SBDC Success Stories

Helping businesses start, grow, and prosper

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  • Your journey to excellence

    Here are some of the local businesses we've helped to get started on their journey to success.

    Burnt Cabins Grist Mill & Campground

    582 Grist Mill Rd.
    Burnt Cabins, PA 17215
    Fulton County
    Industry: Flours & Campground
    Year Founded: 2006 (Purchased)
    SBDC Assistance: Business plan, Proformas, Research
    Additional Partners: Community State Bank of Orbisonia, Southern Alleghenies Planning & Development Commission

    New Growth for Long Time Business

    In 2006, Dawn and Greg Harnish purchased Burnt Cabins Grist Mill and Campground. Burnt Cabins gets its name as a result of cabins there being burnt in 1750 because of a land dispute. The current mill was built in 1850 and produces a variety of flours and mixes using the same stone ground techniques throughout that time. The building was placed on the National Historic Register in 1980. A campground on adjoining property has operated since the 1970s. The prior owners had operated the facility since 1969 although aspects of it had gone downhill in the early 2000s. In fact, the Harnishs made comment that it seemed like they had purchased a property rather than a going concern.

    Since their purchase of the property, the Harnishs put a considerable amount of time and effort in improving both the campground and the grist mill operations. Campsites were modernized and expanded. There was a renewed effort to expand marketing efforts for the flours and mixes. The camp store was expanded into more of a convenience store and deli both for the campground and the surrounding community. Some nearby farmland was leased so that the Harnishs could grow some of the grains themselves that are used in their mixes.

    All of these efforts paid off with increased business over the years. This also came with increased costs. While the business was getting by, cash flow was becoming more of a concern. Because of this, the Harnishs put together a business plan outlining what they would like to do with additional improvements and expansion to the campground; updating of their website for marketing both the campground and the flours; and to refinance much of their existing debt. When they contacted Community State Bank of Orbisonia, the loan officer, Dan Nead, arranged a meeting with Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission in relation to part of the loan package. He also recommended they contact the SBDC in relation to work in relation to the business plan and financial projections.

    The SBDC first met with Burnt Cabins in March 2014. While the SBDC had worked with the prior owners of the business, there had been no prior direct work with the Harnishs. The SBDC worked with information provided by the business in order to develop full financial projections and related items as part of the overall proposal. The projections showed a much enhanced cash flow and increased revenues for both ends of the business. The plan and projections were presented to both the bank and to Southern Alleghenies.

     In June 2014, the SBDC was informed that the overall financing package had been approved. This included $500,000 from Community State Bank and $51,750 from Southern Alleghenies. The business will be working over the coming months on adding two cabins to the campground as well as other modernization items. The website will be updated in order to increase the revenues from the various flours and mixes. As a result, the long history of Burnt Cabins Grist Mill will continue long into the future.

    All-American Pizza

    612 Washington Street
    Huntingdon, PA 16652
    Huntingdon County
    Industry: Pizza
    Year Founded: 2013 (Purchased)
    SBDC Assistance: Business plan, Proformas, Start-up assistance
    Additional Partners: Community State Bank, Southern Alleghenies and Huntingdon County Business & Industry

    Huntingdon Man Back in Pizza Business

    Jason McGeary had worked in the pizza business as a teenager and young adult. He then left that behind and went to work at a local factory. There was always something about the pizza business and he felt one day he would be back there. His job was providing him with a nice living, but he had always wanted to own his own business. A friend of his owned All-American Pizza in Huntingdon. Jason was ordering food at the business and the owner mentioned that he was interested in selling. He asked Jason if he was interested and he said yes, but did not know where to start. The owner suggested that he contact the SBDC for assistance in purchasing the business.

    On January 10, 2011, the SBDC met with Jason at our Huntingdon Outreach office to discuss the possible purchase of the business. The SBDC explained to Jason what information we would need in order to assist him in completing the business plan and projected financial statements. He had also been discussing his project with his banker. The goal was to show the bank, as well as other potential lenders, that he was committed to this business and had the background and experience necessary to make this a successful operation. They also wanted to be in business by September 2013 in order to take advantage of the returning students to nearby Juniata College.

