Retail Trade

Transducer USA

Jozef Gluszyk had overcome many challenges in his life—emigrating from Poland, learning a new language and culture, and tenaciously working his way into a career with an engineering company that served the petrochemical industry. But in 1998, he faced a difficult decision with few easy answers.

Owner/Founder
Jozef Gluszyk
My Location
Houston TX
United States
Year Company Formed
2000
My Successes

Gluszyk’s employer had not followed through on an eight-year-old promise to reward his many contributions with an ownership stake in the company. Starting his own business was a possibility, but money was scarce. Gluszyk also faced a number of potential legal hurdles regarding patent ownership.

“I needed sound advice about my options, but time and money were running out,” he recalls. “My lawyer recommended that I contact SCORE, as they offered business mentoring and other services for no charge.”

Unable to resolve issues with his employer, Gluszyk decided his only recourse was to walk away and start anew. He located some willing investors and, in 2000, started US GlobeTech. The company would combine Gluszyk’s experience in the energy business, and his knowledge of Polish and Russian to market equipment to Eastern Europe’s emerging energy-sector markets.

Gluszyk also envisioned US GlobeTech as a parent company for other ventures, one of which was based on his work with the measurement of industrial liquids. He had developed an idea for a SONAR-based transducer capable of measuring the interface of disparate liquids in various energy and chemical processes. However, his idea was based on some of the work done for his former employer.

“The patents were in my name, but the company was the actual owner,” Gluszyk explains. “I had to be sure there would be no legal complications if I proceed with my idea for the next generation in technology.”

SCORE referred Gluszyk to a patent lawyer who determined that there would be no conflict with the existing patents. That led to the formation of Transducer USA in 2001. Since then, Gluszyk has worked with several major companies to evaluate test units, and recently received industry-wide certification for his product. He’s now working to pursue sales with major oil companies while also developing other products driven by environmental needs.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Gluszyk’s matched with volunteer mentor Howard Hurst. “Howard and other mentors helped me evaluate my options and, more importantly, understand the potential pitfalls associated with each one,” Gluszyk says. “They also provided other resources to help me make informed decisions.”

Although Hurst has since retired from his involvement with SCORE, Gluszyk keeps in touch with his former mentor and the other small business experts who helped him turn a workplace dilemma into two promising enterprises.

How SCORE Helped

“I greatly appreciate everything SCORE did for me,” he says. “They are a great resource for people who need advice. Perhaps in the future, I will be able to join SCORE and provide guidance to a new generation of entrepreneurs.”

SCORE Mentors Hartel Corporation

Not all SCORE mentor-client relationships have the staying power and friendship that SCORE mentor John R. Thomson and Doug Hartel have developed over the six years they've worked together. Not only is John one of Doug’s most trusted business advisors, but they have also become close friends. This unique relationship has meant success for the Hartel Corporation, a firm that develops manufacturing processes, systems and equipment for clients in the food, dairy, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, chemical and bio-technology industries.

Owner/Founder
Doug Hartel
My Location
Fort Atkinson WI
United States
Employees
90
Year Company Formed
1972
My Successes

Doug formed his company in 1972 in Fort Atkinson, WI—where his family had been for more than four generations. Doug and his brother Tom made a total investment of $600 and then obtained financing for their venture though a Small Business Administration (SBA) guaranteed loan for $74,000. Fifteen years later, their multi-million dollar company does business both domestically and abroad in countries such as China, Russia, Turkey, France and Germany.

Doug sold his company in 1998. As of 2001, Doug and Tom continue to serve as consultants for the company's new owners. But while their association with the Hartel Corporation will draw to a close next year, Doug has fond memories of working with John. "John made it possible for all of this to happen," he says. "He was our guiding light in getting through what was a difficult time. He was always there when we needed him, for nothing else but a second opinion. I can't say enough about the help that John, SCORE and the SBA gave us."

What's Great About My Mentor?

SCORE Mentor John Thomson and Doug met in 1991 as the result of a referral from the SBA. Hartel was looking for a line of credit and the SBA followed up with his request by sending John, a seasoned SCORE mentor, to evaluate the Hartel Corporation and the request. Thomson was sent to determine whether the business was ready to go to the next level and could handle the increase in financing. Their relationship blossomed, and John and Doug began meeting once a month to discuss all aspects of the company—design, engineering, structure, marketing and finances.

