Small Business Testimonials – Read Our Success Stories

Technology Team, LLC

technology-teamFounded in 2003 by Sherry Green and Allen Spinner, Technology Team assists companies in assessing, coordinating and implementing seamless relocations for data centers through their proven, proprietary methodologies. Servicing high technology customers, Technology Team is the liaison between both transportation and technology companies. By 2006, the W/MBE, HUB and DBE certified company had established itself as a leader in its industry.

Experiencing significant growth as the company became a prime contractor for several major corporations, Sherry knew the time was right to update the business plan. In 2015, she again visited the Tarrant SBDC and met with the center’s director, Robin Lasher. Sherry and Allen first met with Robin in 2003 when they were starting their business and had continued to utilize the services of the Tarrant SBDC as their business grew. Robin recommended that Sherry consider attending the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. Although there was no charge for the program, Robin explained that the three month commitment would require an investment of her time. In addition to developing a customized business growth plan, she would learn to identify opportunities, receive advising from experts, collaborate with other small business owners focused on growth, and have access to an invaluable national alumni network.

During the program, Sherry continued to meet with the SBDC as she developed Technology Team’s business plan. As both a prime contractor and subcontractor, she credits the SBDC with helping her develop a clear description of the key attributes that set Technology Team apart from the competition. Sherry stated, “As we began to bid on larger contracts, the SBDC was able to help us clarify our capabilities and competitive advantages. Since starting our business, the SBDC has continued to be a great resource and sounding board for helping us qualify new opportunities.”

Clearwater Plumbers

IMG_1408 2Jeff is a hard worker and loves to learn. He started Clearwater Plumbers in 2001 and built it to a $2 million dollar company – employing 17 people. He is on track to make $3 million in 2016. In fact, Jeff has grown the company 40 – 50% since 2012. Jeff started with his brother and Dad working in the construction industry; but realized his passion was in plumbing. Jeff has had to overcome several challenges. Some initial challenges included working with family and losing family. Later, Jeff came to a realization that he needed to know his costs and other business aspects or . . . get out of the business. This motivation is what led him to the Tarrant Small Business Development Center.

Jeff first learned about the Tarrant SBDC from his Mother as she was an “article clipper” and gave him various business articles. In addition, he learned about the Tarrant SBDC from Tarrant County College. He enrolled in the FastTrac Growth Venture program being offered by Tarrant Small Business Development Center and taught by Sam Emmerson and Cynthia Harnest. The FastTrac Growth Venture program is an intensive, 10-week program designed to educate business owners on topics such as Marketing, Operations and Finance. As he says, “The class helped me look at my business as an entrepreneur instead of a technician working in the business. The Tarrant SBDC helped me start a foundation to build upon.” He created his first mission statement at the SBDC and continues to tweak it today. In addition, he has sought counseling assistance for sales and marketing and has been to various classes at the Tarrant SBDC such as: Government Contracting, Website Design Made Easy, Intro to Google Adwords, and Google Extreme. “Today, the best part about the Tarrant SBDC is the relationship I have there. I know it is a valuable resource that I can always use. I can call Cynthia and I know she has my back.” When asked what he attributes his success to, he believes persistence and being a lifelong student.

Benefit Acupuncture

The team from Benefit Acupuncture

After completing a Master Degree of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine from Texas Health and Science University in San Antonio, Texas, Hilary spent the next three years in Tianjin, China where she received her Ph.D. in acupuncture. With extensive training and internships in Texas, China, and New York, she then moved to Fort Worth, Texas to start her business, Benefit Acupuncture, PLLC. Although Hilary had extensive training and experience in both acupuncture and Chinese medicine, she had no experience in starting and managing a small business. While attending the eight week Project New Beginnings program at the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center, Hilary had written her first business plan. She also met Robin Lasher, Director of the Tarrant SBDC, who had provided online resources at one of the Project New Beginnings classes on how to find customers and determine the best places to locate a business.

Hilary met with Ms. Lasher to determine the advantages and disadvantages of the location she was considering for her business. Located in Colleyville at a busy intersection on the corner of Colleyville Blvd and Main St, the proposed location provided excellent visibility to passing motorists. In addition, there were several complimentary medical practices within the same office building as well as an adjoining office building.

Hilarys next challenge was to design a sign that would get the attention of motorists either driving by the location or waiting at the traffic light. An excellent artist, Hilary had designed her own logo, and requested several companies provide designs for the signage. She again visited with Ms. Lasher to discuss the design and colors that would be attractive and highly visible to passing motorists. With the signage in place, Hilary opened Benefit Acupuncture in May, 2015.

Hilary quickly recognized that a viable business plan must be updated to reflect the current realities of her market. In July 2015, Hilary decided to participate in the Fort Worth Business Plan Competition and was a top 10 finalist. (Statement from Hilary on the value of SBDC in starting business and business plan competition).

La Reina Auto Sales and Service

La Reina Auto Sales and Service provides repair and maintenance work for vehicles. The business is also a used car dealership. Maria D. Aaron started the business in December 2003.