    The SBDC assisted Jason in preparing a business plan, three year projected income statement, balance sheet, statement of cash flow and a detailed narrative explaining how he arrived at the projected figures. During this time, Jason’s wife Christa started to take an active role in the planning process. She recently graduated from Penn State in business and was very anxious to assist. She had a very good feel for the market as well as the numbers. During the planning phase, it was determined that the business would not be able to handle the proposed debt service. The McGeary’s went back to the seller and negotiated a reduction in the selling price. Upon completion of his business plan and projected financial statements, they presented the package for financing.

    On September 11, 2013, the McGeary’s informed the SBDC that the financing for this project was approved. Jason resigned his position at the local factory and he and Christa are working the business full-time. Jason is responsible for the day to day management and operation of the shop, while Christa is in charge of the marketing, promotion and records. She also assists Jason with the management of the shop. The business is doing well and has 15 employees.

    Golden Eagle Inn

    131 E. Pitt Street
    Bedford, PA 15522
    Bedford County
    Industry: Inn/Restaurant
    Year Founded: 2013
    SBDC Assistance: Business plan, Proformas, Start-up assistance
    Additional Partners: Altoona First Savings Bank, Southern Alleghenies and the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce

    Historic Inn & Restaurant Has New Owners

    Connie Clark and her family were very interested in reopening the Golden Eagle Inn in Downtown Bedford. It had been closed for the past few years as the owner was having health issues. Connie found out that the business was up for sale and she and other family members decided to take a look at possibly purchasing the business. They felt that their different skill sets would be a good match to manage the business. Connie has a background in customer service and customer relations, while her sister and brother-in-law both have experience in managing restaurants and bars. Her mother would also be available to assist with anything that would need done through the day. The building was built in 1794 and is one of the oldest buildings in Bedford. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places. The building had been renovated in the early 1990’s by the owner and was in excellent shape. As a side note, the owner of the business was also an SBDC client during that time period. There is also a hotel liquor license that would be purchased as part of the deal. The plan is to serve alcohol in the restaurant, while reopening a small pub in the basement of the building. In early 2013, they decided that now was the time to move forward with their idea. Connie contacted the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce as well as her bank to open discussions about the purchase. Both of them referred her to the SBDC for assistance.

    On February 13, 2013, the SBDC met with Connie, her sister Mary Jane Helsel and brother-in-law Tom Helsel to discuss the possible purchase of the business. The SBDC explained to Connie what information we would need in order to assist her in completing the business plan and projected financial statements. The bank felt that Southern Alleghenies may be able to look at financing a portion of the project through the Small Business First program. The goal was to show lenders that they were committed to this business and that each person would have a specific role in the business. They were also willing to invest their own cash into the project. The goal was to be open by late summer so they could take advantage of local events such as the Bedford Fall Foliage Festival.

    The SBDC assisted Connie in preparing a business plan, three year projected income statement, balance sheet, statement of cash flow and a detailed narrative explaining how she arrived at the projected figures. Upon completion of her business plan and projected financial statements, she presented the package for financing.

    On September 18, 2013, Connie informed the SBDC that the financing for her project was approved. Connie remains employed and works the business on evenings and weekends. Mary Jane and Tom live at the inn and are in charge of the day to day management of the business. The reaction of the local community and travelers has been very positive.

    B.D. Propst Trucking

    151 Rio Grande Road
    Clearville, PA 15535-5540
    Bedford County
    Industry: Transportation
    Year Founded: 2001
    SBDC Assistance: Small Business Advantage Grant
    Additional Partners: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

    Small Business Advantage Grant Winner

    Brian and Tracy Propst never gave up. They own B. D. Propst Trucking, a small business located in Clearville, PA, which operates a tractor trailer for interstate freight transportation. In order to reduce fuel consumption and comply with an increasing number of anti-idling laws, Brian’s goal became to purchase an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) with the help of a state- funded grant. The APU powers the truck’s heating and air conditioning without the need for the truck to be idling.At an annual safety meeting in March 2009 Brian became informed about the possibilities of a grant to help purchase an APU. “I became particularly interested in the Small Business Advantage Grant Program, whose objective is to assist small PA business owners reduce their energy or pollution handling costs,” stated Brian.