Doug was able to open up to John and they developed a trust in which Hartel felt comfortable sharing delicate information with his SCORE mentor. “John’s involvement with the SBA and his banking relationships strengthened our company,” says Doug. 

Their relationship is still going today and, according to Tom, "will probably be going as long as we’re in business." Their mentoring discussions center around vision, future growth and implementation strategies. John also offers mentoring related to reviewing contract bids and their return ratio. Doug and John’s work together has paid off—in the past five years international shipments have increased from 3 percent to 50 percent of total business, and in 1997 sales topped $12 million.

"His [John’s] strength was as somebody who was talented enough and experienced enough to know what we are doing right and what can be improved. It takes a special kind of person to do this—he's solid and understands all the aspects of business. It takes a lot of trust," says Doug.

How SCORE Helped

Doug says, “If not for SBA and SCORE, I would have to ask myself, would I be an entrepreneur? Would this business exist without the benefit of resources that help small businesses?”

Pieh Tool Company Turns to SCORE for Assistance

Growing up in Burlington, Wisconsin, Amy Pieh thought everybody had blacksmiths and farriers for friends. And, for good reason. Her parents, Bill and Bonnie Pieh, owned Centaur Forge, which over the years had garnered a nationwide reputation for providing quality products to meet their customers’ needs. Amy helped to run the family business and turned to SCORE for assistance.

Owner/Founder
Amy Pieh
My Location
Camp Verde AZ
United States
Employees
2
Year Company Formed
2003
My Successes

After a tour of duty in the U.S. Air Force and starting a career as a metallurgical and energy systems inspector, Amy returned to Wisconsin in 2000 to help her mother run the family business after her father died. After her mother passed away 18 months later, she enlisted the help of SCORE volunteer mentors Jerry Carlson and Jim Reynolds to help her purchase the business.

After much consideration and advice, Amy decided to sell her parents company and start her own. Drawing on both the experience from her first attempt at entrepreneurship and email advice from Carlson, Amy launched Pieh Tool Company in May 2003, providing blacksmith and farrier supplies from a 4,000-sf store, by phone and over the Internet. 

Her debut as a small business owner was a far cry from her experience at Centaur Forge, however. “I had gone from being part of $4.5 million-a-year company to one lucky to gross $6,000 a month,” she says. “What’s more, my son, William Theodore, was born in October 2003, which was also our worst sales month.”

Though the frustrations and drain on Amy’s personal finances mounted, Carlson continued to provide long-distance encouragement and suggestion to manage her meager funds. “He suggested that I capitalize on my vendors’ trust in the family name to negotiate more favorable payment terms,” Amy says. “It worked. They had always been able to count on my parents, and they knew they could count on me.”

A year later, Pieh Tool Company has gradually quadrupled its monthly sales. Amy is fine-tuning her marketing strategy, and continues to build awareness about her company by participating in trade shows and other events across the country. In December 2003, she augmented the supply side of her business by opening a blacksmithing school. She hopes eventually to make the company a “full-service” shop by adding classes in knifemaking, gunsmithing and chasing/repousse, a form of sheet metal work.

Amy admits that Pieh Tool Company still has a long way to go. But whenever she has questions or needs some encouragement, she knows her SCORE mentors are only an email away.

http://azhorseconnection.com/CoverStory.pdf

 

What's Great About My Mentor?

Jerry Carlson and Jim Reynolds helped Amy develop a business plan and offered ideas for finding a loan.

“Jerry keeps encouraging me to contact the local chapter, but it’s hard to let go of someone who I trust, and who has been so helpful,” she says. “SCORE was there for me all the time when I needed help. It’s nice to know that I can call on them anytime, anywhere.”

Beyond Fleece

A fleece jacket is ideal for staying warm during Eugene, Oregon’s cool, damp months.  University of Oregon student Scott Jones couldn’t afford to buy such a jacket, so he did the next best thing—he learned how to make one himself. Encouraged by the comments of friends, he began making more jackets, first as a hobby, then as a small solo business he subsequently named Beyond Fleece.

Owner/Founder
Scott Jones
My Location
Eugene OR
United States
Employees
14
Year Company Formed
1996
My Successes

Scott continued the business after graduation and taking a new job as Oregon’s crew coach. Despite the tremendous demands on his time, he developed patterns that enabled him to offer a broader line of custom-made products and earn a small profit. 

With Beyond Fleece attracting more attention locally and from its new Web site, Scott realized that he needed to take a more professional approach to managing the business. “I was barely making ends meet and did not have the money to invest in counseling,” he recalls. “Fortunately, there was SCORE—an organization that could provide the help I needed for no charge.”

