Issuu on Google+

Special Edition:

20 Hampto n Women are Roads fea in the 2011 tured S Minerva Aw BI ards. p. 26

March/April 2011

A walk through Olde Towne Portsmouth businesses. p. 9

The income tax breakdown. p. 12

How to revamp your product line and keep consistent branding. p. 44

A Recipe for Sweet Success smallbusinessinsight.com

A Lifetime of Achievement for this Hampton Roads Business Owner. p. 22

Pictured: Rowena Fullinwider, owner of Rowena’s. Photo taken in the mid-80s.

PRESORTED STANDARD US POSTAGE PAID NORFOLK VA PERMIT 292


2 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011


smallbusinessinsight.com

3


Up Coming Events

small business insight small business insight

YO U N G G U N S 2011 business awards

Celebrating the next generation of entrepreneurs. August 3rd 路 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. smallbusinessinsight.com/sbi-young-guns

The SBI Owners Council is a thriving membership organization within Small Business Insight. Its members enjoy monthly luncheons, quarterly symposiums, charity events and socials. For more information and a list of events, visit www.smallbusinessinsight.com/sbi-owners-council.

4 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011


Contents Women-Owned Businesses

Crunching the Numbers An insight into womenowned small businesses across the nation. p. 18 We Heart Small Business Showing support for organizations that support the owners of small businesses. p. 20 Chemist to Confectionist A tribute to the 2011 SBI Minerva Lifetime Achievement Award winner. p. 22 Meet the Panelists Who are the five women who chose this year’s honorees? p. 25

A lifetime of achievement Rowena Fullinwider of Rowena’s Gourmet Foods, is this year’s SBI Minerva Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Picture above, and on the cover, Rowena is also celebrated for her contributions to the Hampton Roads community through a montage of photos showing the progression of her business, beginning on page 22.

Meet the Honorees 20 women business owners in Hampton Roads in our first-ever SBI Minerva awards. p. 26

smallbusinessinsight.com

5


Contents

41

20 44

Main Street Olde Towne Portsmouth

One of Hampton Roads’ most quaint neighborhoods, illustrated through photos. To learn more about this business district from the perspective of the business owners in Olde Towne Portsmouth, visit smallbusinessinsight.com/ main-street.

p. 9

Value Drivers

Sinclair Communications

p. 12

p. 42

A look at the characteristics buyers look for when deciding what company to buy and how much to pay.

Government Contracting A guide for preparing your company for incurred cost proposals.

p. 13

Paying Your Fare Share

A breakdown of taxes, your money and how it is being spent by the federal government.

p. 14

How radio has evolved over time, and still remains a viable, growing medium.

Hudson Luxury

Owners exemplify what it is like to expand a family business into a luxury brand.

p. 44

Tycon Medical

How one owner is revolutionizing the way relationships are managed in the home medical equipment industry.

p. 46 .

6 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011


Kudos! March/April 2011 Vol. 3, Issue 2 900 Commonwealth Place, Suite 212 Virginia Beach, VA 23464 757-880-7461 smallbusinessinsight.com e-mail: info@smallbusinessinsight.com

PUBLISHER Art Radtke

ASSISTANT TO THE PUBLISHER Shannon Highland

editor

Jessica O. Swink

Design Editor

Amanda L. Elliott

Copy Editor

Jackie Gilmartin

Congratulations to Terra in Peninsula Town Center on its grand opening Owners Council member David Nesbitt, managing partner of Terra, celebrated the new restaurant’s grand opening on March 9. The grand opening ceremony culminated with a ribbon-cutting event, led by Hampton’s Director of Economic Development, James Eason. Terra’s menu caters to a variety of tastes, and has the wine list to complement it. With more than 65 award-winning wines available by the bottle, and 30 of those available by the glass, guests enjoy many options for whatever may whet their appetite. The delicious tapas atmosphere, live jazz, and outdoor patio creates an unforgettable ambiance for guests. For more information about Terra, visit www.terrarestaurantandbar.com. — compiled by Jessica O. Swink. Photos courtesy of Rubin Communications.

Art Director Paul Chin, Jr.

Regional Director, SBI Owners Council Deb Mundy

Contributing Writers Paul DiNardo, CPA T.J. Prieur Will Rountree, CPA Jessica O. Swink

Contact Us Please e-mail info@smallbusinessinsight.com for information regarding: Advertising SBI Emerging Businesses Letters to the Editor Subscriptions E-mail sbiownerscouncilHR@gmail.com for info on SBI Owners Council

Plug into

www.facebook.com/ sbi.hamptonroads

community. Group: SBI Hampton Roads

www.twitter.com/ sbi_hamptonrds

www.flickr.com/photos/ smallbusinessinsight

smallbusinessinsight.com

7


Editor’s Desk

Learning By Example It would be awkward to be born out of your father’s head, though I’m not sure who it would be more awkward for: the baby or the father.

SBI would like to thank the following Portsmouth businesses for being Main Street participants. Amore Casual Italian Antique Adventures Baron’s Pub Brutti’s Children’s Harbor Olde Towne Commodore Theatre Elizabeth River Ferry Elizabeth River Project Governor Dinwiddie Hotel Ma Maison Montgomery Grill Ogg Stone Works Olde Towne Art Gallery The Patriot Inn Queen Bees Skipjack Nautical Wares and Marine Gallery Spirit of Independence Starboards Coffee Kiosk Travel Designers, Inc. Way Back Yonder Antiques

Read more about these businesses at smallbusinessinsight.com/ main-street

8 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011

After living through that experience, I’d also imagine it would be pretty exhausting having to be go-to person on all things medicine, wisdom, poetry, weaving, magic and crafts. After all, when would you have the time of day to invent music? All in a day’s work for Minerva – the Roman goddess of all of the above. In addition to that laundry list, though, she was also the goddess of commerce. You see, it’s no new thing for women to excel in business ownership. Hence why we’ve named our first-ever awards ceremony honoring local women business owners the SBI Minerva Awards. This year, more than 30 female small business owners applied to become part of an exclusive circle of Minerva honorees, and I pity the panelists for having to narrow that selection to 20. Since January, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with each of the honorees and learning more about their businesses. The advice and inspiring words I’ve received have been invaluable. Dory Wilgus of US Flag and Signal couldn’t have known how much I needed to hear her advice to small business owners as she looked at me intently and said, “Don’t forget where you came from, and appreciate the people that helped you get where you are.” Carrie Setliff of Image Business Interiors knows the true value of knowledge as she passes it along to other business owners in the area by offering wisdom, making connections and taking true joy in watching businesses grow. Catherine Giordano of KIS, Inc. considers advocacy for small business owners a hobby, and although she has represented small businesses on a state and national level, she still runs her company with incredible grace and strength. All of our honorees are truly remarkable, and I am a better person for having met these business owners. As an organization, we hope to find another group of 20 for the 2012 SBI Minerva Awards and continue to showcase the contributions and sacrifice that women business owners in Hampton Roads bring to the community. As you flip through the pages of this special issue of SBI, I hope you will also feel inspired and ready to make strides in your business, whether you are male or female. In an area where a former chemist/biologist can turn a hobby of making jams and cakes into a household name of Rowena’s, I’d say the sky is the limit.


Main Street Words from business owners about their neck of the woods. In this issue :

Olde Towne Portsmouth

smallbusinessinsight.com

9


10 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011


Pulse still strong in this Olde Towne Hidden gems continue to amaze and astound visitors in Portsmouth story by Jessica O. Swink photographs by Paul Chin, Jr.

Take a walk down High Street and many things become apparent: The history of the 1700s is alive and shines through the perfectly aligned city block squares, historic figures, town center and place names. The heartbeat of Olde Towne lies in the water surrounding it, and this can be admired from a table at Starboards Coffee Kiosk by the water watching ships roll in. It is a perfect walking street for tourists and passersby, peppered with antique shops, a variety of places to eat and local flares like the Olde Towne Art Gallery and The Queen Bees. Unfortunately, though, vacant storefronts and empty parking spaces in the middle of the afternoon bear the scars of a weakening economy. Chris Anuswith, president of the Olde Towne Business Association, OTBA for short, notes that it has been challenging the past couple of years for small businesses and small merchants in Olde Towne. “We’ve been treading water the past couple of years,” Anuswith explains. “Money’s just not available. And we have great deals.” The OTBA has been around for the past 50 years, and exists to promote business and tourism and work with the city — a service

that most owners in Olde Towne appreciate as some feel the City of Portsmouth could do more to promote the district. Anuswith mentions the “urban-type” issues that hang over Olde Towne, and how the closing of the Convention and Visitors Bureau has rerouted people away from the heart of Portsmouth. “There has been no real effort on behalf of the city to bring feet to the street, and that impacts our members,” Anuswith says. The OTBA compensates for this void by strengthening events and improving its website to allow members to easily connect with one another. Despite its hardships, Olde Towne Portsmouth continues to amaze and astound visitors, as there are many hidden gems tucked away. Enjoy Brutti’s Bagel Nutz with a cup of Starboards coffee while meandering the local shops. Don’t be surprised if you hear about Col. Crawford walking the streets himself and, if you ever bump into him, his stories of Olde Towne streets won’t allow you to view Portsmouth in the same way again. In a good way, of course. Visit smallbusinessinsight.com/main-street for more stories about Olde Towne Portsmouth.