    With the help of his wife, Tracy, who manages the business, Brian set out to work. After making several phone calls to various offices, the Propsts contacted State Representative Dick Hess, who pointed Tracy in the right direction to their local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). They soon began working with Environmental Consultant Charles Haney, who helped them through every step of the application as well as the financial calculations necessary to complete the paperwork. Tracy states, “If I ever had a question that Charles didn’t know the answer to off hand, he would find an answer very quickly.”

    “How to overcome obstacles became the theme to receiving this grant,” stated Brian when discussing the many challenges they had to face. The first shock came when they learned that they would have to pay for and install the APU before they would be considered for the grant. Paying for this unit upfront came to be a big challenge for Brian and Tracy. Shortly after applying for the grant, the department contacted them and requested they verify that their APU of choice was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Smartway Program. After overcoming this obstacle they resubmitted their application only to receive more bad news: the state had a spending freeze until a new budget was passed. After waiting months, Brian and Tracy finally received a check in the mail in July 2010.

    Brian acknowledges his appreciation for the guidance he received from the SBDC. He explained that through all the obstacles they faced, they would have lost all hope if it were not for Charles. Tracy stated that Charles had always been there to encourage them that it would work out in the end. After reflecting on the consulting received, Brian said, “The SBDC was our cheerleader. I have recommended and will continue to recommend their services.”

    Oravec Dental Practice

    109 Carmello Lane
    Lilly, PA 15938
    Cambria County
    Industry: Dental Practice
    Year Founded: 2010
    SBDC Assistance: Business plan, Proformas, Start-up assistance

    Dentist Buys Out Owner

    Nicole Oravec has been a practicing dentist for only a few years when she was presented with the opportunity to purchase the practice from her employer. During her time there, Dr. Oravec was seeing all the patients and learning everything about the business. Her employer knew this would be important to her when the time came for her to purchase the practice. She had always wanted her own practice, but knew it would be difficult to start on from scratch. Purchasing the practice from her employer would give her the opportunity to have her own practice without some of the hurdles that starting her own would create. The current owner will continue to stay on as a staff member on a part-time basis. This will provide her with additional support should she run into any problems. She realized early on that she would need assistance in developing a sound proposal. She wanted to be certain that she has thought this through and was prepared for an eventual meeting with a local bank to discuss financing the purchase of the practice.

    On April 8, 2009, the SBDC met with Dr. Oravec at our office to discuss the potential purchase. At this time, she had already started work on an initial business plan and had the tax returns for the practice. The SBDC explained to Dr. Oravec what information we would need in order to assist her in completing the business plan and projected financial statements. The goal was to show the lender that Dr. Oravec thought through the process, did her homework on the market and financials and had the ability to service any debt incurred. Her goal was to take the practice over before the end of the year.

    The SBDC assisted Dr. Oravec in preparing a business plan, three year projected income statement, balance sheet, statement of cash flow and a detailed narrative explaining how she arrived at the projected figures. The projected cash flow was a very important aspect of the planning process. She would have limited cash flow for the first few months until she started receiving insurance reimbursement. Upon completion of her business plan and projected financial statements, she approached her bank.

    On October 27, 2010, Dr. Oravec informed me that the financing for her project was approved. She received two bank loans through Altoona First Savings Bank, one for the practice and the other for the real estate. The current owner agreed to finance and she received a credit line through the bank. She is now officially the owner and things are doing well. The practice has six employees.

    Read's Tree Service

    171 Front Street
    Hooversville, PA 15936
    Somerset County
    Industry: Tree Service
    Year Founded: 1990
    SBDC Assistance: Pre Business Seminar, Business Evaluation, Business Plan and Financial Projections, Loan Assistance, Start-Up Assistance
    Additional Partners: First Commonwealth Bank

    From Employee to Entrepreneur

    Joe Nicklow was an employee at Read’s Tree Service. He contacted the Saint Francis University Small Business Development Center to discuss purchasing the business. In looking at the business, Joe realized he had many items to consider. He knew how to drop trees and provide quality service but nothing about developing a business plan.