After an extended trip to Europe followed by a move to California in 2001, Scott felt that Beyond Fleece had reached a crossroads. The time-consuming business offered little in the way of financial security. That’s when a phone call from Backpacker magazine literally changed his life. A self-described “hard to fit” staff member had raved about her custom-made Beyond Fleece jacket, leading to a glowing review in the high-visibility publication. 

The upsurge in orders enabled Scott to relocate Beyond Fleece back to his beloved Eugene, hire his first employees and step up production and product offerings.  Subsequent reviews and Backpacker’s coveted “Editor’s Choice” award for 2002 have built further momentum for the business, including a 2,500-square-foot warehouse/production facility and 13 employees. Scott’s accomplishments as a business owner were recognized in April 2003, when he was named the SBA’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Working with several volunteer mentors at SCORE’s Eugene Chapter, Scott fine-tuned his business plan and assembled additional information needed to apply for an SBA-backed loan.  He also learned the fundamentals of bookkeeping, business taxes and how to identify and reach new markets for his products via traditional media and the Internet. “Instead of telling me what to do, they brainstormed with me,” Scott says. “We would discuss what I wanted to, and evaluate alternate approaches. That helped me learn much more, and develop my expertise as a business owner.”

How SCORE Helped

Scott credits the trust of his customers and confidence of his friends in helping him turn what started out as a hobby into a worthwhile enterprise. He also appreciates the role SCORE played during a critical stage in the evolution of Beyond Fleece. “The people at SCORE were very smart, very helpful and willing to share their experience,” he says. “They made it possible for me to move the business forward.”

All entrepreneurs should write a business plan, but if you are trying to raise investment
capital, a written plan that conveys your vision to potential investors is a must.

The truth is that many successful businesses were started without business plans. While that may be fine for the likes of a few people, it’s generally not a good idea. If you're going to start a business, the smartest approach is to write a business plan.

The Business Plan

A business plan provides you with a comprehensive, detailed overview of all the aspects of your business. This overview is the skeleton of your business—the underlying structure that provides the basis of your entire operation. Prepared in advance, a business plan allows you to review the pros and cons of your proposed business before you make a financial and emotional commitment to it.

There are three reasons to create a written business plan:

SCORE Mentors Keybowl, Inc. on Funding

Finding ways to get financing and promote your product requires marketing expertise. Peter McAlindon, president and CEO of Keybowl, Inc., found that expertise through Orlando SCORE.

Owner/Founder
Peter McAlindon
My Location
Winter Park FL
United States
Year Company Formed
1997
My Successes

Peter had developed a computer keyboard replacement product that can be used by people with disabilities of the hands, wrists and fingers. The orbiTouch Keyless Keyboard consists of two domes that, when moved in different directions, produce 128 characters.

“Although the computer has become essential to daily life, access for people with disabilities hasn’t been on a level playing field,” Peter says. “We are trying to help people with disabilities cross that digital divide.”

When faced with the challenge of obtaining financing for production and marketing of his product, Peter turned to SCORE for help and discussed his options with SCORE Mentor Joe Lefkowitz.

Today, the orbiTouch Keyless Keyboard is sold in ten countries and new innovations are on the way. Peter credits Orlando SCORE for helping to get his business off the ground.

What's Great About My Mentor?

For more than a year, Joe worked with Peter to raise seed money for production and distribution. “I was highly impressed with Pete’s product,” says Joe. “I also tried to help by providing marketing ideas.”

How SCORE Helped

“Joe was never hesitant to leverage what he knew or who he knew to help my business succeed,” says Peter. “We have come a long way in just a few short years thanks to SCORE.”

The Delicate Pen

After discovering the beauty of calligraphy in a magazine, actress Jane Labanz took up the art to occupy her time while working as a “booth singer” off stage. She soon found herself applying her own expression to the calligraphy she was self-teaching. When production cast members saw her work, they implored her to do their wedding and other one-off invitations.

When it occurred to actress Jane Labanz that she did not want to spend countless hours at auditions or acting in productions that kept her away from her Manhattan home for extended periods of time, she turned her talent to entrepreneurship to give her the freedom she needed.

She adapted her dramatic flair from stage to paper, developing a clientele in the film, television, theater and advertising industries. Her offerings range from initiation suits, hand-lettered envelopes, on-camera calligraphy and "vintage" calligraphic props.

