Rebecca and Chris Britton knew exactly where to go for help when they started their business – the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center, getting in contact with Business Advisor Susan Urbach. The Britton’s industry experience helped them observe and find a niche market. Chris has longstanding experience in the warehousing and transportation logistics area, and Rebecca also has warehousing experience along with senior management experience in another company. Together, with help from the Oklahoma SBDC, they would create Endeavor Industries, LLC.

Endeavor Industries is an e-commerce fulfillment and Amazon FBA prep service located in west central Oklahoma City. E-commerce has been growing for years, and especially spiked during the time of the pandemic, and there will be a continued increase in e-commerce as time goes on. They have engaged other programs that deal exactly with local Oklahoma companies who are wanting to get into or expand on their e-commerce options. They anticipate other companies approaching Endeavor Industries, namely those that will find a central US location helpful in their e-commerce strategy.

“That was something we so appreciated,” said Rebecca Britton. “Getting a business loan is very different from a consumer loan.  We are grateful that we worked with the Oklahoma small Business Development Center and had that experience on our side.”

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Success Story…AAA Insurance

Business Description: Insurance product sales

Problem Identification: The client requested assistance from SBDC to assist with market research for a start up insurance agency. She has successfully owned a staffing agency in Durant, OK and believed with her contacts she could run a successful insurance company. She had already identified the franchise that she was interested in pursuing and requested assistance in determining the market opportunities and research of the competition in the area.

Assistance Provided: The SBDC provided Geographic Information System (GIS) market research data regarding consumer insurance spending and the competitors in the area. Her SBDC advisor provided guidance and advising on the information provided in the reports. The advisor also assisted with the business plan.

Results Achieved: The business was successful in opening in June of 2015. The new insurance agency created three new jobs.

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Success Story…Archery Traditions of Oklahoma

Business Description: Recreational and educational services in traditional archery including archery indoor range, retail store, and educational classes.

Problem Identification: The client followed up from the tax classes to make sure the business was started correctly according to state law, as well as needing some assistance in the business plan and loan preparation.

Assistance Provided: The SBDC assisted in business strategy and financial projections, through one-on-one consulting, and mentoring– encouraging him to be the successful business owner.

Results Achieved: The client attained $75,000 from investors and a $30,000 SBA working capital loan for inventory. Within a year, Ken and his family began operating a large flexible indoor archery range, which includes a 3D target section.

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Success Story…Bethel Pharmacy

Business Description: Compounding Pharmacy

Problem Identification: The client requested assistance from SBDC to assist with the completion of the business plan. Client’s passion was to provide better education and medication management for the inner city residents and income challenged senior citizens. Client was applying for funding from Tulsa Economic Development Center. They needed the funds for site build out, prescription inventory, and working capital.

Assistance Provided: The SBDC advisor assisted client with the business plan, including all of the financials.

Results Achieved: The client was successful in obtaining a low interest loan from Tulsa Economic Development Center in the amount of $312,000. The client also received additional financing from the drug manufacturer in the amount of $50,000 and invested personal funds in the amount of $15,000. The business created three full time jobs.

Success Story…Superior Thermal Solutions LLC

Business Description: Insulation services provider of foam, fiberglass, and cellulose as well as foam roofing installations and repair.

Problem Identification: The client requested assistance from SBDC to assist with the steps to develop and complete his business plan, determine the market feasibility, and obtain financing.

Assistance Provided: The SBDC advisor assisted with the completion of the business plan including projections and financials, assisted with review of industry data including Geographic Information System (GIS) and competitor data review in the region, understanding ownership structures and setting up his LLC, obtaining necessary permits, understanding costing and bidding, setting up social media accounts, and developing marketing plans.

Results Achieved: This client was successful in obtaining a loan from Arvest Bank for the purchase of his insulation trailer, equipment, and start up inventory. The client has since upgraded his company truck and plans to purchase additional equipment. The business has been successful and has created one full time and one part time job to date.

Success Story…The Rustic Ranch, LLC

Emily and Dereck Franks began the process to create The Rustic Ranch in February of 2011 with an inquiry on the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center (OKSBDC) website. The Rustic Ranch is a retail store specializing in western apparel, tack and home décor. Emily has years of experience in a local western outfitters store and Dereck, a disabled military veteran, works with leather crafting.