    In looking at getting guidance for his plans, Mr. Nicklow attended an SBDC a Pre-Business Planning seminar. Additionally, local banks recommended that he should contact the SBDC. In August, Annette Chunko met with Mr. Nicklow at the Johnstown outreach location to discuss his idea and plans. Annette assisted Joe in evaluating and reviewing the business financials and assisted with a business analysis to evaluate the opportunity.

    In the weeks that followed Joe, working in conjunction with the SBDC, developed his business plan in relation to financing and purchasing the business. A part of his plan was to continue the same quality service and reputation of Read’s Tree Service.In late September 2010, Mr. Nicklow presented the plan to his bank and about a month later received his financing. The funds were used to purchase the business as well as the additional supplies and working capital.

    Joe Nicklow went from employee to owner and operator of the company. While he will continue to provide the services that customers have come to expect from Read’s Tree Service, Joe has plans to expand the business into additional areas depending on demand and opportunity. Read’s Tree Service has served customers of Cambria and Somerset Counties for more than twenty years and Joe plans to continue the high quality for years to come.

    Rogers Brothers Corporation

    Rogers Brothers Corporation
    100 Orchard Street
    Albion, PA 16401
    Erie County
    www.rogerstrailers.com
    Industry: Lowbed trailers
    Year Founded: 1905
    SBDC Assistance: Marketing Assistance/Development of Marketing Materials, Representation at the trade show, Development of trade leads,Conduction of research
    Additional Partners: U.S. Commercial Service

    New Sales in Peru

    Rogers Brothers Corporation has been in business for over 100 years, building high quality lowbed trailers in Albion, Pennsylvania. Thousands of Rogers® trailers are now in service around the world and Mr. Mark Kulyk, Rogers Brothers president, constantly strives to find new opportunities and expand his company further.

    As a result, this company has sold its trailers in 65 countries on five continents.

    Rogers Brothers Corporation has been working with the Saint Francis University SBDC Center for Global Competitiveness (CGC) for a number of years. It is also a part of the Pennsylvania Mining Industrial Group established by the Saint Francis University SBDC over 10 years ago.

    The Pennsylvania Mining Industrial Group (PAMIG) consists of a group of companies involved in the mining equipment manufacturing and construction industries that offer high quality and specialized products and services. Every year the Saint Francis University SBDC Center for Global Competitiveness represents PAMIG at mining shows all over the globe. It has hosted mining trade shows around the world including: Electra Mining in South Africa, EXTEMIN in Peru, EXPOMIN in Chile, AIMEX in Australia, and UGOL & Mining in Ukraine. The nominal $250 per company participation fee makes it easier for companies to test the waters in foreign markets.

    Rogers Brothers Corporation participated in the EXTEMIN catalog show in September 2009. The Saint Francis University CGC represented the company by displaying marketing materials, developing trade leads, and conducting research on its behalf. At the conclusion of the trade event, the CGC submitted the trade leads, buyer information, and contact materials obtained from the show to Mr. Mark Kulyk. The center also worked closely with the U.S. Commercial Service to make the show a success.

    Two months later Rogers Brothers received an inquiry for a trailer as a result of the EXTEMIN catalog show participation. Mr. Kulyk is currently working on the logistics for this sale and says that it was the best money he had ever spent.

    Mr. Kulyk is very pleased with the results of the catalog shows and is looking to continue his participation. Through the center’s assistance, Rogers Brothers was recently represented at the Electra Mining trade show in Johannesburg, South Africa in October 2010. Mark Kulyk is also planning to participate in the Mining World Russia trade show that will be hosted by the Saint Francis CGC in Moscow in April 2011.