“We’ve been treading water the past couple of years”

— John Robertson also contributed to this story.

smallbusinessinsight.com

11


Strategy

The Art of Accounting

PAUL DINARDO WALL, EINHORN & CHERNITZER

Economic Downturn Gives Owners Time to Work on Value Drivers

Value Drivers: The intrinsic characteristics of a company that buyers look for when deciding what company to buy and how much to pay. They are essential for the successful sale of a company and are the responsibility of the owners to create and nurture, not the employees, and include: · A stable and motivated management team. · Operating systems that improve sustain- ability of cash flows. · A solid, diversified customer base. · A realistic growth strategy. · Effective financial controls. · Stable and improving cash flow. In a strong merger & acquisition (M&A) market, buyers compare the relative strength of your company’s value drivers to those of your competitors. In today’s M&A market, however, buyers want companies that possess all of the characteristics of a well-run business. Additionally, tighter credit forces buyers to use more of their own capital to buy businesses so they look for acquisitions that carry minimal business risk. Companies with strong value drivers in place carry less risk. Companies lacking one or more value driver(s) simply will not attract interested buyers. This harsh reality means most owners have a lot of work ahead. Luckily, the economic forecast – at least for the foreseeable future – gives owners exactly that: time to install and energize the value drivers in their companies. It

also gives them time to demonstrate, over several years, the sustainability of the value drivers they create. Buyers want to know that the success or growth charted in one year can be sustained over a number of years. They bank on (and pay for) your company’s potential to grow under their ownership so they look very carefully at how long your company’s value drivers have yielded positive results. Experienced owners know that change takes time. Really experienced owners know that positive results from those changes take even longer — likely longer than even they expect. Whether interested in selling in the near future, or not, it makes eminent good sense for owners to concentrate on those elements of their businesses that create more cash flow, more sustainability, and more future value (aka value drivers). After all, isn’t this why you are in business? Working on value drivers also has the benefit of increasing an owner’s flexibility. With value drivers in place, an owner can respond quickly if “things” change. “Things” include the health of the M&A market or the health of the owner, the sudden appearance of a deep-pocketed buyer, or underlying conditions in an owner’s marketplace. Increasing flexibility also applies to exit

12 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011

planning. With a more valuable company, owners increase their “successor” options. More valuable companies are attractive to third-party buyers such as private equity groups and can often attract recapitalization funds. Finally, when owners concentrate on improving their companies’ value drivers (in order to increase company value), they often explore and pursue strategies that they may have ignored in the past. For example, many owners who thought acquiring another company involved too much effort take a new look at growth through acquisition when their future financial well-being is at stake. Installing value drivers in your company is the best thing you can do to increase both the salability of your company and its price tag, but doing so takes time. Today’s economic downturn gives you the time you need to prepare your company to sell when the M&A market recovers. When it does, will you and your company be ready? Article presented by Paul G. DiNardo, Wall, Einhorn and Chernitzer, PC, pdinardo@wec-cpa.com, a Member of Business Enterprise Institute’s International Network of Exit Planning Professionals™ © 2011 Business Enterprise Institute, Inc.


Government Contracting

Now is the time to start preparing for incurred cost proposals By WILL ROUNTREE, CPA WALL, EINHORN & CHERNITZER As soon as the accounting books are closed, government contractors should begin planning for completion of their annual incurred cost proposal (ICP) submission. The Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), the agency which audits contracts for the Department of Defense and other government agencies, requires contractors with cost reimbursable contracts invoking the Allowable Cost and Payment Clause (FAR 52.216-7) to file their final ICP with supporting documentation within six months after the end of the fiscal year (i.e. June 30 for December fiscal year ends). Although the ICP may be filed in paper form, in recent years the DCAA encourages contractors to complete the submission in an electronic format. The DCAA has developed an electronic version of the ICP which is referred to as the Incurred Cost Electronically (ICE) which consists of 24 complex excel spreadsheets, called schedules, which are designed in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). The ICP submission computes indirect rates, direct costs by contract, and indirect costs by pool, including unallowable cost. Failure to timely complete and submit the ICP timely can result in delayed or reduced payments on existing contracts, as well as an inability to bid on future contracts. Contractors have a contractual obligation to submit their incurred cost proposal by the due date whereas DCAA has nothing which binds it to a time-line for completing their audit of the contractors’ incurred cost. In fact, because of limited DCAA resources, many contractors don’t expect a final audit of their rates for some time. Currently, many ICPs submitted over the past three years have not been audited. In addition, in September 2009, a Government Accounting Office (GAO) report identified significant DCAA audit shortcomings in DCAA’s audits of ICPs. Suffice to say that audits of incurred costs remain a very sensitive matter in spite of the apparent hiatus in DCAA audit activity. In response to the GAO report, the DCAA is revamping its audit procedures. As a result, contractors should expect the DCAA to expand audit testing and spend more time on site during their audit. If the contractor has made mistakes in his ICP submissions and has overbilled the government, they may be required to refund amounts overbilled with interest and sometimes with penalties once the DCAA completes their incurred cost audit. The contractor may have the option to settle overbillings by issuing a credit against current billings to the government. Since the More on Page 16

FIND OUT:

HOW WE CAN FACILITATE HEALING & IMPROVE YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE! Acute & Chronic Back Pain Systemic Disease Neurological Disorders Sports Related Injuries Men & Women’s Health Headaches Extremity/Shoulder Pain Respiratory Dysfunction Pre/Postnatal Care Chronic Pain Gastrointestinal dysfunction Pre/Post Surgical

Call Fluidity PhysicalTherapy Today!

757.842.6562 fluidityphysicaltherapy.com

516 Innovation Dr., Ste. 100 Chesapeake, VA 23320


The Art of Accounting

Strategy

PAYING YOUR FAIR SHARE.

Interest $187 Billion Other Discretionary $437 Billion

Other Mandatory $607 Billion

T

Corporate Income Tax $138 Billion

4%

Defense $782 Billion

23%

12%

ake a look at your pay stub and you see quite a few numbers. The breakdown shows how much you’ve earned since your last pay check, then how much you are actually taking home. As depressing as the latter number may be, taxes (as reluctant as we are to admit it) are a vital part of how our country operates. Taxes may keep roads paved and the military well funded, but where else do federal tax dollars get spent? Just how are your income taxes divided in the grand scheme of things? Other $99 Billion

5%

TARP $151 Billion

Excise Tax $62 Billion

20%

19% Medicare & Medicaid $676 Billion

Social Security $678 Billion

Total $3,518 Billion US Federal Spending — 2009 Fiscal Year SOURCE: White House Office of Management and Budget

Individual Income Tax $915 Billion

5% 3%

17%

7% 43%

Spending, Defined. Discretionary : This number is set on a yearly basis and is optional, meaning Congress can decide how much it allocates to different programs. Amount Spent :

$1,219 Billion Mandatory : entitlement program spending, the programs funded with this number include Social Security, Medical, Medicaid and income support services.

42%

Amount Spent :

Social Security $891 Billion Total $2,105 Billion US Federal Receipt — 2009 Fiscal Year SOURCE: White House Office of Management and Budget

14 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011

$2,112 Billion SOURCE: whitehouse.gov www.mybanktracker.com


The Real Breakdown

SOURCE: White House Office of Management and Budget

By PAUL DINARDO, CPA WALL, EINHORN & CHERNITZER The IRS has released data on 2008 individual income taxes. As the data show, the top 1 percent of tax returns paid 38 percent of all federal individual income taxes while earning 20 percent of adjusted gross income, compared to 2007 when those figures were 40.4 percent and 22.8 percent, respectively. The top-earning 5 percent of taxpayers with adjusted gross income (AGI) over $159,619 paid far more than the bottom 95 percent. The top 5 percent paid 58.7 percent of federal individual income taxes but earned 34.7 percent of the nation’s adjusted gross income. Overall, these data on high-income tax returns appear to confirm that the recent recession had actually reduced income inequality, not increased it as had been widely reported. In 2008 almost 52 million tax returns were filed with either positive or negative AGI that used exemptions, deductions and tax credits to completely eliminate their federal income tax liability. Because of refundable tax credits like the earned income credit, they not only got back every dollar of federal withholdings, but some even received more back from the IRS. Taxpayers with

an AGI of $159,619 or more in 2008 fell into the nation’s top 5 percent of income earners. To make the top 1 percent, a taxpayer needed AGI of at least $380,354, which was significantly less than the 2007 threshold of $410,096. If you wanted to break the top 0.1 percent, you needed AGI of $1.8 million which was a significant drop from the 2007 level of $2.15 million. Federal individual income tax remains highly progressive. The average tax rate in 2008 ranged from around 23.27 percent for the top 1 percent down to 2.7 percent of income for the bottom 50 percent. For the top 1 percent and 0.1 percent, the average income tax rate increased from 2007 to 2008 despite lower income. This rate differential is most likely explained by diminished capital gain and dividend income which are taxed at lower rates coupled with a higher percentage of ordinary income which is taxed at higher rates.

Overall, these data on high-income tax returns appear to confirm that the recent recession had actually reduced income inequality, not increased it as had been widely reported. smallbusinessinsight.com

15


Strategy

The Art of Accounting

From page 13 DCAA is so far behind in completing audits of incurred costs, cost issues discovered early during a multi-year contract could be repeated in subsequent years resulting in several years of overpayments, interest and penalties. To avoid such problems, it is imperative that contractors assemble a qualified team that understands reporting requirements of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). If your company does not have the in-house qualifications, it is imperative that you seek the expertise of a consultant with DCAA experience. The proper preparation of an ICP starts with a DCAA compliant accounting system that properly segregates direct, indirect, general and administrative (G&A) and unallowable costs. Contractors must have sound accounting policies that are well documented and followed consistently from contract to contract and from one accounting period to another.

