A newly built Chevron gas station in North Hollywood, California is one of three state-of-the-art gas stations having a new vaulted concrete system that ensures zero ground contamination from the gas station’s fueling system.
The gas station is owned by Bijan “Ben” Pouldar who emigrated with his family from Iran to the United States many years ago. In 1979, after earning his B.S and M.A. in Civil Engineering from the University of Missouri, he and has family bought a gas station in the San Fernando Valley – this would be the first of 13 gas stations he and his family would buy over the next 34 years, some of them using the SBA’s 504 Loan Program.
The Chevron gas station provides 15 jobs and hosts a bustling sit-down Mexican food restaurant, a lavish convenience store and a car wash that can handle 60 cars per hour. The project came together with the backing of Regina Grant Peterson, executive director of Advantage CDC, a non-profit SBA certified development company that provides low-cost, long-term SBA loans to small businesses in Southern California, and Kimberly Thornberry a vice president and team leader with Popular Community Bank (formerly Banco Popular and also an SBA lending partner).
Initially, Pouldar purchased the property in 2004 through an SBA 504 Loan, which helps small business owners purchase owner-occupied commercial real estate and equipment while retaining working capital. The 504 Loan Program provides buffers to the parties involved such as a lower down payment for the borrower than a conventional bank loan and it reduces the risk for lenders through a shared financing structure.
In 2010, a second SBA 504 Loan was used to demolish the existing gas station structure, perform environmental remediation to the site and build the modern 4,226 square foot Chevron facility that opened in December 2011. Besides the 15 local jobs created the other highlight of the facility is the new vaulted concrete system, which enables the caretakers to safely walk underneath all the fueling tanks and pipes to check and confirm the system is leak free and in the unlikely case of a leak will trap and contain the leak in the vault. This innovative system also allows Pouldar to save money by eschewing the older and less environmentally friendly in-ground storage tank system and its Under Ground Storage Tank Maintenance Fee.
Pouldar said the neighborhood needs business owners and residents alike to take pride in ownership. He hopes that the modernized station will attract new customers as well as increase the property values of nearby residents. With Pouldar’s community friendly mind-set and desire to keep California clean, it’s now wonder he has helped to fuel the growth of his small business for thirty plus years.
“The Small Business Administration has helped open doors for us. Helped us with education, helped us with advocacy. All of those things that really help small businesses like ourselves achieve the success we’ve achieved so far,” said Sanjay Kucheria, CEO of Trinus Corporation. Trinus Corporation is a business intelligence and data management solutions company, which was founded in 1995 by Kucheria.
In 2003, Kucheria took his intense desire to make Trinus a market leader and entered into the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program, which helps small disadvantaged businesses compete in the federal marketplace. At that time, Trinus Corporation had been steadily growing for eight years but not at the pace Kucheria had envisioned. He had been keeping the operating expenses low and investing every penny of profit back into his company to avoid the need for any loans.
He contacted the Los Angeles SBA District Office and inquired about the 8(a) Business Development Program, which allows participants to receive sole-source contracts, up to a ceiling of $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing. It’s a steppingstone for small business owners to build their competitive and institutional know-how while opening up doors to joint ventures and mentor-protégé arrangements.
Kucheria and his team kept to their strategy of growing the company by focusing on multiple vertical markets within the government and commercial sectors. “Through the two recessions and the Great Recession we’ve consistently grown, in fact, last year  we grew 35%,” said Kucheria.
Trinus Corporation has grown from $120,000 in its first year to now having a work force of 121 individuals with about $12 million in sales. Kucheria plans to reach $50 million by 2017 and there is no evidence he is slowing down. “I feel tremendous joy in receiving the 8(a) Graduate of the Year Award,” said Kucheria. No wonder the SBA is proud to have Sanjay Kucheria as a 2013 Small Business Week Award winner.
When a trend setter or style conscience individual goes to a typical mall they are both unlimited in their choices and confined to those choices. One can choose individual flavors of ice cream, pizza ingredients, ring arrangements and hair styles but for the most part custom-made clothing such as shirts, hats and outfits are not on hand for the typical mall shopper – this is about to change.
In October 2013, HDLV USA will launch a flagship location at Westfield Culver City Mall that will go beyond the typical routine of finding the perfect hat, shirt or outfit and usher in a new concept that will delight and indulge customers by offering in person fashion services directly to everyday consumers, including HDLV USA custom painted hat designs, fashion styling, and an exclusive selection of trendsetting fashion brands. “Personalizing the traditional retail shopping experience provides elite value for our celebrity clientele and makes everyday consumers feel like celebrities,” says Janey.
Benjamen Janey founded HDLV, a creative fashion firm, in 2010; HDLV stands for Highly Distinguished Liquid Value and specializes in creating custom fashion branding for stylish individuals.
Janey started selling clothes as a vendor on Venice Beach in 2008 and fondly remembers having to get up before dawn to stand in line for the 5 a.m. vendor lottery to have a stall along Venice Beach. It was there that Janey made a name for himself as a local designer and entrepreneur by creating his hand painted caps for beachgoers and tourists. He quickly became a known name and brand among the Venice Beach culture.
Referring to his clothing industry start on Venice Beach, “You quickly know if your products are viable or not….I learned how to sell, what to sell and learned different languages,” said Janey. “At first, I got some markers and blank trucker hats and hand painted them with customer’s names or put a funny character on it…from that I developed a whole collection from pop culture icons.” Back then, he sold as many items as possible at a competitive price, “in order to compete in Los Angeles, I designed a product that was unique and affordable and that was how I penetrated the market.”
By 2010, Janey planned to expand out of Venice Beach and into malls, so he attended the Valley Economic Development Center’s access to capital event “Where’s the Money.” There he met Marsel Watts, director of the SBA’s Women Business Center hosted by VEDC. They immediately set up a business consultation and she reviewed his products. She concurred with Janey’s plan to expand out of Venice Beach and recommended Orange County Marketplace in Costa Mesa, California that is one of the largest weekly events in Southern California with approximately two million visitors each year.
Janey applied for and received a $5,000 microloan for inventory and equipment to build out and open the Costa Mesa location. For the next two years, Janey improved upon that location and received additional financing from Travelers’s Safety Risk Management Program to refine his product lines and grow his start-up.
It was around the two-year mark that HDLV also captured the media’s attention and Janey was featured on television shows such as Art Traveler, Fluid Artist and NewFacet TV. He also attended an awards ceremony and met the actress Vivica Fox. But after the blitzkrieg of media attention, Janey went right back to planning for the third phase of his expansion and his most recent milestone as a rising small business owner.
This leads back to the launch of HDLV USA’s flagship location at Westfield Culver City Mall, which would be comparable to an Urban Outfitters or Forever 21. “This grand opening is a huge step and it’s a great launching pad for the retail end of the business…Westfield malls are located in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. In 2015, they are planning to open a mall in the new World Trade Center in New York,” said Janey.
Janey described the business technical assistance and support of Marsel Watt’s at the Women’s Business Center and the financial backing of VEDC, a SBA lender, “like a big sister or brother…they have big expectations and see the business opening in more locations,” said Janey. The deal took about six months to complete with the help of accountants, attorneys and HDLV’s new management team.
At HDLV USA’s new location, anyone can design an outfit and/or hat there, and that young girl or guy who wants to wear something customized but in style will now be able to purchase this at Westfield Culver City Mall’s newest store come October. “It’s the first of its kind. Westfield Group, VEDC and the Women’s Business Center made an investment in the location and I’m looking forward to our grand opening,” said Janey.