They initially sought help in creating a business plan to acquire a loan for inventory. Morgan Gould was the lead counselor on the project. In addition to assisting with their business plan, Morgan helped them find training opportunities that fit their needs as new business owners. Emily attended the Oklahoma Tax Workshop and completed several Small Business Administration courses online. In April of 2011, they received their requested funding through a SBA loan program called the Patriot Express. In the same month, Emily hosted a “sneak peak” of The Rustic Ranch with great reception from the community.

In July of 2011, Emily and Dereck opened The Rustic Ranch in a small boutique area in a building owned by the City of Indiahoma. They hosted a Grand Opening at the end of the month and made over $1,000 in sales in the first day and an additional $1,000 in pre-orders. Through the next several months business continued to grow and new items were added to the inventory. Tradeshows also became an active part of the work schedule.

In the spring of 2013, they decided to move the store closer to home to allow more time with their son. In June of 2013, the newly remodeled store was opened on their home property with more space and more inventory. Emily said that she sees the business “continuing to grow for a long time.”

Success Story…Hitching Roast Coffee Co.

Dennis Sells, Artisan Roaster, member of the Cherokee Nation, is a great example of creating a business out of his passion. Sells created his retail and wholesale roast coffee shop in a converted garage. Sells was able to utilize the services of OKSBDC to find a solution for his cash flow issue – he could only purchase his inventory certain times during the year. This meant that he would have to purchase inventory once or twice a year. OKSBDC’s Business Advisor, Doris Kendrick, assisted Sells in obtaining financing as well as creating and implementing his marketing plan. Dennis said “I attribute this success to you, Doris, for your persistence in helping me achieve my goal. Thank you so much.”

You can find him on Facebook at Hitching Roast Coffee Co. Dennis Sells, Artisan Roaster or call to order 8AM-6PM 7 days a week at 918-728-1177.

Success Story…2011 Oklahoma Financial Services Champion

A dream came true in 2001 when Pamela Huddleston-Bickford founded Cherokee Data Solutions (CDS) in Claremore, Oklahoma. She began the company on a shoestring to provide computer accessories, printer supplies and data storage products. Today, CDS has customers in nearly every state across the nation, certifications in most “best of breed” technology solutions, and a product offering of over 700,000 items. Her company can support next day delivery to nearly any location in North America with over 118 distribution warehouses from coast to coast. The company has seen growth of over 2000% since 2001 based on very simple values such as knowing what it is that you do, and then keeping your word to do what you said you would do, no excuses.

From the very beginning, Pamela positioned her woman-owned, Native American, SBA 8(a) certified business to boost Indian communities by providing jobs in rural Oklahoma, and to be an advocate and mentor to other minority small businesses. CDS supports minority entrepreneurship by promoting a culture within her company of helping others achieve success. Pamela said her greatest reward is to see another person’s dream take shape and ultimately for them to reach within and change their life, and the lives of others.

Her life mission for her business is in duplicating her successful model in a turn-key solution to support economic development and job creation into remote and impoverished reservations in Indian Country throughout the United States. This dream, Global Native Supply, will bring hope to reservation communities that face unemployment that has historically topped 80%. The project tackles social issues unique to Indian Country as it addresses a non-gaming economic solution for self sufficiency and self determination.

Pamela’s greatest mentor and champion in her life was her Mom, Leona Belle Wisdom Huddleston, who taught her to always bring others along with you, and how to walk the walk, with integrity and grace. This core commitment has brought recognition and numerous awards to Cherokee Data Solutions, including the 2009 US Department of Commerce Technology Firm of the Year, the OMSDC Company of the Year, and The Cherokee Nation Business of the Year.

Success Story…Consulting Services Inc.

Ken Novotny and David Mitchell met at a gym one day and became fast friends. They soon discovered they share more than just a desire to keep physically fit. They both shared a dream of building a successful business.

Novotny worked as a defense contractor at Tinker Air Force Base while Mitchell worked for a large contracting company as a buyer. Novotny had vast experience in computer systems. Mitchell knew the process of doing business with the federal government.

“I saw immediately that Ken had great business sense. He was very personable, which seemed unusual for a typical computer geek,” Mitchell said laughing.

In the spring of 2004 the team began building their dream by working with Mike Cure, Business Advisor at the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center at Rose State College in Midwest City. Cure helped the pair build a business plan and locate space for their new enterprise as well as understand the various certifications available to Native American-owned businesses. “Mike gave us outstanding advice and became our mentor,” said Novotny.