Contractors should compare current years ICP to prior year’s submission and review the data for inconsistencies. Inconsistencies mostly likely cause audit issues, reclassification of costs, or result in certain costs being deemed unallowable for cost reimbursement. Contractors can be proactive should an error be found on a previous ICP submission. Previous ICPs can be corrected, amended and submitted to the DCAA to correct errors and avoid audit adjustments by the DCAA when they finally audit the incurred cost. Errors discovered once an ICP has been selected for audit cannot be corrected and become a DCAA audit finding. In closing, the DCAA audit emphasis has been on the requirement that an adequate ICP be filed within six months after the fiscal year end. It remains to be seen if and when the DCAA will aggressively start pursuing the completion of timely incurred cost audits and to what extent the scope and duration of these audits will be expanded,

thanks to the DCAA response to the GAO reports. The accounting complexities for government contractors subject to DCAA-incurred cost audits continue to increase. Contractors should use the DCAA’s complacency to their advantage to review previous submissions for errors or inconsistencies and, when errors are found, be proactive in submitting amended filings before the DCAA comes knocking on the door. The best defense to reduce costly audit disputes and/ or findings years down the road is to pay good attention to the preparation of your Incurred Cost Proposal today. Will Rountree is a shareholder at Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer, with more than 30 years of public accounting experience and expertise in the areas of audit and accounting, financial statement analysis, cash flow and financing, and business consulting. He leads the Government Contracting Industry niche for the firm.


smallbusinessinsight.com

17


Insight

Women Business Owners

CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS SBI PRESENTS AN INSIDE LOOK AT WOMEN-OWNED SMALL BUSINESSES.

One in five firms with revenue of $1 million or more is woman-owned.

The three cities with the largest number of women-owned businesses in 2007 were New York City, with 305,145; Los Angeles, with 136,626; and Chicago, with 92,132.

Women-owned businesses economic impact annually.

3% of all womenowned firms have revenues of $1 million or more compared with 6% of men-owned firms.

18 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011

If U.S.-based women-owned businesses were their own country, they would have the 5th largest GDP in the world, trailing closely behind Germany, and ahead of countries including France, United Kingdom and Italy.


We Welcome You Spa Membership Programs Available

Monthly Massage for $59–– (upgrade to other spa services for only $19!)

detox | wraps | wellness services massage | facials | waxing | nails gentleman’s spa | parties full service hair salon Women-owned firms account for 40% of all privately held firms.

757.436.1141 Natural-ElementsSpa.com

Find Special Offers on our Facebook page! 5 Time Best of Hampton Roads award winner!

Source : US Census Bureau & Center for Women’s Business Research

smallbusinessinsight.com

19


Insight

Women Business Owners

We figured since we were showcasing the achievements of local women-owned businesses, we should also feature the organizations that support the business owners. Here, on display, are six local organizations that do just such. * If your organization loves small businesses, we’d love to list it on our website. Visit smallbusinessinsight.com/heart for more information.

1. Women in Defense · widghr.org Women in Defense (WID), a national security organization cultivates and supports the advancement and recognition of women in all aspects of national security. The Greater Hampton Roads chapter includes women and men supporting and defending our nation’s security, and provides networking and professional development opportunities. 2. The Geekettes Club · thegeekettesclub.com Inspiring innovation through technology, creativity and collaboration, The Geekettes Club provides women from all walks of life, regardless of background, education, or financial standing, the support, tools and resources needed to advance in their careers and personal lives.

20 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011

1

4

3. Executive Women’s International

ewi-hamptonroads.org

A community is everywhere that we interact, do business, live, and connect. As a professional organization, EWI recognizes the importance of giving back to the community by supporting education and literacy. The Hampton Roads chapter annually sponsors a Reading Rally event at an area elementary school located in an impoverished neighborhood, funds and awards a number of scholarships each year to support students who invest in their future through education, and has provided Adult Students in Scholastic Transition (ASIST) scholarships to adults in a transitional period in their life such as single parents or displaced workers going back to school.


2 3

5 4. American Association of University Women aauwofva.org

In the Hampton Roads area there are five branches of AAUW (American Association of University Women). All branches strive to meet the goal of advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. AAUW, founded in 1881, is open to all graduates who hold an associate or higher degree from a regularly accredited college or university. In principle and practice, AAUW values and seeks a diverse membership. There shall be no barriers to full participation in this organization on the basis of gender, race, creed, age, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or class. 5. The Noblewomen · thenoblemen.org The Noblemen is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization based out of Virginia Beach which includes eight member chapters located

6

throughout the Hampton Roads region. To include the three newest chapters which are the Noblewomen Chapters in Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Our mission is very simple. We identify and perform Noble Deeds for great local kids who need of help. 6. The National Association of Women Business Owners

nawbo.org

The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) propels women entrepreneurs into economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide by strengthening the wealth creating capacity of our members and promoting economic development within the entrepreneurial community, creating innovative and effective change in the business culture, building strategic alliances, coalitions and affiliations and transforming public policy and influencing opinion makers. smallbusinessinsight.com

21


Insight

Women Business Owners

Rowena Fullinwider from Chemist to Confectionist

A tribute to the 2011 SBI Minerva Lifetime Achievement Award winner. By Jessica O. Swink · All photographs contributed.

t all started with three trees. “In the back yard, I had a plum, a fig and a crabapple tree, which are three of the worst fruits to make jam with, but they make some of the most delicious jams,” says Rowena Fullinwider, former owner and founder of Rowena’s. “I decided I couldn’t let all that fruit sit around. Crabapples are a pain in the neck, but there’s just nothing like the jam.” Little did she know at the time, she was on her way to building an iconic gourmet food store set in quaint Norfolk, and constructing a legacy that would follow her for years to come. “So that’s how I got started,” she says quite factually. “I gave it all away, of course. And then came the almond pound cake, and everybody loves that.” While she and a friend were raising money for opera education in the schools, Fullinwider then decided to put her cake baking talents to good use and decided to sell cakes to raise money for the program. In just a few years, Fullinwider and others were able to raise about $5,000 to buy tapes, machines and materials for school children. “It’s interesting because they would have never been exposed to that. And for some of them, it was life changing,” she explains. “Ten years later, I had three or four people come to me and say that it gave them the courage to use their instruments professionally to see if they could earn a living with it.” Still, at this point, Fullinwider will explain that she was quite happy with her current career as a chemist and biologist at Chil-

22 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011

dren’s Hospital for the King’s Daughters, and had no desire to start her own business. After becoming involved with Operation Smile, word got around of her sweet baking talents and there quickly became a demand for her cakes to be bought for the doctors involved with the program. She quickly found herself looking for a kitchen with the capacities to support such an order. “You have to (bake and cook) in a legitimate place,” she explains. “I started making them in church kitchens, which are always certified. Then, we found this place, and I told my husband, ‘We can get this started and you can take it over. I’ll stay at King’s Daughters.” (After all, she once again politely smiles and states that she was very happy with her current position at the hospital.) “So this place was all broken. It had a door and one window, so we rehashed it and built a building inside of it. At first, we started


smallbusinessinsight.com

23


Insight

2011 SBI Minerva Awards

off renting just one little section, which is currently the store. Then we ended up renting it all,” she says. After a few years, Rowena was running the store entirely on her own, building a highly desired recipe for years to come. Of course, the road to sweet success always has a few bumps along the way. In the 1990s, the FDA and Congress were working together to pass legislation to require all food processors to add nutritional labeling to their products. One of the parts of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 was to make small businesses owners have their food products undergo laboratory analysis. “You see, Congress had a good idea. We needed all that. Then, the FDA got a hold of it and gummed it all up,” Fullinwider says. She explains that the Act would have shut many gourmet food companies down, as the FDA was requiring food to be analyzed once a quarter through certified labs, at the capacity of those working labs. Should a technician make a mistake, the burden would be on the small business owner to cover all costs. “As a chemist, I knew how expensive all of the testing would be,” Fullinwider says. “All I wanted was a small business exception. Well, now they all have it. It’s so much more reasonable.” Achieving this victory wasn’t easy. For three years, she worked with lawyers and even testified before Congress. “All of the big guys with lawyers and dark suits got up and testified. Then it was my turn,” she says. “I don’t even remember what I said. You only have three minutes. But at the end, men actually

stood up on their chairs in the back and clapped.” So the bill was thrown out and was re-written. It can now be found in the Congressional Record under Rowena’s Bill, and was passed at the tail end of Clinton’s first budget. As a result, about 8,000-9,000 small gourmet food companies across the country were able to stay in business. “I stay on top of legislature, and I think all small business people should,” she says. “Small businesses have more regulations than just about any body, and it’s harder and more expensive for us to deal with.” Although she has officially stepped down as owner and passed the reigns to a capable and determined John McCormick, she still continues to stay busy in the community. Ask Rowena, and she will tell you that she has no immediate plans. “I really haven’t had a chance to take a breath. Chemo keeps me pretty busy. I’m just waiting to feel better, although I’m doing very well,” she says. “Basically, having been an 8-year ovarian cancer patient, I was telling someone once that there are some days when you don’t want to get out of bed, but you just have a schedule that keeps you going and you do get out of bed and you stay involved. And I think staying involved, whether it’s church or family, is critical,” she says. “It all comes down to people and relationships and helping one-on-one, even if it you are not physically well.”

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2011 SBI MINERVA AWARD RECIPIENTS

We are proud to have relationships with many of the 2011 SBI Minerva Award Recipients, women business owners in our communities, leading examples for us all to follow. We Can. And We Will.


Meet the SBI Minerva Award Panelists Joanna Brumsey

Joanna represented the SBI Owners Council as judge for the 2011 SBI Minerva Awards. She is a shareholder at the accounting firm of Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer, P.C. and is the leader of the Manufacturing, Distribution and Retail Team. In addition to being an active member of the SBI Owners Council, Joanna was named to the Hampton Roads “Top 40 Under 40” list in 2010 and is currently a member of the Class of 2011 of Lead Hampton Roads.

small business insight

Linda Cramer

Linda is vice president of Women in Defense Greater Hampton Roads (WIDGHR), and assisted in evaluating the SBI Minerva Award applicants. A certified federal contracts manager, Linda specializes in marketing, business development, contract negotiation and execution of federal agency contracts. Linda is the president of a woman-owned small business, Q10 Government Contracting, and understands the challenges SBI Minerva applicants have experienced in building their businesses.