The Delicate Pen provides high-end calligraphy products for weddings and other special events. Labanz' products have been showcased by Barbara Walters on TV’s “The View" and featured in numerous bride and wedding magazines, including Martha Stewart Living Wedding and New York Bride.

To learn more about Labanz and The Delicate Pen, visit www.delicatepen.com.

Owner/Founder
Jane Labanz
My Location
New York NY
United States
Year Company Formed
1995
My Successes

The Delicate Pen’s sales reached $150,000 in its first year and its products are now sold in more than 30 stores in the United States, Puerto Rico and Italy. Its stockists include Bloomingdale's and Michael C. Fina & Co.

Her new lifestyle allows Labanz to devote more time to her charitable passions such as participating in benefits for Broadway Cares and working for the Little Seeds program in South Africa. 

How SCORE Helped

In 1998, Labanz visited the New York SCORE office to learn about entrepreneurship. SCORE mentors helped her develop her first product line of fine stationery. Armed with a product portfolio and new entrepreneurial skills, Labanz participated in her first trade show, where well-known stationer Kate’s Paperie discovered The Delicate Pen’s products.

When it comes to advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, she emphatically states, “Go to SCORE!” She herself continues to take advantage of SCORE’s services as she grows her business. “Think big but start slow, and pick your passion," Labanz adds.

Enchanted Thyme Entertainment Finds Success Using SCORE as Resource

Fairy tales are all about happy endings.  Thanks to SCORE, Ariane Smith is writing a happy beginning to her dream of building a business that blends her experience as a children’s entertainer and storyteller with her fascination with fairy tales and culinary arts.

Owner/Founder
Ariane Smith
My Location
New York NY
United States
Year Company Formed
2007
My Successes

Ariane’s idea was simple, yet innovative—encourage healthy attitudes toward food among children by creating fun interactive stories called Enchanted Thyme, capped with healthy recipes that families could prepare together.  After exploring different avenues to develop her idea, she decided to bring Enchanted Thyme to life as a series of children’s novels.

Despite the uniqueness of Ariane’s idea, Enchanted Thyme still faced the formidable challenge of achieving visibility in a highly competitive book market.  Rather than rely solely on bookstores, Ariane decided to market the book through grocery stores where she would also offer interactive shows and culinary workshops.

Because her first Enchanted Thyme book had not yet been published, Ariane followed SCORE Mentor Abe Silverstein advice and, with book proofs in hand, began approaching nearby ShopRite grocery stores. “Three of them gave me the chance to do performances, which were very successful,” Ariane says.

ShopRite customers weren’t the only ones who were impressed.  The chain’s regional management agreed to sponsor Ariane at the FoodNetwork New York City Wine and Food Festival, enabling her to add high production value to her show at a high-profile venue.  ShopRite is also considering having Ariane perform at other stores in metropolitan New York and beyond.

As word of Enchanted Thyme has spread, Ariane is busy giving more performances at stores and libraries in New York City and the surrounding area.  She’s also at work on her second book, and working on animated shorts featuring Enchanted Thyme characters that kids can download to their iPods or cell phones.  “They can watch the short with their parents while grocery shopping, and pick up the ingredients for the recipe,” she says.

What's Great About My Mentor?

“Abe was a perfect fit for me,” Ariane says.  “He calibrated my approach, telling me when I was thinking too big, and when I needed to think bigger.” 

In assessing start-up financing options, Abe recommended that Ariane pursue a small business loan rather than seeking out investors.  “That allowed me to follow my own vision starting out, rather than having to answer to other people,” Ariane says.  “Abe helped me with my business plan, which led to an incredible loan with a great interest rate.”

Ariane continues to work with Abe, who frequently checks on her progress and provide a sounding board for ideas. “That he calls so regularly means the world to me,” she says.  “Starting and running a small business is not easy, especially these days.  It’s nice to have someone like Abe there to be a mentor and a friend.”

How SCORE Helped

 While attending an SBA seminar in Manhattan in early 2007, Ariane learned about SCORE and its free small business mentoring services.  She began meeting with New York City SCORE Mentor Abe Silverstein, a veteran of developing successful small businesses.

Please go to our Official Silicon Valley SCORE website at www.svscore.org

 

This spreadsheet walks you through the process of developing an integrated set of financial projections.
 

 

This spreadsheet walks you through the process of developing an integrated set of financial projections.
 
Syndicate content