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Los Angeles District Office
330 North Brand Suite 1200
Glendale, CA 91203
United States
Phone: 818-552-3201

CHARO-SBA Women’s Business Center Fashions Success Plan To Assist Women Owned Public Relations Firm

There is a growing need for technical assistance to accommodate the dramatically increasing formation of business enterprises in the greater Los Angeles area. In its last fiscal year, the Los Angeles District Office (LADO) of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) financed 4,600 small businesses in the amount of $1billion. To support a capital access program of this magnitude LADO is proud to rely on a varied network of technical assistance providers, who often shepherd the individual entrepreneur through myriad obstacles related to all loan processes. Los Angeles SBA District Director, Alberto G. Alvarado confirmed the value of the Agency’s resource partners saying, “Without SCORE, the SBDCs, Women’s Business Center, and our many other important resource partners, we could not possibly serve the number of small businesses that we reach out to on an annual basis. These entities are the technical assistance work horses, through whose collaboration the SBA’s mission goals are met”.

SCORE stands for the Service Corp of Retired Executives. Its members, retired executives who have had illustrious careers with leading business organizations, volunteer their time pro bono to assist aspiring entrepreneurs and start-up business owners. Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) offer consulting, technical assistance and business training, on a gratis basis to the SBA’s constituent clientele. Both entities are funded through the SBA.

The Los Angeles District recently added a third jewel to its technical assistance crown. To specifically aid in the SBA’s initiative to foster the growth of woman owned business in the Southland, the Agency recently funded the CHARO-SBA Women’s Center. To understand how a business can benefit from an association with this new organization, witness the case of Fem Public Relations (Fem PR), a PR firm with a particular focus on the fashion industry.

Fem PR was established by Melinda Smith and Sharon Helfand to address the promotional needs of promising apparel, cosmetics, accessory, and footwear lines. The Toluca Lake based firm offers a full range of fashion oriented public relations services. If an up and coming cosmetic s business is in need of a press kit, or would like a special event planned to celebrate a new fragrance launch, then a visit with Smith and Helfand is in order. Fem PR is also expert at image consulting, as well as wardrobe and editorial placements.

In need of working capital, Fem PR initially contacted the SBA. The firm was triaged and immediately referred to the CHARO-SBA Women’s Center for evaluation and assistance. Marlyn Garcia, the LOS ANGELES PRESS OFFICE center’s business development officer (BDO), provided Melinda Smith and Sharon Helfand with a loan assessment and a detailed business evaluation. Ms. Garcia impressed upon the women entrepreneurs the importance of having a viable business plan that is founded upon realistic business assumptions as a major component of the loan package. She also counseled them on the firm’s revenues and costs and instructed the business owners on cash flow and debt service.

Through the CHARO-SBA WBC’s instruction and guidance, Fem PR successfully completed its business plan and became loan ready. Having completed this phase of the process, the company was prepared for capital access. They were helped with the loan paperwork which the WBC then processed for an SBA Express Loan.

Fem PR received its much-needed working capital. However, it also came away from the CHAROSBA Women’s Center with something extra. It seems that one of the WBC’s former clients was a maternity clothing line that planned to take its business to another level and desired public relations assistance. As a result, both entities were matched and Fem PR gained a new client in addition to a loan.

SBA District Director Alvarado voiced his praise for entrepreneurs Smith and Helfand particularly for their wisdom and initiative to seek out appropriate help stating, “They advanced their cause by researching and availing themselves of the SBA’s network of small business resources. Because they now have a known resource entity in the form of CHARO-SBA Women’s Center and an established consulting relationship with Marlyn Garcia, they have greatly improved their chances for continued success in their business endeavors.”

For additional information on Fem Public Relation Services, please contact Melinda Smith or Sharon Helfand at (818) 753-1753, or you may visit their website at

To find out more about SBA Loan, Technical Assistance and other Programs and Services visit the Agency’s user friendly web site 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
  • Juan Urbina (818) 552- 3244

To contact SCORE for a business consult, please call (818)552-3206. Additional information is available at the SCORE web site.

SBA Loan Makes Wienerschnitzel Franchisee Top Dog In Neighborhood

What will a single father of two teenagers do to appease their yen for Wienerschnitzel hotdogs? A resident of Pico Rivera for many years, Ron Beilke had to pack his family into the van and trek to any one of several surrounding communities to enjoy these mouth-watering morsels. During these periodic food runs Ron often daydreamed about how wonderful it might be to have a Wienerschnitzel in his neighborhood. After much rumination he came to the conclusion that his city possessed the demographics that could certainly support its own Wienerschnitzel franchise.