In 2004, Novotny formed KNWEBS Inc. dba CSI, a defense contracting business. CSI offers information technology and engineering services including information assurance, cyber security, software development, data center consolidation, network security, and system security. CSI has grown from two employees and $64,000 in revenues to almost 120 employees and more than $8 million in sales in 2008.

“We have grown beyond our expectations,” said Novotny, “In the first two years we exceeded our five-year projections.” He credits much of their success to the OKSBDC. “Without the help of the great people of the OKSBDC, owning this business might still be a dream.”

Cure helped the partners with the paperwork to qualify for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB), 8(a) and Historically Underutilized Business (HUBZone) programs. CSI has been able to prove past performance from subcontract work to becoming a viable Federal contracting company with the ability to have sole source set aside contracts.

“Although we are just beginning to get into the prime contract market, we have been providing IT and engineering services to large companies like Northrop Grumman, which awarded CSI the small business excellence award in 2007,” said Novotny. “In the services business, your company is ONLY as good as the people that represent it. Our customers will only stay with us if we take good care of them.”

In 2007, Novotny established a recruiting division within CSI to ensure the company only hires the highest qualified employees to meet the customer’s expectations. This new division has caught the eyes of many Department of Defense contracting firms which use the recruiters to fulfill their requirements. “The recruiting division has tripled in growth since being stood up just a year ago,” Novotny said.

This new service has opened the doors to many of the largest Department of Defense contracting companies CSI is looking to team with on new requirements.

“Don’t wait for the ‘right time’ to begin your business,” Novotny advises others who are thinking about going into business. “Go to your local SBA representative and understand the avenues to accomplish your business plan, and then go do it! Patience is another key piece of advice. It’s going to take long hours and a lot of work but it will pay off, just give it time.”

Success Story…Shorty’s Caboy Hattery

Lavonna “Shorty” Koger, owner of Shorty’s Caboy Hattery, knew a lot about rodeos and making quality cowboy hats. However, she did not know a lot about running a successful small business until she visited with Susan Urbach at the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center (OKSBDC).

Today, her company, located in historic Stockyards City, is bursting at the seams thanks to management and technical advice received from the OKSBDC. Sales have increased 400 percent. Staff has doubled, and the company offers better salaries with employee benefits.

“I don’t know what I would have done without the OKSBDC,” said Koger. “I knew how to make and sell a great cowboy hat, but the OKSBDC has helped me understand how to run a business. I trust them. They give good, sound advice in a way a plain speaker like me can understand.”

Koger, who has been involved in the rodeo since she was 14, began her business in 1990. Determined that nothing was going to stop her, Koger said she has the only woman-owned and operated custom hattery in the United States.

Koger said she will never forget her first meeting with Urbach. “She took a marker and started drawing a tangled mess of lines all over this blackboard,” she said. “I asked her, ‘what does that mean?’ Susan said, ‘that’s how your business has been running.’ I asked her, ‘can you help me?’” That illustration became the guiding focus that you can’t do everything all at once, but you begin to start unraveling and, eventually, there will be order.

Urbach said she began helping Koger by unraveling her personnel and work flow issues.

“We walked her through letting go and hiring new people,” she said. “We spent a great deal of time talking about financial information and how to use it to help management decisions. This meant getting set up on QuickBooks and beginning to understand how it can help the company. We used information to look at cost of goods, pricing, salaries, and how she could get the most benefit out of income and maximizing every dollar. We have advised on marketing issues, looking at where she is spending her advertising dollar. In fact, recent advice has included redoing the building awning and thinking of it as a billboard, which has been helpful in increasing visibility for her retail business. And we have been working with her on redoing the layout of the retail end to maximize the sales from the space.”

“Susan is honest, patient and she told me just like it was,” Koger said. “I can’t say enough about her. I must have drove her crazy for several years.”

Koger’s top quality hats are worn by many who are well-known in the western world, including horse show and rodeo winners as well as country music stars.

Koger advises others who are thinking about going into business to “be patient and don’t ever give up. You have to have determination to succeed. I love what I do. When I decided to go into the business, I was determined that nothing was going to stop me. But, the main thing I tell people is to go see Susan,” Koger said laughing.