Ms. Arlene Dotzler founded North Coast Construction in 1997. As a woman-owned sole proprietorship in what is often thought to be a male-dominated industry, Ms. Dotzler soon found the going tough in all aspects of the business. It was particularly difficult to acquire and maintain a significant volume of construction contracts to reach that point of critical mass needed to carry a business through potential economic downturns.
Then Ms. Dotzler heard about the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and its Minority Business Development Program. Also referred to as the 8(a) Program, it is intended to help socially and economically disadvantaged business owners compete in the Federal Procurement Marketplace. The SBA’s 8(a) program assists these firms in gaining equal access to the resources necessary to develop their business and thereby, improve their ability to compete on an equal basis in the mainstream of the economy. Seeking that so called “equal playing field”, Arlene Dotzler contacted the Los Angeles District Office of the SBA. She applied to the 8(a) program and was certified into it in early 2001.
Upon certification, Ms. Dotzler was assigned a Business Opportunity Specialist (BOS) to work with her and to serve as an advocate. The BOS is completely facile in all aspects of the program and possesses a sound understanding of business management and the principles of financial analysis, and in turn draws upon these skill sets to shepherd the participating company through the program and enlighten the participant as to how to optimize participation.
The essence of SBA 8 (a) is a “self-development” program. The participant must take the initiative to avail herself of the various components of the program that can add value to the business. In short, the business owner must “work the program.” This often involves having one-on-one consultations with the BOS, participating in SBA- hosted training and LOS ANGELES PRESS OFFICE workshops, and taking the necessary steps to acquire the appropriate bonding (which can be guaranteed by SBA) to foster revenue growth.
Arlene Dotzler personifies the epitome of initiative. Since her 8(a) certification in January 2001 she has utilized the full menu of 8(a) services. She immediately attended the SBA’s Lead Point Seminar to receive 7(j) technical assistance in the form of a one week session on strategic management and effective business operations. While this was a substantial amount of time for a small business owner to invest in training, it paid outstanding dividends. Arlene Dotzler, not only sponged up the knowledge, but applied it to the operations of her business and in the process successfully changed her company into a winning entity.
Over a 2 year period she tripled North Coast Construction’s total revenues, and grew her 8(a) revenue to a point where 50% of total company sales are 8(a). Her bonding capacity
increased three and one half times. Credit lines available to fund projects grew exponentially. Equally remarkable is the community economic development that sprang from the growth of her business. Over the 24 month that Ms. Dotzler has been in the 8(a) program she has doubled her payroll and created an additional 6 new jobs.
Los Angeles District Office Director, Alberto G. Alvarado praised Arlene Dotzler stating, “Ms. Dotzler showed her tenacity in accelerating through the program. She took nothing for granted, thereby exposing her company to the full gamut of program deliverable and the concomitant rewards. She truly exemplifies the spirit of entrepreneurship.”
North Coast Construction operates out of Santa Barbara County and can be reached using the following contact information:
216 West Walnut
Lompoc, CA 93436
(805) 740-1727 Fax.
For more information on the SBA’s Programs And Services please call:
- Armida Brother at (818) 552-3233 for 8(a) Program.
- Barbara Madel at (818) 552-3314 for SBA Loan Programs
- Fernando Olivares at (818) 552-3256 for information in Spanish
- Or visit the SBA’s user friendly web site at www.sba.gov.
The remarkable saga of the Lara Family is the quintessential immigrant success story, one that has been played out in every community in every major city throughout America, where the smoggy air is unable to stifle the dreams that the less fortunate use to express their yearning for a better life. In this scenario, however the aspirations occur in Mexico and in East LA. Having just married Mercedes when he turned 18, Humberto Lara and his bride left the impovished town of La Cienega, Zacatecas in Mexico and headed for Los Angeles with the clothes on their backs and $50 that they were able to borrow. A cousin rented the young couple a small space in what, in effect, was a chicken coop and the Laras started the California chapter of their story.
Ten years and six children later the Laras purchased their first home. At this time, Humberto was working as a butcher and looking for ways to earn additional income to support the family. These thoughts became reality as the Lara Family opened Tacos Rinconcito to sell Mexican fast food to the surrounding businesses in the City of Bell. This operation served them well but did not completely sate their entrepreneurial spirit.
An opportunity to buy a full scale restaurant in Maywood presented itself and in 1987 Las Trancas Restaurant was born. In 1994, Humberto and Mercedes added a banquet hall business to complement the restaurant. By offering some of the Southland’s best Mexican seafood entrees, Las Trancas became a local Latino legend which helped underscore the early success of the family business. In 1997, CBS Channel 2 News rated Las Trancas as one of the top 500 restaurants in Los Angeles County.