Sandy Dumont

As CEO of The Image Architect image consulting firm, Sandy has worked with Fortune 500 companies for 30 years to empower their staff through image skills. She is passionate in helping women level the playing field with men by dressing more powerfully. Representing NAWBO on the panel, Sandy is an active member of this extraordinary organization, whose main purpose is helping women grow their businesses and achieve greater financial success, providing active support through workshops, mentoring, mastermind groups, networking and social events.

Sonya Schweitzer

Sonya is a passionate and sometimes fanatical proponent of the marketing industry. She is a seasoned marketing executive, currently managing the launch of a new social e-commerce product, Sold.com, at Dominion Enterprises. Sonya is a strong advocate of women in business and founded The Geekettes Club in 2009 for women to inspire innovation through technology, creativity, and collaboration.

Meet our featured Honorees at the SBI Minerva Luncheon featuring Guest Speaker

Rowena Fullinwider

2011 SBI Minerva Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Wednesday · April 6th Holiday Inn | Newtown Road 11:30a.m.–1 p.m. For ticket and luncheon information visit sbiminerva.eventbrite.com

Lauren Small

Lauren is a speaker, trainer, and consultant for the Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center whose primary mission is to support small businesses in defining and achieving greater success. She is a strategist who has a passion for helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. Her background includes more than 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, education and consulting. She lives in Virginia Beach with her husband and three children. smallbusinessinsight.com

25


Insight

2011 SBI Minerva Award Honorees

small business insight

Small Business Insight is proud to present the 2011 Minerva Honorees. This group of women are business owners in Hampton Roads, have been in business for three or more years, and yield an annual revenue of $500,000 or more. And that is just the tip of accomplishments for this group. All honorees were judged by an independent panel of women on other important factors including community service and involvement, leadership of business, as well as growth of their business. In total, this year’s SBI Minerva honorees are responsible for more than $166 million in combined revenue, and employ more than 800 people. 26 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011


Photo by David Burden

Sara Baldwin

Owner, New Ravenna Mosaics Exmore

Carolyn Boyer

President, DMG Federal Newport News In 15 years, DMG Federal has evolved from a $1,700 investment with two employees to a $10 million enterprise with 47 employees. President Carolyn Boyer describes her role in the business as the “stabilizer,” and the “right-now person.” “My husband Keith has a great gift of

Just as mosaics are made up of tiny pieces of material to create a large work of art, Sara Baldwin has transformed her business into a masterpiece since she first started in 1992. “It’s an interesting process,” Baldwin explains. “I think market research is key — really listening to potential customers and filtering the information. The customers will of course be part of the hopefully synergistic equation that will one day equal your business.” Another factor that Baldwin says goes into turning one’s passion into a successful business is to find the right people who are willing to add their talents. “Unless you plan on being a one-woman (or man) band, you better be on the lookout for people who can play guitar, or sing, or dance,” Baldwin says. In her experience, the two things that make great employees are an optimistic, happy outlook and a good work ethic. Baldwin and her team specialize in the idea of “utilitarian art,” which is an elaborate tile that performs a function. “A painting elicits an emotional or intel-

lectual response,” Baldwin explains. “You don’t physically interact with it. It’s not really practical. Conversely, mosaics are useful. They protect and seal surfaces.” She compares it to the organic farming movement: it is a very labor intensive process that produces a beautiful, useful product. “Certainly (mosaics) can be artistic as well, but they also have a function in the same way a table or stove has a function,” Baldwin explains. “Conveniently enough (for me), when an object possesses a function, it’s also easier for the customer to justify the cost. Many people will pay $3,000 for a foyer floor but wouldn’t ever spend that much on ‘art.’” In the meantime, Baldwin is the largest employer in her city of Exmore, located on the Eastern Shore. She has been involved with the local Boys and Girls Club for the past 15 years, serving as president in the past, as well as chairing their largest annual fundraiser for years.

being a visionary, but I’m more detail-oriented and make sure we abide by the rules and regulations,” Boyer explains. When asked what makes a good leader, Boyer replies, “persistence, hard work, and always being willing to face challenges. You have to take care of your people and surround yourself with good people.” These traits are demonstrated throughout the history of DMG Federal, and can be seen through its numerous awards, including the Inc. 5000 List of Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America, as well as a Washington Technology Fast 50 Winner. Since 1995, the company has provided business intelligence consulting and train-

ing services to not only government agencies, but non-profits, private and public businesses throughout the United States. Boyer has been known to perform many roles in the office and takes an active role in knowing each employee by name and personally welcoming them during orientation. She has also been known to even brew coffee in the mornings on occasion. To her employees, she is approachable and helpful in the day-to-day activities. According to Boyer, creating this community feel in the workplace adds to the quality of each employee. “If someone has challenges and is willing to share, it’s an extended family, and I’ve always believed in that,” she explains. “There is no job I wouldn’t do, and I lead by example.” This philosophy extends past her professional life and into her daily routine. On the back of her car, one can find a license plate, exclaiming, “Live to be.” smallbusinessinsight.com

27


Insight

2011 SBI Minerva Award Honorees

Sylvia Estes

President, Pipeline & Industrial Group Virginia Beach Walk into Sylvia Estes’ office and you will know she feels at peace in her working environment. Warm earth tones, beloved pieces of antique furniture, photos of loved ones and a nice, comfortable sofa.

Creating a family atmosphere in the workplace, Estes leads by example, setting the energy and tone for her office. Viewing herself as a servant, her staff sees the vast amount of hours she spends at the office, and her staff will do the same when needed. “It’s not about the catastrophe, emergency or issue at hand,” Estes says. “It’s how you react to it. You can either make it big or small.” By exemplifying the traits she finds crucial to being a good leader – humility, respect of self and others, and passion – Estes has led Pipeline and Industrial Group to a successful construction and emergency response business. Estes also believes that women can bring unique qualities to running a business.

“Protecting the Health of Your Business”

    “ ”     ..                        

“We are mothers,” Estes explains. “I will protect my family. We are a team, and we take care of each other. But with that comes an understanding of respecting people because of who they are, not for gender or age.” Estes uses the size of her contracts to mark her growth. After founding the business in 2000, she remembers her first $1 million contract, then $5 million, then $10 million. Her goal has been to keep that momentum consistent. She was also able to purchase a 400+ acre plat of land in Fincastle, Va., to serve as a disaster relief facility that military bases can use to get back on the grid in case of a large catastrophe. Her company has experience in this already, after getting eight bases up and running after Hurricane Isabel. All in a day’s work for Estes. With a calm, collected approach towards business, the future looks bright for Pipeline. “I’m in a man’s world,” she says. “But, I do what I’m supposed to do. I don’t feel out of place because this is what I’m supposed to do. Have I ever had an issue being a woman (business owner)? Yes. Have I let it affect me? No.”

SMALL BUSINESSES ACCOUNT FOR 75% OF ALL NEW JOBS IN THIS COUNTRY . *

  Independent We Stand exists to support businesses like  yours. Take advantage of our FREE online business locator and  marketing materials, and reach the thousands of consumers  searching to “buy local.” 

TaylorMade Diagnostics offers many other services plus mobile support… we can bring our services to you!

    

 

www.IndependentWeStand.org * U.S. Chamber of Commerce – Small Business Nation

28 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011 STL_IWS_HRInsight_final.indd 1

3/10/11 5:21:40 PM


Audrey Brown and Suzanne Garcia

Jessica Gilden

A few years ago, Audrey Brown and Suzanne Garcia went out to lunch after being quite frustrated with business. Gas prices were up, business was slow and the two owners of Natural Elements Spa and Salon needed to vent to each other. “Then, we came up with this idea, and by the end of lunch, we had it all figured out,” Brown says. The idea was to close for business on Veteran’s Day and dedicate the day to the area’s veterans, providing free salon services – manicures, pedicures, massages, hair services and facials – for more than 200 vets in just one day. With the help of massage therapy and hair schools, the event was a success. They called it Operation Veteran Appreciation Day. “We were upset that day, and we turned it into something good,” Garcia explains. “The event was an unbelievably rewarding experience. There are no words.” The event made national news in the industry, ranking Top Promotion of 2010 in Day Spa Magazine. This illustration is one of the many reasons Brown and Garcia view their working relationship as a good marriage, working together to help build and grow not only a top-of-the-line spa and salon, but the only spa in Hampton Roads that is a Certified Academy by the National Certification board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork to be an education provider. “We have a very open and honest communication,” Brown explains. “There are great days, days that will take you to your knees and everything in between.” In addition to leaning on each other for help and guidance, the two women are also involved in women membership groups: The Noblewomen and the Southeastern Virginia chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). “NAWBO is a chance to be with other women and see things I’m about to go through,” Garcia explains. “It’s an extended family where I can see an outcome prior to having it.” On the agenda in the next few years for Garcia and Brown are to grow the salon and focus on its aesthetics. “We want our salon to be a spa-like experience,” Brown says.

Taking advantage of woman, minority and HUB-Zone setasides, Jessica Gilden has built a multi-million dollar success story after just seven years in business. Her business, Jessico, Inc., is a general contracting firm that also provides solutions in the areas of technology and multimedia programming. She does this by going to job sites regularly to support her team and enhance the relationship with clients by staying active and visible to the client. “The bulk of our work is government-related,” Gilden says. “I’ve learned to develop a stomach of steel, especially in a man’s field.” One of the ways she stays focused and encouraged in the workplace is her involvement with Women in Defense, which she attributes as a great organization to build relationships and stay connected with others in the government contracting realm. She is also on the board of directors for the YWCA, and involved in their fundraising projects for challenged families in Hampton Roads. “The YWCA does an excellent job in empowering women who constantly need that support, both personally and professionally,” Gilden says. Jessico built the first Green Roof on the Norfolk Naval Station under the command of Capt. Mary Jackson, the first woman captain of Norfolk Naval Station. Gilden also is very involved with the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, which provides college funds for the children whose parents died in military service. “Women are very intuitive,” Gilden says. “We feel things in the heart and in the mind. I’ve learned that if it’s in your heart, you have to go with it — and don’t worry about the ‘what if’s.’ Stay grounded.” She attributes most of her success to her strong business plan, which reinforces this mantra. This and her dedication to each job will lay the groundwork for completing her main goal in the next three years: to continue effectively growing her business.

