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.

Success Story…Bicycle Alley

“It was just perfect,” says Terry Enos owner of Bicycle Alley. “The OKSBDC provided us with the tools, and three months later we had a business plan.” Enos had years of experience in the corporate world but wasn’t sure how to bring his ideas into focus. “Carlos asked all the right questions,” says Enos. “Carlos Amaya and the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center showed me the ropes and gave me the structure I needed to open my business.”

Terry had been interested in the world of bicycles for many years and had a head full of ideas about what the perfect bicycle shop in Oklahoma City should look like. He started researching and visiting other shops throughout the United States, talking to owners and customers to find out what made a good shop successful.

Enos discovered the OKSBDC would help him build a business plan that he could take to the bank. Under Amaya’s guidance, Terry put together a package that helped him secure the loan he needed to make his dream ready to roll.

Bicycle Alley opened in April of 2007. The shop boasts six employees and ample space for a specialized inventory that caters to even the most discriminating client. With specialty items you can’t find anywhere else in the area, they also offer on-site repair service.

As soon as Terry opened his doors, Carlos knew they had a winner. In a few short months, Terry has beaten every sales projection and was voted “Best New Business” by the Oklahoma Gazette.

“Terry’s extensive research and knowledge of the industry impressed me,” says Amaya. “He had the commitment and drive it takes to follow through.” The OKSBDC worked with Terry to develop a network and find mentors within the industry. “He realized you have to plan, plan, plan. It takes more than just opening the doors and expecting business to walk in. Terry was ready to do the work and do it right.”

“Carlos still checks on me. He is interested in my daily success stories and is always ready to help when I have a question. The OKSBDC showed me how to get from A to Z. The level of understanding they offered was invaluable. You won’t be alone. They can help a little or a lot.”

Success Story…TnT Quick Stop

 

Dustin Sheppard was no stranger to entrepreneurship when he decided to start a new venture in Roff, Oklahoma. Dustin had grown up watching his father run a family dairy farm. The purchase of one truck to help with hauling soon turned into more trucks, and that snowball eventually found the family out of the dairy business and running a successful trucking line.

Dustin was hooked and learned everything he could about the industry, finally ending up with his own string of trucks. As the business grew for Dustin and wife Christy, they realized they could streamline their business by providing the fuel for their own trucks.

As a graduate of East Central University in Ada, Dustin was aware of the business assistance offered to the community through the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center. When Dustin told his family he was interested in a starting a new venture, his mother suggested he get help from the OKSBDC located on the university campus.

“They were awesome. If it hadn’t been for Ann, we would still be doing paper work,” Sheppard said. “We recognized that the Sheppards could apply for a community express loan and we started the paperwork immediately,” said Ann Ritter, OKSBDC Business Advisor. “We helped them put together a business plan and cash flow projections to complete their loan package.”

The couple qualified for the SBA loan which gave them the working capital they needed to open the doors to T&T Quick Stop. “The kids now have a safe, clean place to eat. We’re really excited about the possibilities. We are putting in a smoke pit and hope to be serving B-B-Q soon,” said Sheppard. “Direct access to fuel for our growing truck line has boosted our profitability and given us the satisfaction of helping the community at the same time.”

“The OKSBDC team was a lifeline. They walked us through the process, helping with the strict licensing required for dispensing gas and serving food. I would highly recommend to anyone thinking about a new business -call the OKSBDC. They will help you get it done the right way.”

Success Story…AEA Environmental Services

After eight years in business Elijah Adoeye, owner of AEA Environmental Services, thought it was time to expand his market. He started looking into the possibilities of a federal program for minority contractors and soon discovered plenty of obstacles that included a complex application process and stiff competition.

When asked about the challenges of qualifying for 8 (a) certification through the Small Business Administration, Elijah chuckles, “It was not easy at all. The process is a challenge and we could not have done it without help from Oklahoma Small Business Development Center.”

One of Elijah’s employees told him about the OKSBDC located on the campus of Rose State College in Midwest City. Mike Cure talked with Elijah about his goals for AEA, “We suggested he apply for 8(a) and Hubzone certifications. Elijah was not familiar with the process, and we recommended he work with Marvin Fisher at the OKSBDC.”

“Mr. Fisher helped me tremendously through the cumbersome application process. We achieved certification, but i was surprised at how long the process took. They have stuck with me through it all. We are different from most cleaning companies. We not only offer janitorial options, we deal with hazardous waste,” says Elijah.

After 20 years as a microbiologist in the medical field Elijah said “I was always looking for an opportunity to work on my own, and the cleaning service seemed like a great opportunity to utilize my background and training.” AEA is now certified to work government contracts in the area of hazardous and non-hazardous waste management. The company also performs waste removal, disposal, commercial cleaning, final construction cleaning, Phase 1 environmental inspection, mold sampling and remediation and lead-base paint abatement.

“Within two months, I got a call from Mrs. Woodfork about a federal contract she thought would be perfect. We submitted a bid and won because of our environmental background. Ms. Woodfork and Mr. Cure worked together to help put the bid together, and we won the contract. Cure also recommended we get certified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise. That was successful and we are looking forward to bidding on other government jobs through the Department of Transportation. Although the process has been challenging, the expertise of the counselors has been invaluable. They are constantly reviewing our operation and our position in the market to make sure we are getting the greatest advantage.” — Elijah Adeoye

Success Story…Davis Welding, LLC

In 2007, Scott Davis needed a way to haul large round bales of hay without investing in a large tractor or putting a hay spike in the back of his truck. Using his 25 years of welding skills and experience, Davis went to work and built the “Stick Wagon” hay hauler. “I came up with it out of necessity,” says Davis. The Stick Wagon is uniquely designed to be used with an ATV such as a 4-Wheeler or a John Deere Gator, small garden tractor, or other small motorized vehicle that normally could not be used to move large round bales of hay. The Stick Wagon can also be pulled with the traditional farm truck or tractor. The key to the functionality of the Stick Wagon is balance. It has been engineered to carry the weight of the hay bale on the wagon itself with minimum weight being transferred to the vehicle pulling the Stick Wagon. With the fold back tongue, the Stick Wagon can also be used as a hay feeder.

Realizing that he had a one of a kind hay hauler, Davis took his idea to the OSU Inventor’s Assistance Service where they ran a patent search and found that he had a clear, distinctive idea. The OSU Inventor’s Assistance Service provided funds for a patent lawyer to do the provisional patent on the Stick Wagon. The Davis’ were then referred to the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center for assistance in expanding their custom welding business into a manufacturing firm.

“The OKSBDC has helped us with licensing and the selection of a business structure to ensure the Stick Wagon has a successful future. The OKSBDC has been with us every step of the way,” says Scott Davis.

Davis contacted Melinda Craige in the Oklahoma SBDC and explained the concept of the Stick Wagon. Melinda then referred Davis to Bill Gregory in the OKSBDC for assistance with copyright and patent issues. Bill suggested that Davis file a Visual Arts, Technical Drawing Copyright on the idea so that he would have protection on how the Stick Wagon was made and prepared a draft of the copyright. Davis had been invited to bring his invention, the Stick Wagon, to the Farm Show in Tulsa. Because Davis needed to have his idea protected before introducing the Stick Wagon to the public, Bill worked quickly to prepare the copyright. Melinda then worked with the Davis’ to prepare a business plan, structure Davis Welding as an LLC, to obtain a sales tax permit and a manufacturing permit.

“The key to the success of Davis Welding LLC has been Scott and Kasey’s commitment to the development of the business. The Davis’ have received assistance from non-profit organizations, family, and friends and have made the most of every opportunity presented to them,” says Melinda Craige.