Being a Hispanic woman in this line of business is extremely tough. 95% of owners of auto dealerships and mechanic shop are men. The client is usually not being taken seriously when she goes to auction to buy used cars. She also gets a lot of resistance from her clients who didn’t have confidence in her expertise just because she is a woman.

Despite all of the challenges, her business made a profit every year until 2015. That was the first year that the business suffered a loss. At that time, Maria didn’t have the fund to acquire more equipment or the inventory for her business. When she approached her primary bank for a line of credit, she was denied.

The primary reason she came to Tarrant SBDC is to get assistance for applying a line of credit for their business. The client also wanted to understand how to better manage their cashflow and build business credit for future major purchases like equipment and commercial real estate.

Advisor Cathy Trinh explained the 5C’s of credit underwriting to the client and coached her in becoming bankable. Business advisor also advised the client how to build her business’s credit in the long term and how to keep her personal and business finance separately. The advisor assisted the client in filling out her personal financial statement and packaging her loan. Then the advisor connected the client to a local bank that was appropriate for their situation.

Thanks to the assistance of business advisor Cathy Trinh, Maria was able to secure a line of credit of 150K from Mercantile Bank. The line of credit will help her to solve the cash flow issues, buy more inventory and expand her business.

DK Lube & Detail

Diea Kaleia immigrated to the USA over twenty years ago from Syria in pursuit of a better way of life. For eighteen years he worked at his brother’s used car lot gaining experience as a mechanic, which included performing vehicle inspections. In addition, he was responsible for the overall general maintenance and remodeling projects on the property.

In 2015, he and his brother parted ways, and Diea came to the Tarrant SBDC for help with getting a $53,000 loan to start a business. He had recently purchased property in Crowley, Texas that included an old dilapidated six-bay car wash. Diea needed the loan to finish out construction that would include an office and buy equipment to set up bays for oil changes, vehicle inspections, and auto detailing. He would also have a 2-bay car wash.

Diea had never owned a business, had no established credit and did not know how to write a business plan. He met with Business Advisor Efren Villanueva who recommended that Diea first attend the SBDC Start Your Business class. Efren then followed up with an onsite visit and began meeting with Diea to help him develop his business plan and financial projections.

Next, Diea worked with city inspectors and was able to make the necessary improvements. With his completed business plan, he was then able to secure the financing he needed, finish the buildout and buy his equipment. Although he planned to open in January, he ran into a snag. His bay for vehicle inspections did not meet the state length requirement. However, the city and community were very supportive of his effort to convert an eye sore into a local business. Working with city inspectors, he was able to make the necessary modifications and was finally ready to open.

Diea opened DK Lube & Detail in February. He credits Efren with helping him successfully address all the required local and state regulations necessary to rehabilitate an abandoned property and convert it into a business. With the help of his SBDC Business Advisor and hard work, he has now realized his American Dream.

Big Frog Custom T-Shirts

“It is my pleasure to recommend Cynthia Harnest to anyone who is considering starting a business or who needs sound business advice. I needed to write a business plan, create Profit & Loss Statements for the first three years of my new business, create a Pro-Forma Cash Flow Statement, a Balance Sheet and apply for an SBA Loan. Cynthia was fantastic to work with. She walked me through the entire process for producing the afore-mentioned documents and financial statements and presented the material in a way that made sense and was easy to understand. Cynthia reviewed my Business Plan several times making excellent suggestions for improvements and asking probing questions that forced me to really think through all of the steps of the business plan and collect a broad range of information that allowed for a very comprehensive snapshot of my business.

She helped me find banks to work with, provided advice on many facets of business operation, including; finding a retail location, understanding customers and how to identify and reach them, selecting merchant services providers and business systems. Every bank I talked to mentioned how good my business plan was which gave me a lot of confidence that I had thought the business out well. At the end of the process, I had several banks that were ready to make the loan, and was able to compare and select the proposal that best fit my needs. I continue to work with Cynthia, as I have moved forward with my business, and she has proven to be an excellent resource for valuable business information and a wise and experienced thought partner.”

Michael Neal, Owner
February 2014

Fondren Forensics Inc.

“It is unusual to find an organization with as much care and concern as the Small Business Development Center. I am writing today to offer my sincere appreciation. Your organization was the driving force behind the success of my business plan. I entered the business plan competition in 2012 and participated in the training and advisory services offered to me as a contestant. As a small business owner/operator, I really had no formal training on writing a business plan. Even though my company, Fondren Forensics, had been operating successfully for ten years, I had never made a business plan. I was beginning to grow my business into a new forensic discipline and without a good business plan, it would be very difficult to plan, project and move into future growth and success. I learned this as I worked with Doug, designing and refining my own plan.

I will never forget my first visit with Doug Cannon. He was personable and friendly yet direct and firm about expectations, and the work required to produce a quality finished product. He told me I had a lot of work to do and he gave me the tools I needed to get started with my project of writing this business plan. He was genuinely concerned with my effort and truly wanted me to do my very best. I felt as though Doug was in my corner and his advice helped me tremendously as I worked the tireless days and nights to formulate and perfect my business plan. Ultimately, I advanced to the finals and won second place in the competition. I know I could not have done it without Doug’s help.