Owners, Natural Elements Spa and Salon Chesapeake

President, Jessico Inc. Norfolk

smallbusinessinsight.com

29


Insight

2011 SBI Minerva Award Honorees

Catherine Giordano President, KIS, Inc. Virginia Beach

When asked to describe her role in the company, KIS president and CEO Catherine Giordano puts it simply: “maintaining an even keel and interacting with employees for their well being.” She explains that the associates who work

with KIS are a large part of the company’s success, and she tries to encourage a family environment where everyone takes care of each other. Clearly, this focus has proven successful for KIS, whose growth has gone from $9 million in 2001 to more than $41 million in 2009. KIS – short for Knowledge Information Solutions, Inc. – was founded in 1983, and provides IT services, support and security solutions for both government and commercial clients. When asked if being a woman business owner presents any unique challenges, Giordano agrees, stating that for women going toe-to-toe with men in the workplace, it is still a “good ole’ boys club.” “In my industry, it is a mostly level playing field. Technology is gender neutral,” Giordano explains. Even still, she notes that KIS has been able to be in the top 50 in the nation in VAR (Value-Added Resellers). “It’s a unique environment: you work hard to stand out enough,” Giordano ex-

plains. “In my industry, being a woman is a unique aspect in and of itself.” In addition to leading KIS to the next step of its success, Giordano is also a strong advocate for small businesses at all levels of government. In 2001, Giordano helped found Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) and testified before a House Subcommittee on behalf of small, minority and disadvantaged businesses. Giordano also meets with policy makers and Congressional leaders to discuss small business legislation and regulations from a small business owner’s perspective. This spirit of determination and forward thinking is not something she attributes to being a woman, rather one who is passionate about what she believes. “I don’t look at gender as a barrier. Barriers are what others use looking in,” she explains. “I refuse to believe that anyone who has something they are passionate about can have anything in their way. If they are relentless, they can succeed in anything.”

Available Products & Services:

to everyone who stands out in the crowd...

"#$%&'()&'*"#+ !

,-./0*#1%2&/34&%5/6*##1%+

30 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011

• • • • • • • •

VFD Applications Soft Starts Motor Control Electric Motors PLC/HMI Enclosed Controls Sensing Solutions Engineering Services

For more info contact

800-365-5214

www.jokell.com


Michella “Mia” Guinan

Cindy Hawks,

Running a business presents its own unique set of challenges. Perhaps the only thing more challenging is running a business while living in a different country. The Gourmet Gang’s owner, Mia Guinan, does just that. After starting and successfully running The Gourmet Gang since 1992, she moved to Germany after her husband was deployed there last year. Today, sandwiches and Skype go hand-in-hand as Guinan runs her business from six time zones away. “Technology has made it possible,” Guinan explains. “With the staff, we have a lot of longevity. Four out of five of our deli managers have been with the company for over 10 years, and that alone has been an instrumental factor.” What started as a door-to-door sandwich delivery business has now been transformed into a $4.8 million gourmet sandwich shop, with 30 percent of the business devoted to catering. Corporate headquarters are located in Norfolk, but The Gourmet Gang can be found in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake as well. “It is all about the people. You walk into the kitchen, and the interaction of people makes it fun,” Guinan explains. “I think it’s why those guys have been there for 10 years.” Part of Guinan’s management philosophy is to manage where the employees are at a certain point in time, and realizing the ebb and flow of each employee. At the beginning of each year, every employee is asked for his or her “Top 10”: a list of what they want to do in the business or otherwise and where they would like to see the business go in the coming year. Throughout the year, Guinan incorporates each employee’s “Top 10” into her decision making. When asked about challenges that she faces, she mentioned the daily routines of being a mother and running a business. “It’s a tug-of-war with how much time you can devote to your children. I tend to do my work around everyone else’s schedules,” she says. “I don’t want to have to choose. I want to do it all!” Still, Guinan reflects on a quote by Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never give up.” “Despite all things, you just keep pushing,” Guinan explains. “Whether that’s been good or bad, you never know. That is not just a quote, but a frame of mind. It’s simply not an option to give up.”

With the housing market as volatile as it has been in the past few years, most may wonder how real estate agents fare the hard times. “Even in a bad economy, people are buying and selling their homes,” says principal broker Cindy Hawks of Keller Williams. “The number of people has remained the same.” The only thing that has changed is how Hawks prepares her agents for this market, focusing on lead generation and how each agent can grow his or her business to power through this shift. To achieve these means, Hawks has hired a master coach that teaches a class each Monday morning to get the agents’ week started and focused. Her office houses a training room that seats 55 people and, every day of the week, topics of professional and personal development are covered. Hawks believes that as her agents become better people, they become better real estate professionals and better business owners themselves. To Hawks, making each employee a stakeholder in the business is a crucial step in setting up her business. Everyone has a say in how policy and procedure are put into place. “This way, agents aren’t competing with other agents, and this allows us to have our fingers on the pulse in the market,” Hawks says. “If they grow, we grow.” This method seems to work well for Hawks, as she has increased profitability each year for the past four years, and has grown her business to a $3 million franchise in just 5 years. As an owner, she feels that one of the hardest things a leader can do is to offer compassion. “Women have a natural talent to be compassionate, and to listen,” Hawks says. “You also have to decide what’s more important: the money you make or who you are in business with. If you work well with those around you, the money will come.” These bits of advice will continue to come from Hawks as she empowers her agents to continue powering through the hard times. “We’re here, we’re not going anywhere, and there’s plenty of pie for everyone,” Hawks says.

Owner, The Gourmet Gang Norfolk

Owner, Keller Williams on Laskin Road Virginia Beach

smallbusinessinsight.com

31


Suzy Kelly

Dasha Little

You can’t drive past Jo-Kell and not know it is a woman-owned business — The logo bears “A Woman-Owned Business,” right on the front of the building facing the street. “Electrical distribution is a male-dominated industry,” Kelly explains. “For contractual reasons, it’s helpful for customers to know we are woman owned.” For the past 33 years, Kelly has led Jo-Kell to record growth, which currently ranks #4741 on the Inc. List of Fastest-Growing Privately Held Companies in America. With a three-year growth of 11 percent and a 2009 revenue of $32.4 million, Jo-Kell shows no signs of slowing. Kelly attributes her success as a leader to principles that guide her everyday life. “Having strong moral and ethical principles and applying them to the business life is important to me, and it’s important that others are likeminded,” Kelly explains. The executive leadership of Jo-Kell, headed by Kelly, believes that giving back to the community is a corporate responsibility. To the team at Jo-Kell, the traits of a strong community encompass a group of people who work successfully towards a common goal. Thus, many employees have celebrated five, 10 and 20-year anniversaries with the company. In the area of community outreach, the employees of Jo-Kell collected over two tons of food for the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia in October 2010, raised several thousand dollars for the St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children and raised $3,038 for the Special Olympics of Virginia Polar Plunge. “It’s just part of who we are. We don’t have to think about it,” Kelly explains. “When there is someone who needs something, someone here just comes forward. It’s second nature.” Kelly also serves on the Chesapeake City Council, where she advocates for small business owners in the area. She remarks that her role as a small business owner and knowing how to run a business have helped her serve in the public capacity.

When one takes a ride on a roller coaster, the inevitable slow climb to the highest point of the tallest arch often sends feelings of apprehension to the coaster passengers. Then, each car reaches the very top. “This the pause where you realize what’s going on, and you look at everything before you move with direction and attention,” explains Apogee Solutions CEO Dasha Little. This metaphor is used by Little to explain the quality services that her team provides, and how that service exceeds her customers’ expectations. Apogee Solutions offers support for military training and exercise, space operations, disability management and program management. When asked to explain her role in the company, Little describes herself as the encourager. “Everyone tells me I’m the hugger-in-charge,” Little says. “I also see the big picture. I’m a dreamer and a visionary and always look for probabilities.” Her vision of Apogee began when she was a sole proprietor, and continued as she transferred those skills to a federal market. For two years, Little worked with no pay and spent that time conducting market research and networking. Now, she has grown the business to its current 53 employees and $7 million in revenue. Little is the prime on jobs that, in the beginning, she pitched to be considered as a sub on their team. “I’m excited about things we can expect in the future,” Little explains. “Technology and IT is a big thing. The most healing thing is a touch and a kind word, and we strive to bring humanity into our technical world.” Little is also a member of the Greater Hampton Roads chapter of Women in Defense, and commends the group for providing a strong support system. “You can’t have a wide circle of mentors or confidantes, but you can have a circle, and I think that’s the beauty of Women in Defense.”

