Wedgewood Wedding and Banquet Center chain, founded, owned and operated by the Zaruka Family began in 1986. Located in Camarillo,,California, Wedgewood was founded when John and Linda Zaruka took out two SBA-backed loans from National Bank of California to buy a failing golf course restaurant, which they converted to banquet service exclusively. From this humble beginning, the Zaruka’s now offer 17 wedding locations throughout California.
Starting with one employee, the family-owned business now employs 100 full-time and 300 part-time employees - in the last three years alone, two hundred employees have been added (a 100 percent increase). Revenues from 2011 will exceed $20 million and just as important they have maintained an “A” guest rating.
Both the Zaruka children, Bill and Stacy, worked alongside their parents at an early age and then went on to get degrees at excellent hospitality colleges, eventually returning to the family business as partial owners.
Since 2002, the Zaruka’s have added 15 new “Wedgewood’s”. In 2011, the Wedgewood’s will serve over 375,000 banquet guests and host over 1,500 weddings.
John and Linda are also well known for their community service, and they have raised millions of dollars for local and international projects.
In a male-dominated field of mostly retired law enforcement professionals, Patricia A. Kotze-Ramos, owner and founder of Diversified Risk Management, Inc., is a champion for bringing more women into the private investigation field.
Since 2002, when she co-founded the firm using a SBA loan. Kotze-Ramos has handled thousands of matters involving employment, civil and criminal matters. In 2005, DRM Inc. grew from 500 sq. ft. to 2,500 sq. ft. and she now employs approximately fifty employees and contractors.
Her company serves small business as well as Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, attorneys, non-profits and individuals who require the best in investigations, training, background checks and security services. Having been in the consulting business for over 27 years, Kotze-Ramos has served as a role model for other women and actively mentors other women-business owners through several boards, committees and organizations.
In addition to running a successful business, she has served as a member and president of Soroptimist International of Downey, a board member of the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chair of the City of Downey Public Works Committee and currently is the 2011 City of Downey Chamber of Commerce President-elect.
In Los Angeles, the fashion capital of the West Coast, a small upstart textile and design house has ignited interest as a new trend setter. Elizabeth J. Figueroa & Company, owned and founded by the same Elizabeth J. Figueroa, launched in November 2009. Figueroa decided it was her time to shine and with over 28 years of garment industry experience Figueroa brought along a well-established, national and international clientele.
Figueroa knew she had experience in the textile and design part of the business but wanted to ensure a smooth seamless launch – in January of 2010 she met Marsel Watts, currently the Program Director of the Women’s Business Center hosted by Valley Economic Development Center, who guided Figueroa through the company’s launch.
“I truly recommend the VEDC for support and guidance to any company - no matter what the profession may be,” said Figueroa. “Since I first was introduced to the Women’s Business Center, we have been connected in more ways than one…I have attended their Empowerment Program, The Do’s and Don’ts of Business and Women in Business, The Tory Burch Mentoring Program and Travelers Small Business Risk Education seminars just to name a few.”
“Figueroa took the exceptional industry experience she gained over the years and just took off with the technical assistance the WBC provided,” said Watts. Since her work with the WBC, Figueroa’s textile and design house has grown and sales revenue has tripled. “I now have five on staff with the plan being to hire again in the near future,” said Figueroa.
“I have a reputation for having the experience, knowledge and ability to successfully select and sell in the forthcoming seasons,” said Figueroa. Elizabeth J. Figueroa & Company with the assistance of one of SBA’s four Los Angeles area Women’s Business Centers has become one of the hottest “Go To” places for next season’s trends in textiles. “I believe in my product and have a very strong passion for it!”