Success Story…MultiPrint

After 24 years of friendship, Dean Martin and Tracy Johnson discovered they had a common goal – to become business owners. The pair met while Dean was a sales representative making the rounds at an area manufacturing plant where Tracy worked. “We had a strong friendship, trusted each other completely, and knew the time was right for a change,” says Dean Martin.

They had been searching for over a year when MultiPrint, a Tulsa-based print company with an outstanding reputation, came on the market. Dean developed a business plan, and the pair started shopping for financing. First, they went to the bank that was serving MultiPrint’s account, and were turned down. “Neither of us had a working knowledge of the print industry,” says Tracy. “We looked into SBA loans, and were told that we did not have the print industry experience they wanted to see,” adds Dean.

Dean and Tracy were determined not to get discouraged when they were referred to the staff at the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center. “We needed a bank that would think like we were thinking,” said Dean. John Blue, an OKSBDC Business Advisor, had knowledge of area banks that might consider the venture. “He set up an appointment with Oklahoma National Bank, and took us right to the bank. He was the guy that helped make it happen.”

With their own saving as equity, Dean and Tracy were approved for a $512,000 loan, and they purchased the business in May of 2004. “John saw us through the process and helped us get everything ready,” says Dean. “MultiPrint had a proven track record and outstanding employees which has made a big difference,” says Dean. “We’ve been able to meet all our projections and grow the business just the way we intended.” Plans for 2005 include new equipment that will improve their print capabilities. “We will be going digital this year. We specialize in book printing and digital is the way to go.” Future strategies include additional outside sales staff and an internet site.

“The biggest surprise was the 16 hour days. New business owners need to be prepared to work long and hard to succeed. Don’t give up and stay the course,” says Dean, “John comes by at least once a month to check on things and to remind us that the OKSBDC is always there to help.”

“Buying our own business has truly been very exciting. The OKSBDC was great. They helped us grow and nurture our dream,” says Tracy.

Success Story…Meek Machine & Manufacturing

With the confidence and exuberance of youth, Derrell Meek started his first business at age 24. Opening his doors and eager to conquer the world, Derrell quickly found there was far more to business ownership than he could have imagined. “I didn’t like the stress. I could produce the products, but I needed more experience in management and finance.”

For the next eleven years, Derrell worked as a manager for Surgical Specialties, Inc., an Ada manufacturer with national distribution. When they closed their doors in 2003, Derrell once again had a lifetime opportunity to acquire precision machine equipment and to be his own boss. Needing help and needing to act quickly, he turned to the Ada Jobs Foundation. They referred him to Ann Ritter and the staff at the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center.

With the capital he needed and help from the Ada Industrial Development Corporation, Meek located a building site. Not willing to accept the bids he received for the building construction, Derrell’s entrepreneurial spirit went into overdrive, and he made the decision to do most of the work himself. Looking back, Derrell might have reconsidered, had he known how much harder he would have to work in the very near future.

With the many contracts he made while working with Surgical Specialties, Derrell had more contracts than he could fill. Within ten months, Meek found himself back at the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center and talking about expansion needs with Ann Ritter. By late November, he had installed more equipment and hired an employee with his second SBA loan. The OKSBDC, the Ada Jobs Foundation, the AIDC, the Pontotoc Technology Center and First National Bank and Trust of Ada helped Derrell ensure his success. “All the community resources worked together. We wouldn’t be here without them,” says Meek.

Meek’s future could not be brighter. He plans to branch out and is looking forward to developing an internet presence. From the very beginning, Derrell had the spirit, the drive and the enthusiasm to ensure he would succeed. With a little time, some valuable experience and expert help from area resources, Derrell can conquer the world.

Success Story…Gold Star Graphics, Inc.

Gold Star Graphics, Inc. started as a part time project for Pam Guffey when a friend from Dallas, who owned a successful graphics business, encouraged Pam to try the same in Oklahoma City. After just three months, Pam had more screen printing and embroidery orders than she could fill. Turning to her husband Stan for help, they became full-time entrepreneurs that fall of 1987.

In the life cycle of a business, one must consider every imaginable circumstance and plan for both success and failure. But how often does a business owner worry about a natural disaster? For Gold Star, it was a double disaster. Only sheer determination and commitment have kept the Guffey’s going after not one, but two tornadoes. The business was down for 10 days after being hit by the first storm in 1999. The second tornado struck Oklahoma City in 2003, totally destroying the Gold Star building and much of their equipment. “This business has been good to us,” says Pam. “We were determined to get back into production as soon as possible, and we needed help.”

Gold Star moved into temporary quarters and the Guffey’s went back to work. When starting to rebuild, the couple’s banker was less than helpful. A friend recommended the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center for help with loan packaging assistance. Tammy Allard, a loan specialist with over 15 years of experience, knew immediately she could help the award winning Gold Star secure an SBA loan to help rebuild.

Tammy helped the couple revise their business plan, put together the SBA paperwork, and negotiate the terms of their new loan. “Tammy was great. She kept me motivated through that difficult time,” says Pam.

The Guffeys are now in their new building and keep 17 employees busy. “Having great employees has given us the freedom we have always wanted.” The future is bright for Gold Star and several 2005 strategies include working with the OKSBDC to identify and develop new markets. These markets will include government contracts. “Tammy is walking us through the contracting maze, and we are excited about the future.”