CEO, Jo-Kell Chesapeake

32 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011

CEO, Apogee Solutions Chesapeake


Judy Lowman Owner, The Source Hampton

Every employee of The Source knows Judy Lowman’s “small pile theory.” “Basically what it means is that I know that projects, goals and classes you take can seem so huge, and you think to yourself,

‘I have to climb that mountain,’” she explains. “But when you break it down into pieces and make it into small piles, things seem much more manageable.” This is a small illustration of the leadership style Lowman brings to the company. Instead of having a staff of “yes people,” Lowman says everyone is encouraged to bring their ideas to the table to offer a better service to the customer. She attributes not having to lay anyone off in the last two years as a testament to how she values employees, as well as the understanding of her staff that she is committed to keeping them all employed. The Source specializes in the galley and laundry services of ship repair. Simply

put, Lowman says “we work to be more cognizant of making ship life as pleasant as possible.” Lowman built her business from one simple ice machine repair to another, and now the business comes highly recommended when any work involves galleys and refrigeration on ships. “I’m hands on,” Lowman says. “I evaluate and do the final estimates and planning on every job. I run quality assurance and do checkpoints myself,” Lowman says. Lowman reflects that women have come a long way in her industry and are reaching the point of being truly accepted. “At the beginning of the business, if I could tell I was working with a chauvinist, I’d send a man out to close the deal,” she explains. “These days, the tone has changed, and women are treated with much more respect.” In fact, one of the takeaways customers have from The Source is that all management positions are held by women who have a long history together and regard each other as family.


Insight

2011 SBI Minerva Award Honorees

Hazel Mariano

Owner, Rainbow Station at Virginia Beach Virginia Beach Hazel Mariano’s background as a pediatric nurse practitioner played a large role in her opening Rainbow Station at Virginia Beach. This preschool and child care facility is equipped with a Get Well Place, where mildly ill children can receive care and supervision while parents can continue with their daily routines. “This really hooked me,” Mariano says. “There are a lot of things you can’t send children to school for, and this helps in that.” Since opening the school in 2007, enrollment has increased each year, and the length of stay of each family is also a strength of business. Twenty percent of the total population of families who attend the school have been there since its opening. Her definition of success comes in the form of a question: “Do you ever know (what success means)?” “Success means you are always striving for a goal, and I’m a work in progress,” she

explains. “I am always striving.” Much time and energy has been poured into marketing the Get Well Place in local news outlets and even in Parents Magazine. Mariano has also signed a contract with Geico for their employee usage. When asked what qualities women business owners bring to running a business, Mariano says that women may have a more nurturing approach. “It’s not always black and white,” Mariano explains. “We bring more empathy to staff issues.” She also says that by being a woman and a mother, parents have an easy time discussing their children and any issues that may come up. To Mariano, every day is a testament to hard work and being confident in her skills and the dedication of her staff. “You have to believe that your business is what you want to do,” Mariano says. “When you believe in it strongly, go for it.”

folks in this business owners have to have a good support system can run a business to be successful.” and not understand Prophet’s support system includes being the technical side of a member of Executive Women Internait,” Prophet explains. tional. “If my employees are “If women stopped worrying about each out on a job, I will other and came together, we’d dominate,” work right alongside Prophet explains. “We work so hard, we them. I honestly care almost push back.” about every customer She recalls hearing other women busiand member of my ness owners make remarks of “work hard team.” and pay your dues like I did,” and forgo Alongside running a growing IT sup- providing help to one another in times Jeri Prophet port and web design company, Prophet of need. However, Prophet explains that President, IntellecTechs offers a free computer training class open women can finally get to a place to help Virginia Beach to the public every Tuesday morning. She other women achieve and reach higher also developed a website (www.virgini- places in business, and that she strives to In the past two years, IntellecTechs has aveterans.com) free to veterans that is a do so when she gets the opportunity. grown from one to 20 employees and from wizard-driven resume builder, and allows “There are not a lot of us out there, but 12 to 200 clients. President Jeri Prophet employers the opportunity to post job op- you never know when they might get their achieves this growth by creating a strong portunities for free. big break and they are your teammate for corporate culture and providing unparalWhen asked if being a woman business life,” Prophet says. leled customer service. owner is a challenging experience, she re“I am technical, and I don’t know how sponded, “It’s hard work. Women business

34 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011


Chantel Ray

Carrie Setliff

Chantel Ray refers to herself as the “master delegator.” “It’s one thing I’m really passionate about,” Ray says. “Some business owners don’t know how to delegate and try to do everything themselves.” Ray says this comes from the idea that the owner may have that he or she can do the job better. Instead of harboring this attitude, she trains others to do certain tasks and says that they can do the job just as well, or even better. “I focus on the whole, big pie. Everything that I don’t have to do myself, I delegate — cleaning, laundry, etc. — and I only do what I’m really good at doing,” Ray says. Those things, she says, include leading, managing, marketing and creating incentives to motivate her 26-member team. By conducting personality testing to make sure she puts her employees in positions that use their strengths, she is sure that her employees are doing what they love. This process has proven quite successful, as she has seen 30 percent consistent revenue growth for the past six years. Ray also has detailed systems for every job description and is dedicated to: being flexible to change with what the times demand, staying committed to re-invest in her marketing and advertising, and giving back 23 percent of this year’s revenue. Each year she hopes to increase the amount she gives back by 3 percent until she is giving away 90 percent of her income and living on 10 percent. In her business plan, this will happen when she is 56. This year, she will donate 23 percent of her income to the People In Need (PIN) Ministry. “I truly love every part of my job, and if I don’t love it, I delegate. That’s what makes a strong leader,” Ray says. “You can never delegate too much, as long as you are delegating to the right person.”

Since opening the doors in 2006, Carrie Setliff has seen sales double each year. She and her staff bring more than 85 years of knowledge and experience to the table, and provide customers with furniture and design solutions for the workplace. Setliff creates a high level of morale and dedication for her staff three ways: a team approach, an open door policy and constant communication. “We have a very positive working environment,” Setliff explains. “We take conceptual ideas and bring them to reality. There is a lot of listening.” On the differences between men and women in the leadership realm, Setliff remarks that fortunately for women, they are more detail-oriented. This is fortunate because Image Business Interiors has a mostly female employee base. “It is still a man’s world,” Setliff explains. “However, women are making great strides.” One of the way Setliff accomplishes this for her business is by being SWaM certified, which has helped secure contracts for business. “We are part of the elite force of women in the area that can help grow other women-owned businesses in the area,” Setliff says. “My love is to see other businesses grow.” By taking advantage of mentors’ help along the way, and being a mentor herself, Setliff has helped grow her business from $700,000 to more than $7 million in 4.5 years. Qualities she says help build a good leader include discipline, desire and coaching capabilities. In addition to managing a successful company, the team at Image Business Interiors participates in events to build the community around them. In 2010, Setliff and her team worked as team leaders on The St. Mary, the charity house at the Tidewater Builders Association Homearama last fall. Net proceeds from the sale of the house will benefit the children and young adults of St. Mary’s Home.

Owner, Chantel Ray Real Estate Group Virginia Beach

Managing Partner, Image Business Interiors Virginia Beach

smallbusinessinsight.com

35


Insight

2011 SBI Minerva Award Honorees

Doña Storey

President, Quality Technical Services, Inc. President, GovTips, LLC Virginia Beach

Doña Storey presents a standing challenge: Put anything in front of her, and she can find out where the government bought it. Her company, Quality Technical Services, Inc., has managed the supply chain from items ranging from lipstick, to office chairs and bombs. Founded in 1980, Quality Technical Services offers a complete range of services to assist clients through the total change management process. This includes design, master planning and strategic consulting with each client. After 30 years of managing her business, Storey has now begun work on GovTips, LLC, a federal contracting consulting entity. “As people helped me over the years, I kept writing down the advice,” Storey explains. Through books, webinars, workshops and conferences, Storey now offers the same learning experiences she learned while growing her business to other businesses across the country. “There are hundreds of consultants who will sell all sorts of services for lots of money,” Storey says. “When I did background checks on some, there was no one like me. I had actually done what

Tracy Colby Urig

William G. Colby

everyone was talking about.” She considers her writing and GovTips her retirement. Her goal is to provide free and low-cost information to companies that want to run successful government contracting businesses.When asked about the different qualities women can bring to running a business, it’s all about the ability to juggle. “When I talk with other women, they always agree. Women are just better multitaskers,” Storey explains. “Men can’t compete.” Storey also states that women, particularly mothers, tend to have entrepreneurial, innovative ideas. However, she stresses that this is not, in her opinion, gender specific. “A human brain is a human brain,” she explains. “Men and women are no more creative than each other. It’s not that one can’t be creative, it’s just that some struggle with it more.” Storey’s father plays a large role in her confidence. His strong work ethic led him to become a millionaire by age 32. “He taught me: ‘Be who you are! They will respect you,’” she explains. “This is America, so I get to be who I want to be.”

Roger L. Porter, Jr.

Building Your Business is Our Business. 757 523–2700 2121 Old Greenbrier Road, Chesapeake, VA 23320 36 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011


Caroline Taylor

Jody Wagner

Before making it to her office each morning, Caroline Taylor, says good morning to each person in her clinic. “There is a balance when you own your own business,” Taylor says. “You can’t do it without the love and support of people who make your business work everyday.” Before she decided to open her own full-service occupational healthcare facility in 1995, she was a nurse herself. This leaves no stone unturned in servicing the more than 1,200 local businesses in the Hampton Roads area. Providing top-of-the-line occupational services, Taylor’s team of 16 provides everything a small business needs to be OSHA compliant as well as consulting, wellness, clinical and training programs to give employers superior healthcare for their employees. The mix of clients breaks down to about 80 percent commercial, and 20 percent state and federal. “I have the best employees in all of Hampton Roads,” Taylor says, reflecting on some who have been with her for more than 14 years. In terms of company growth, Taylor and her team have developed a medical software system that her company and their clients use to manage their government healthcare requirements. In the past year, revenue growth has been 30 percent. “We keep our finger on the pulse of growth,” Taylor says. “I look at the support my employees need to keep customer service at the highest level. We monitor surveys twice a day and celebrate victories.” Outside of work, Taylor involves herself extensively the community around her, recently accepting the position of president of the South Norfolk Civic League. She is also involved in women’s groups such as Women In Defense of Greater Hampton Roads and the Executive Women International, expressing that these groups help support and recognize capabilities and talents in other women. “When you get to a level of professionalism, you’re looking to support other women-owned businesses and give back, so you can be that person they can turn to,” Taylor says.