The key to success was the familial atmosphere that transcended the presence of excellent cuisine. Las Trancas was truly a family owned business. It was obvious that Humberto and Mercedes headed the operations; however, four of the children actively work in the Restaurant or Salon, and the other siblings have a passive affinity for the business.
Demand soon exceeded seating capacity, and the Lara Family decided to expand. Plans were established to enlarge the restaurant and to add another banquet hall. This time the Laras had to reach outside of the family resources to achieve this phase of business growth. They were in need of substantial financing for expansion.
It appeared that the Lara story would have an abbreviated ending. Several attempts to procure outside financing came to no avail. Without access to outside capital, the family business would not be able to reach its full potential and the dream would be over. It seemed that area financial institutions were reluctant to underwrite the restaurant expansion, categorizing the industry as too risky. The feasibility of acquiring a loan for another banquet also became questionable, in light of the fact that local bankers did not understand that end of the business.
Things appeared dim for the family, but because of the entrepreneurial spirit of both Humberto and Mercedes they remained firm and committed to persevere, just as they had done in the past when confronted by what appeared to be insurmountable obstacles. Their focused tenacity paid off in 1999, when they had the fortune to connect with Craig Conner, Vice President of the SBA Loan Department at Pacific Crest Bank (PCB). Craig visited the sites, acquired a solid grasp of the business operations and became well acquainted with the family behind this family-owned enterprise.
As a result of the relationship established between Craig’s Bank and Las Trancas, two SBA 7 (a) loans have been made to the Laras. In 1999 the first loan doubled the restaurant capacity and added a beautiful patio eating area. The second loan financed the second location for the banquet business.
As an epilog, today, Humberto and Mercedes Lara are the proud owners of a thriving enterprise that provides security for the entire family, and has created three dozen jobs within the local community. In honor of their accomplishments, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) today selected Humberto and Mercedes Lara and Las Trancas Restaurant as winners of the Family Owned Business Award. The award will be presented to Mr. and Mrs. Lara at the SBA’s 23rd Annual Small Business Week Awards Luncheon to be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 25, 2004 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
SBA Los Angeles Office District Director Alberto G. Alvarado praised Mr. and Mrs. Lara for their accomplishments stating, “Humberto and Mercedes Lara epitomize the immigrant entrepreneur. They had to struggle to achieve each phase of their dream, but fortunately were endowed with the vision and the stick-to-it-tive-ness to persevere, and to seek the appropriate assistance. We are proud of what they have achieved for themselves, their family, and for Maywood and the surrounding community.”
Las Trancas Restaurant contact information:
5351 Atlantic Boulevard
To find out more about SBA Loan Programs and Services visit the Agency’s user friendly web site www.sba.gov or call one of the following Economic Development Specialists at the SBA’s Los Angeles District Office:
- Sandra Buck (818) 552-3308
- Chuck Edgington (818) 552- 3241
- Barbara Madel (818) 552-3314
- Fernando Olivares (818) 552 -3256
The U.S. Small Business Administration recently announced the Los Angeles District Office winners of their annual Small Business Week Awards competition. The Los Angeles SBA Office covers Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties. James E. “Jim” Whitney of Burbank-headquartered First State Bank of California was selected as the 2004
Financial Services Advocate of the Year.
The Award was presented to Mr. Whitney at the SBA’s 23rd Annual Small Business Week Awards Luncheon held on Tuesday, May 25, 2004 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The luncheon was presented by Bank of America and was co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and the SBA.
James E. Whitney, Senior Vice President and Manager of the SBA Loan Division at Burbankbased First State Bank of California, was acknowledged as Financial Services Advocate for his tireless efforts to advance small business lending, particularly to the underserved and emerging markets. For more than three decades, Mr. Whitney has sponsored and obtained approval for SBA guarantees with an aggregate value of $200 million utilized by approximately 1,000 small businesses.
Mr. Whitney is the co-founder of the National Association of Government Guaranteed lenders (NAGGL), the SBA lenders’ trade group, and is currently honored with Director Emeritus status. He also serves on boards of entities engaged in small business financing and in various other phases of economic development.
Jim Whitney was also selected as one of the SBA’s National Champions at the Agency’s National Small Business Week Expo which was held in Orlando, Florida May 19th -21st. This
honor carries much prestige, since there are only 10 Champions nation-wide, and Jim was the only Champion from banking and finance.
“We are extremely proud of Mr. Whitney’s accomplishments,” stated Los Angeles SBA District Director Alberto G. Alvarado. “He has perennially been a stalwart supporter of the Agency’s mission to provide capital access to the underserved small business community. Jim’s dedication to “make a difference” to minority and veteran borrowers is manifested in his personal involvement with more than a dozen organizations which foster the cause of entrepreneurship. He is a true Champion”.
James E. Whitney is available for interviews. Call Frank Brancale at (818) 552-3203.