As Fondren Forensics moves into the forensic blood alcohol testing business, I know there will be support from Doug and all of the SBDC staff. My only regret is that I didn’t know about their help sooner. My advice to other small businesses is to get on board with an advisor as early as possible. And, if you are lucky enough to get Doug Cannon on your team, pay attention and follow his advice because it is truly award-winning!”

Lisa E. Fondren, Owner
October 2013

EnvironX Solutions Inc.

“As I reflect back on over a year’s worth of work with the dedicated staff at SBDC a few things become very apparent. I am not the same person I was when I walked through that door a year ago and my company has greatly benefited because of the relationship I have established with the SBDC.

EnvironX Solutions, in its current form, was born in 2011. I invented and brought to market Peat FireX in May 2012, a product that has revolutionized the way the world addresses peat fires. This is the sole solution to a One Billion Dollar a year challenge worldwide. In the short time it has been on the market, Peat FireX has garnished praise from fire officials in most parts of the world and by the end of 2013; the whole world will be utilizing the product where peat phenomenon is a challenge. EnvironX Solutions Inc. is debt free and profitable. Launching a new product to fill this vital niche in the fire retardant industry and during this challenging economy has been quite an accomplishment.

I walked into Tarrant SBDC for the first time needing help writing a business plan. One year later, I was a nominee for SBA 2013 Small Business Person of the Year, Dallas/Fort Worth District. My first point of contact and still my go to person is Deb Liptak. And God bless Deb for taking my calls when I once again have my time changes confused on the other side of the world!

So, needless to say, Deb remains instrumental in helping organize all my random thoughts into a cohesive document and is always good about delegating to the proper people on her team for specialized sections. For example, Cle Royal was patient and professor-like not only in teachings me about my financials, but also in making the formulas work correctly on the spreadsheets. Cheryle Hays was instrumental in helping me with marketing materials and went out of her way to meet me off campus on a very rainy day.

Myron Pullum helped me with tax planning and in anticipation of hiring my first full-time employee. I recently completed the four-hour workshop “IRS Small Business Tax Workshop” at Tarrant SBDC. Attending this half-day seminar provided me with critical information covering current tax laws and reporting requirements. As a responsible business owner who anticipates hiring several employees in 2013, I also have plans to attend additional training seminars on relevant HR and health care requirements, as employees are hired.

So this is a thank-you note to the Tarrant SBDC for helping my small business grow and develop during these tough economic times. I look forward to a continued relationship with Tarrant SBDC, with Deb, Cle, Myron, Cheryle and the other Business Advisors in the near future. It is organizations like Tarrant SBDC that will help the small businesses grow and develop. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to assist and help in your endeavors.”

Steve Sinunu, Owner
September 2013

The Law Office of Antoinette Bone

“I run an estate planning law practice. Although I have been out of school since 1996, I haven’t practiced that entire time. There are about 4 years when I did not work. I have not practiced estate planning exclusively until this year. My legal background is quite broad. My experience practicing estate planning came from my time as a JAG in the Air Force and as a civilian working for the Army.

I opened my estate planning practice in May of this year. I formed as a professional limited liability company. I used the SBDC to help me flesh out the business plan I had started writing, research, and to do the financial projections. All of this was pre-venture. All of the assistance I received was invaluable. I definitely do not know what I would have done had I not had the assistance with the financial projections. Tim Phillips’ assistance with that was outstanding. Not only did he explain to me how the math worked but he really did all the work on that.

Without having gone through the process of writing a business plan, I don’t think my practice would be on a delineated path. I would be like most other attorneys out there flying by the seat of their pants when it comes to business. The company I hired used the research I obtained from the SBDC to help formulate my marketing plan for the year. The financial projections have helped me stay on track and give me a goal to attain. Otherwise, I think I would be quite directionless and haphazard about keeping an eye on the money.”

Antoinette Bone, Owner
February 2012

Bliss Bridal Salon

“When starting down the path to opening a small business in Fort Worth, we were directed to the Tarrant Small Business Development Center. We had the pleasure of working with Cle Royal during the process and as a reference source for the past few years. The insight and provided to us by Mr. Royal and the Tarrant SBDC has proved invaluable and significant to our growth as a business.

As new business owners back in 2007, we were unaware of the processes and requirements of the state and local governments regarding licenses, taxation and structure. The guidance and counseling received by the Tarrant SBDC helped us to make the right decisions initially, and has continued to benefit us as we have grown. In turn, this has enabled us to ensure we have made the necessary changes in our business profile to adjust for growth.

Through the sound advice that we received during our counseling sessions, our business has more than doubled in size from our initial venture into the bridal industry, allowing us to create and provide jobs to Fort Worth residents that otherwise would not have been available.

We value the help you have provided us over the years, and would highly recommend to any new business entrepreneurs that they take full advantage of all that the SBDC has to offer.”

JT and Wendy Holsomback, Owners
February 2012