We’ve all heard the adage: “If at first you don’t succeed, try again.” If you are Jody Wagner, you try 53 times until you get the perfect recipe for ideal caramel corn. Today, one of her best-selling popcorn flavors is Recipe 53. The journey to Recipe 53 began when she and her husband went to their son’s graduation from Northwestern University. Both Northwestern alums, the two recalled a caramel corn shop located around campus and stopped in for a visit. Jody Wagner then asked the question, “What’s wrong with Virginia Beach? We need something like this here!” “My husband looked at me and said, ‘If you feel that strongly about it, then why don’t you do something about it?’” Wagner remembers. “So, I did!” Wagner now has a storefront location at Virginia Beach Oceanfront, as well as an 8,000 square-foot facility where popcorn is prepared to ship all over the country. Her popcorn is also on sale at a growing number of retailers, such as Farm Fresh and Ukrops. One of her favorite pastimes in owning the business is becoming a part of beach memories, and seeing repeat customers bring popcorn tins purchased in the store back for refills. When asked about the challenges that women business owners may face, Wagner explains, “When a woman owns a business, it’s considered a hobby – especially in the food industry.” She challenges this stereotype by consistently coming up with new ideas and adding to her inventory. She shows no signs of slowing down, either. In the upcoming three years, Wagner hopes to continue filling out her line of college popcorn, and tap into the wedding and corporate clients market. To handle this output, she plans to hire a director of operations and have enough work to require three shifts, increasing her ability to provide more jobs. Regardless of how much the business grows, Wagner reflects on a time when corn syrup used for the caramel corn was purchased in one-gallon jars. “Now it is purchased in 55-gallon drums!” she exclaims.

President, Taylor Made Diagnostics Chesapeake

Owner, Jody’s Popcorn Virginia Beach

smallbusinessinsight.com

37


Insight

Minerva Honorees

Help is just a click away Certified Technicians $65/Hour* ! No Long Term Contract ! Guaranteed Emergency Service Within 4‐hours  ! Professional Training ! On‐Call 24/7 Support ! Server/Desktop Monitoring Free !"#$%&$%"'()*+*,-%./0+ ! System Upgrades and Networking !                Systems Custom Built  ! Same Day Hardware Repair on Servers/Desktops !"#01*.2"3$(*.".+("4+-$%+$-"3.%5$/+6 ! Website Design and Development !"7%$$"80062$"'+.29/1," !"#$.%1:";+6*+$"<=/)*>./0+ ®

www.intellectechs.com T r a ini ng ! N etworking ! S EO H os ting ! Secu rity ! Web Des ign

Congratulations Jeri Prophet 2011 SBI Minerva Award Winner

195 South Rosemont Rd, St. 103 Virginia Beach, VA 23452 * Contract Clients (NO retainer or Monthly Minimum) 38 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011

Dory Wilgus

President, US Flag and Signal Portsmouth Dory Wilgus entered the workforce at 16 years old as a sewing machine operator in a shoe company. She then became a machine operator for US Flag & Signal 32 years ago, and later purchased the company in 1998 with a business partner. As president of the business, her employees know that she has been where they are now, and she’s truly built the business from the ground up. One lesson learned by Wilgus is realizing that one person doesn’t know everything. “You won’t know it all, but surround yourself with those who do,” Wilgus explains. Of those people, she mentions her business partner who handles the finances, the creativity and talent of her employees and fellow members of NAWBO. Since buying the company, sales have increased dramatically and the number of employees has doubled. In 2005, Wilgus moved the company from a 9,000 square-foot facility in Virginia Beach to a 22,000 square-foot facility in Portsmouth. Wilgus and her team continue to service all branches of the military and have a strong local presence through contracts with local universities. They have also provided flags for Busch Gardens for the past 26 years. The business shows no sign of slowing, either. After recently hiring a web designer, Wilgus hopes to increase online presence and expand marketing reach. “You have to be able to adapt and invest in technology, and you have to stay updated,” Wilgus explains. “You also have to help promote your employees and they promote you.” While Wilgus states that there aren’t many challenges associated with being a woman business owner today, she remembers a time when it was slightly more difficult. “The first time signing my name as a business owner, they wanted my husbands’s name,” Wilgus reflects. “Also, when you go to conferences, there are many men. I’m treated differently until they realize I’m not the director of marketing or there on behalf of anyone else.” If there’s one piece of advice Wilgus is quick to pass along, it is a simple one: “Don’t forget where you came from. Appreciate the people that helped you get here.”


From paper clips to battleships, Vanwin Coatings can paint and coat items of any size. Walk into the office of Vanwin Coatings in Chesapeake and you will see photos of the many items that have been coated by the company, ranging from the gates of the White House, a mock-up Apollo spacecraft for NASA, handrails for family resorts in Williamsburg and many Navy and Coast Guard Ships. While Whitham may not meet very many women in her industry, she still believes in the value that great leaders can bring to the workplace, regardless of sex. “You have to rely on the vision of the company, and put great people around you,” Whitham explains. “I invest in those people, because they can only advance as much as you allow them to. I really want to grow my employees.” As president of the Southeastern Virginia chapter of the National Association

Jennifer Whitham CEO, Vanwin Coatings Chesapeake

R ACK A

PROFESSIONAL

of Women Business Owners, or NAWBO, Whitham has had the opportunity to share her story with other women groups, including the Girl Scouts. “I’ve been asked back five or six times,” Whitham says. While presenting her business as one that most would consider nontraditional for a woman, the young girls are often captivated by her story of a once 14year CPA turned business owner, and how it was worth the risk. She also mentions to the Girl Scouts that owning a business can mean working outside of what may be expected. “You can also wear steel-toed boots and work hard every day,” Whitham says. Despite the difficult economy, Vanwin Coatings has experience a substantial increase in business in 2010 over 2009. The company has grown from 25 to 40 employees in 2010, which Whitham attributes to their quality of work and its value in the coatings industry.

OL A N S E N LAW

C O R P O R AT I O N

Providing legal and tax counsel to small business owners as a

New Member of the SBI Owners Council KEVIN B. RACK, J.D., LL.M. [TAXATION] NATHAN R. OALNSEN, J.D., CPA, LL.M. [TAXATION] FLORA T. HEZEL, J.D., LL.M. [TAXATION] JENNIFER L. MOCCIA, J.D., LL.M. [ESTATE PLANNING] NICOLE D. MORRIS, ESQ. OF COUNSEL MICHELLE REDAVID RACK, ESQ. SPECIALIZING IN ESTATES AND TRUSTS, FIDUCIARY SERVICES, ELDER LAW, TAXATION AND CHARITABLE ENTITIES

W W W. R A C K L AW. C O M 249 Central Park Avenue | Suite 220 | Virginia Beach, VA 23462 757 . 605 . 5000 | 757 . 605 . 5020

smallbusinessinsight.com

39


From left, Judy Fox of Consumer Recovery Associates, Rob Goodman of Kaufman & Canoles, Jodi Blaschum of Consumer Recovery Associates and Suzanne Waterfield of BB&T.

Chuck Schue, president of UrsaNav

The SBI Owners Council is off to an exceptional start this year. The featured speaker of the January luncheon was Paul DiNardo of Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer, who spoke about the 2011 changes to tax code, and some exemptions business owners may find useful. In February, Chuck Schue, president of UrsaNav spoke about the unique challenges of accelerated business growth, and how heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s navigated his business through obstacles along the way. On March 17, SBI Owners Council members and prospective members participated in a panel discussion on succession planning strategies, which was the first quarterly symposium of the year. For more information about this exclusive membership organization, visit www.smallbusinessinsight.com/sbi-owners-council.

Nathan Olansen, partner at Rack & Olansen Law

Art Radtke, publisher of Small Business Insight

40 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011

Paul DiNardo, shareholder at Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer, PC


computer repair

ACCOUNTING

phone services

www.geeksoncall.com 757.802.4955 www.wec-cpa.com 757.533.4100

ATTORNEYS

corporate meetings

www.dinglevoice.com 757.644.333

www.cinemacafe.com 757.523.7469 www.racklaw.com 757.605.5000

www.oncalltelecom.com 757.802.4955

information technology

banks

Additional Info www.marathonus.com 757.427.6999

marketing services www.townebank.com Portsmouth 638.7500 Peninsula 249.7800 Virginia Beach 412.2400 Suffolk 392.3400

Chesapeake 548.7200 Williamsburg 564.4700 Norfolk 628.6340 Moyock 252.435.6331

www.progressivegraphics.com 757.368.3321

Learn more about the SBI Buy Local Initiative online at smallbusinessinsight.com/local

www.paulchinjr.com paulchinjr@gmail.com | 757.630.2183

Commercial, Event & Por trait Photography


Community

Sinclair Communications

More than just noise Lisa Sinclair explains how radio has evolved over time, and still remains a viable, growing medium.

42 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011

Sinclair Communications general manager Lisa Sinclair.