    Somerset Office Supply

    Somerset Office Supply
    117 N. Center Avenue
    PO Box 269
    Somerset, PA 15501
    Somerset County
    Industry: Retail office supplies and furniture
    Year Founded: 1975
    SBDC Assistance: Business Consulting, Business Plan and Financial Projections, Loan Assistance
    Additional Partners Local Bank, Accountant and Attorney

    New Home for Somerset Office Supply

    Heidi Klink, owner of Somerset Office Supply, first contacted the Saint Francis University Small Business Development Center in November 2009 after being referred here by her accountant and attorney. This was in relation to refinancing the business consolidating it into one location. Ms. Klink had worked for years at the business and purchased it in 2008 through owner financing. After a year under her ownership, she realized she needed help in evaluating various options in relation to the business.

    Ms. Klink met with SBDC business analyst, Annette Chunko, to assist her with these various issues. After meeting with the SBDC Consultant, Heidi realized it made business sense to consolidate both the business financing and its location. She could save money and have better control. Heidi worked with the SBDC on developing a complete business proposal to present to local financial institutions. This included a business plan projected financial statements and detailed assumptions. The assistance also included discussions on various financing.

    The plan was completed in January 2010. By July 2010, Heidi relocated the business and worked out the financing of the project. The total project cost was approved with continued financing from the previous owner and a line of credit from the local bank. In evaluating the financial statements it made more sense to stay with the owner financing option.

    Somerset Office Supply, LLC now serves the business community of Somerset County from one location. Through the SBDC assistance received, Somerset Office Supply has improved its overall cash flow and allowed Heidi more time to focus on the core aspects of her business.

    Tiny Tots Childcare & Learning Center

    55 N. Riverside Dr.
    Mt. Union, PA 17066
    (814) 542-3211
    New Proposed Location:
    22960 Croghan Pike
    Shade Gap, PA 17255
    (814) 542-3211
    www.tinytotschildcarelearningcenter.com
    Industry: Daycare Center
    Year Founded: 2001
    SBDC Assistance: Financial Feasibility, market research, business plan development, proforma financial statement development, financing proposal.
    Additional Partners: Community State Bank

    Tiny Tots Grows Up

    In 2001, Dawn Try-Myers began watching children in her home as a way to help out people she knew needing childcare services in the evening and on weekends. Her reputation grew and soon she began getting inquiries about services needed in the Mt. Union area. With such a rural area, most people had to travel to Huntingdon or Orrstown – a 20 to 30 minute commute in either direction - and no centers offered evening and weekend care. So, she and her husband purchased a house in Mt. Union and opened a second location. Between both locations, Dawn employees three full time employees. And with the changes that came about in the childcare industry with the onset of the Keystone Stars program, Dawn recognized that it would be an advantage to her business if she took the steps necessary to become certified through the program. She has continued to do so and mandates that all employees get the same training she goes through.

    Over the years, Dawn has wanted to transition her original center out of her home and into a place of its own, but still maintain its presence in the Shade Gap area. Her first opportunity to pursue expansion was with the availability of a foreclosure property that was coming up for sheriff sale. At that time, Dawn was directed by her community bank to contact the Saint Francis University Small Business Development Center. Working with one of the SBDC Consultants, Dawn began exploring the possibility obtaining the necessary financing to purchase the property at auction. Unfortunately, that property didn’t work out. Through various contacts, Dawn became aware the property was probably going to go higher than what she wanted to invest. So, she held off on pursuing it.

    But Dawn didn’t let that stop her from continuing her plans. Taking her own initiative, Dawn talked to her neighbor who had previously been trying to sell his property, which was set up to house, which was set up to house a former retail and service business. The neighbor made her an offer and she accepted. Dawn contacted The Department of Public Welfare and the Department of Labor and Industry to check on the regulations and codes and found that very little would need to be done to the property to get it certified.

    Dawn again followed up with the Saint Francis SBDC consultant who began working with her on her business plan. The consultant assisted Dawn with exploring the financial feasibility, generating the demographic information to support the market, and assisted her with developing a comprehensive business plan and financing proposal.

    In December 2010, Dawn informed the SBDC that she received a preliminary approval pending the appraisal of the property she was buying. She anticipated final approval and closing in January 2011. She had already started interviewing for positions as she intends to hire two full time caregivers for the new facility. How supportive was Dawn’s husband during the whole process? He must have had pretty good faith in her; he allowed her to sell his and her Harley Davidson motorcycles to use as down payment towards the purchase of the property.

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