes the donuts melt in your mouth. Tim quickly identified an ideal location in a new strip mall that offered him the opportunity to take advantage of the morning commuter traffic flow to Fort Sill and Lawton.
Since Tim was still living in Texas, he and Eichinger were able to use e-mail and the telephone in addition to office visits to fine-tune his draft business plan to a point where it would be an effective tool for the bank to determine if they wanted to fund this venture. During this process, it became apparent that the Business Loan Express Community Express Loan would be ideally suited to this project. After a thorough financial analysis, it was determined that in addition to the $5,000 owner investment, $50,000 would be the loan amount needed to successfully launch this business. Eichinger worked to get Southern Maid listed as an SBA-approved franchise and then sent the completed packet to BLX for approval. She was more than pleased to be able to contact Tim with the positive news that he was going to be able to realize his dream.
Soon, the building space was being transformed and the equipment and supplies were ordered. Tim and Maria were able to open their Southern Maid Donut Shop in June 2006.
Already in growth mode, Tim and Maria have expanded their menu to include sausage rolls and have added two employees. Gratified to see an Oklahoma family business succeed and prosper, Eichinger continues to follow up with Tim and Maria to develop additional marketing strategies that will enable their business to continue to thrive well into the future.