By T. J. Prieur Photo by Paul Chin, Jr. Lisa Sinclair has seen many changes in the radio broadcasting industry over the past 40 years. In the mid-70s, Sinclair was putting the finishing touches on an advertising degree from Michigan State. Upon graduation, she decided to move to Ann Arbor, Mich., to search for work in an advertising agency. “Luckily, I didn’t get hired at any,” she explains. “They weren’t hiring anyone who didn’t have experience.” She then focused her attention on a radio station around the corner. From there, she was interviewed and hired by Bob Sinclair and began working as a copywriter for six months, then went into sales, which is what she wanted to do. As she continued to refine her skills, opportunities later emerged in the Hampton Roads area, which relocated the two here in the late ‘70s. Today, Lisa Sinclair is the co-owner of five local radio stations, including: WNIS, WTIR, BOB FM , US-106, and 96X. After selling advertising for Sinclair Communications for about 20 years, she took the role of general manager of the company in 2000. “Radio has changed over the years. We used to sell just advertising and now, we sell commercials websites and events,” she says. “Also, small businesses are very important to us. One of the things we do with our AM stations is an ‘ask the experts’ series.” In these programs, small business owners can come on the air and speak about their businesses and offer advice to people with problems. Sinclair explains that this not only helps the owner get exposure, but listeners then view the owner as an expert. “Radio is so effective because it is the spoken word, and the audience is a direct target on who you want to reach,” she says. Because people hear commercials as information, Sinclair compares radio advertising to Internet advertising, where YouTube commercials may not reflect the needs or wants of viewers and aren’t targeting the right people. She also comments on the anxieties surrounding advertising dollars spent in different media, but feels confident in the future of radio advertising. “Radio has as many listeners as ever, if not more. My worries are with iPods, but I think as people get older, they aren’t going to download music as much as they did in their early 20s,” Sinclair explains. “They will continue to listen to the radio. That’s how you find out what’s going on in your community.” In addition to owning the five stations in Hampton Roads, Sinclair Communications also owns six in Austin, Texas, and four stations in Santa Rosa, Calif. Some of the attributes Sinclair gives to the success of the company include how well management treats employees. “We’re flexible and very family oriented,” she says. “If you can get your job done and you would rather come in earlier to leave earlier, then do it. We’re a close-knit group and there’s cohesiveness among employees. Beyond coworkers, we’re friends.” She also commented that over the years, eight to 10 newborn babies have spent the first year of their lives at work with their parents. This enhances the family atmosphere, she says. Future plans for the company include continuing to grow and enrich the community around it. “Radio’s not going away. When TV was invented, they said ‘Radio is dead.’ Well, guess what? It didn’t die. It’s still a strong and viable medium and it will continue to be. It tells you what connection to community,” Sinclair says. “We’re on top of things here. We know what’s going on.”

“Radio is so effective because it is the spoken word, and the audience is a direct target on who you want to reach.”

Upcoming SBI Owners Council Monthly Luncheons Tuesday · April 26 Speaker : Glenn Davis CEO, On Call Holdings Tuesday · May 24 Speaker : Joseph Takach Independent We Stand Tuesday · June 28 Speaker : TBA Tuesday · July 26 Speaker : TBA All Luncheons are* from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Town Center City Club, Virginia Beach OC events are exclusive to its members and those who apply for membership. For more information, e-mail: sbiownerscouncilhr@gmail.com unless otherwise announced or noted.

*


Community

Hudson Luxury Building Boutique

Nicole and Jonathan Hudson in the Hudson Luxury Building Boutique showroom.

Over-the-top luxury.

Same family name —

W

Story by T. J. Prieur | Photos by Paul Chin, Jr.

44

hile working with his father at Hudson Building Supply Company in Virginia Beach, Jonathan Hudson found himself naturally enjoying the residential side of business. “It’s about having more of a relationship, working with the homeowner,” he says. “In commercial work, you are working with a contractor, which is still relationshipbased, but with the residential side, you are working with someone who is really excited about the project.” So as he began growing the residential side of Hudson Building Supply, he focused on windows, doors and hardware. In 2002, Jonathan and his father Small Business Insight | March/April 2011


It

“ ’s about having more of a relationship, working with the homeowner,” he says. “In commercial work, you are working with a contractor, which is still relationship-based, but with the residential side, you are working with someone who is really excited about the project.” were approached by a company who sold doors as well as kitchen cabinets. “They asked us if we wanted to get into cabinets,” Jonathan says. “I told them absolutely not.” He lightheartedly explains that the world of cabinets was uncharted territory for the business, and that neither he or nor his father knew much about the product. However, before he knew it, he says, he was on a company jet visiting with the company representatives and being walked through the different lines they carry. “They were very involved with us, walking us through everything,” Jonathan says. So Jonathan and his father decided to slowly start integrating cabinets into their inventory. Jonathan only let a small group of builders and architects know they were selling cabinets, and the first 10 kitchens his company did, he was on the site right alongside the builders. “I needed to learn about these things — how they went in, how they worked,” Jonathan says. In 2007, Jonathan went to his father and said he was ready to take these projects to a new level. His father explained to him that he wasn’t as interested in this venture as Jonathan, and if he wanted to continue, it would be solely on Jonathan’s efforts. While realizing that the Hudson name carries a strong reputation for quality, but

not necessarily wanting to convey the image of building materials of drywall, hammers and nails, he realized that be needed to create a company separate of Hudson Building Supply. Carefully selecting the right words for the name of the business, Jonathan and his wife Nicole created Hudson Luxury Building Boutique, a new store showcasing high-end home products such as cabinetry, hardware, mouldings and more. Jonathan and Nicole cater to a new market of buyers, where the customer knows exactly what they want, and money is not an option. “You have to go about it a differently,” Jonathan explains. “Clientele is the woman (most of the time) and they aren’t wanting to visualize a building supply place. The heart of the home is the kitchen.” Jonathan and his team have five main areas of focus: windows, doors, hardware, moldings and cabinets. What sets his business apart is taking the same level of professionalism of cabinets and designs and applying that to the other four areas he focuses on, which, he explains, has never been done. “As we apply that across the board,” Nicole says. “The real big hope here is when people come in, we go over the top. We serve fresh-pressed coffee and focus on the welcoming experience. We know this is a major decision for you, and we’re here to

help you through the process.” Although the words “luxury” and “boutique” help distinguish the business, Nicole and Jonathan have found that sometimes the words might convey conflicting ideals. High-end items may not necessarily carry a price tag that reflects this trait, especially at Hudson Luxury Building Boutique. “It’s the word ‘luxury,’ which we love because it sets us apart,” Nicole explains, “but we had a couple come in and shop us against a big-box store for hardware, and we had no idea. We beat their price by $500 with a better product. I think we have some people afraid to come talk to us because we are high-end.” The Hudsons explain that their products are priced very competitive with mid-range prices, and they have been known to beat online and other local stores’ prices. Moving forward, Jonathan has one clear goal for the business: to transform the way people feel about shopping for building supplies. “I feel like they are a commodity — something you have to have,” Jonathan explains. “Everyone gets excited about new watches, clothes, iPads and cars. When you walk through a door everyday, you grab the handle and interact with it. That door can bring you a little bit of joy every day because you picked it out and really enjoy it.” smallbusinessinsight.com

45


Community

Tycon Medical

Hands-on service How one owner is revolutionizing the way relationships are managed in the home medical equipment industry. Charles Trapani, owner of Tycon Medical.

46 Small Business Insight | March/April 2011


By T. J. Prieur Photo by Paul Chin, Jr.

It’s been said that most good ideas are born from necessity.

The origins of Tycon Medical are no different. President Charlie Trapani had been in medical equipment sales since 1992. Before too long, he developed a good clientele base. “They would ask me where to get certain products,” Trapani says. “I would recommend them to someone and, inevitably, that person would screw it up and my referral source would say ‘Why did you refer me to them?’” This started spinning Trapani’s wheels. With a background in management training where he managed 40-50 people, he felt confident that management wasn’t as difficult as he thought it would be. “I thought, ‘Why do it for someone else? I can start my own business,” Trapani says. In 1994, Tycon Medical, an independently owned and operated home medical equipment company, was founded. Tycon, named after Trapani’s two sons, Tyler and Connor, specializes in rehabilitation, orthotics, wound care therapy, respiratory equipment and specialty medical products. “We don’t just carry the products, though. I do more consulting,” Trapani explains. “I help people age in their home.” He says that most people think they have a good idea of what aging in their home entails but he points out many subtleties that people may not be aware of. Some of these include a walk-in shower, but not considering 6-inch steps or measuring doors for wheelchair access elsewhere in the home. “I’m constantly problem solving. I always ask ‘What difficulties are you having?’” he says. He then listens to issues of difficulties getting out of seats, becoming short-winded when climbing stairs and having issues sleeping. Only after knowing what the real issues are does he then begin figuring out what products may be needed. “It’s a truly rewarding field to be in,” he says. Trapani explains that Tycon Medical is a niche provider, and he is contacted by many referrals from past customers. By offering a unique form of service, he differentiates himself from other local vendors in the area. Today, Tycon is staffed with approximately 30 people, complete with licensed professionals including therapists and assisted technology professionals. With national competition of The Scooter Store and other motorized wheelchair companies with attractive sales pitches, Trapani counters with the quality of products he provides. He explains that when people order wheelchairs from him, they may not be the cheapest, but they will be the best. He makes each order as if he’s ordering for his own family members, and his customers appreciate and recommend him for this. “We’ve grown substantially in what I call my cult following of technicians and people that know Charlie will get it done,” Trapani says. For the future, Trapani looks to continue growing his business, as well as reaching more into the direct customer market and expanding Internet-based referrals and sales. He attributes his success as a small business owner to a network of qualified individuals whom he consistently references for support. “Two years ago I announced in a meeting that I had to fire somebody,” he says. “Everyone looked around, and then I said ‘The good news is, I’ve fired myself, and rehired myself as the sales manager.” At that point, he introduced Chris Smythe as the vice president of business, allowing Trapani to focus more on marketing his business more. “The best part is that at some point, you will become successful when you trust your own instincts,” he says. “If I can do that, I know it will work.”

“The best part is that at some point, you will become successful when you trust your own instincts.”

small business insight

YO U N G G U N S 2011 business awards

Know any successful small business owners 40 years or younger in Hampton Roads?

Nominate them for

The 2011 SBI Young Guns Awards as we celebrate the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Nominations can be sent to info@smallbusinessinsight.com For more information visit smallbusinessinsight.com/ sbi-young-guns

smallbusinessinsight.com

47



Small Business Insight of Hampton Roads