But who would be committed enough to insure a successful restaurant project? Would he not be the best person for the job? After all, Ron was no stranger to the fast food industry, and he was fully acquainted with of the many challenges associated with a start-up restaurant. He had successfully operated five Chucke Cheese Pizza Time Theaters during a four year time span, and he had been a Multi-store Manager for Carl’s Jr. In addition, Ron had a solid understanding of general business principles and a sound foundation in accounting attributable to his BS Degree from San Diego State University. After much soul searching, followed by a full feasibility study, the spirit of the true entrepreneur manifested itself in Ron. He knew that he should be the one to take the risk and he set out to find an appropriate site and make his dream a reality!

Ron was not the slightest bit Quixotic in his quest. He remained focused and maintained his resolve throughout the planning process. Not one for slip-shod work, Ron spent an inordinate amount of time working out the details and developing an effective reality-based business plan. Every part of the project had to be perfect. His site selection process, alone, took more than 6 months. Things were proceeding well until he hit the proverbial “brick wall,” which in Ron’s case appeared in the form of major hurdles surrounding project financing.

It could be said that start-up fast food projects are difficult for bankers to digest. As a rule, 9 out of 10 suffer setbacks or go out of business within a year of opening. To make it worse, Ron’s deal called for the construction of the building that would eventually house the restaurant operations. This led to the need for a much greater loan amount than that required by the usual start-up business and, in turn, dramatically increased the risk to be borne by the prospective bank.

As a result, Ron soon experienced the frustrations that often accompany a request for financing that doesn’t quite fit the financial industry norm for straight forward underwriting by a bank. To compound matters he soon became fearful that his location might be bought out from underneath him. Yet, his fear did not paralyze him, but only served to goad him on with more determination and a clearer vision. Recognizing that his site was in the 38th District, Ron quickly sought the support of Congresswoman Grace Napolitano. Known for her untiring efforts to champion small business growth and capital access, Congresswoman Napolitano quickly arranged for Ron Beilke to meet with SBA Los Angeles District Office (LADO) Director, Alberto G. Alvarado, in an attempt to salvage the deal.

Under Director Alvarado’s guidance, Ron’s capital needs were re-evaluated. His loan package was re-tailored to provide better support for the major lending criteria. His project assumptions were also reworked, which resulted in improved cash flow. As a result of a number of refinement sessions with various departments at the SBA District Office, Ron’s project was soon strengthened to the point that Comerica Bank agreed to underwrite a $750, 000 SBA 7(a) loan and Ron was on his way.

He first underwent an 8-week training program which involved working under different operations at actual locations, where Ron learned additional fine details about Wienerschnitzel. He learned that it had been in existing for over 40 years with approximately 365 stores in its franchise universe, and that the Chili recipe had never been tampered with and it still tasted the same as it did when Ron was a boy. Mixed in with this operations training was expansive class room learning. This included efficient product unit costing, break-even analysis, cash flow and profit accounting, and forecasting. Ron passed with flying colors and was ready.

Ron Beilke opened the doors on September 21st, 2002 and broke a Franchise record for the largest opening day sales revenue! His first year sales propelled him into the elite 30 of the highest producing sites in the United States. His site selection, a mere 2 minutes from his home, turned out to be most fortuitous. His dream was fulfilled. There’s a Wienerschnitzel now in his neighborhood and Ron Beilke is “top dog.”

But Ron’s success story does not just end there; it continues. It is reflected in the 20 jobs that Ron’s restaurant provides to the Pico Rivera community. It manifests itself in the fact that many of his employees have health insurance, a large part of the cost of which is subsidized by Ron’s generosity. It is further apparent in the continued patronage of Ron’s loyal customers who either, drive-through for take-out, or prefer to enjoy a value packed meal on-site in the spacious dining area. To share the sweet taste of Ron’s success, when in Pico Rivera visit his Wienerschnitzel at 6749 S. Rosemead Boulevard, (562) 949-3040 and enjoy a Tastee-Freez chased by a chili dog.

Los Angeles SBA District Director, Alberto Alvarado offered praise saying, “Ron Beilke possesses that bull dog tenacity that is the basis for success in entrepreneurial ventures. Ron will always be the paragon for aspiring franchisees.” Ron is very proud of his accomplishments; nevertheless, he is eager to point out that it would not have happened without Congresswoman Napolitano, Comerica, and the SBA.
With respect to the latter, Ron has become a stalwart supporter of the SBA and readily recommends the Agency’s loan programs and services to other aspiring entrepreneurs. At a recent SBA outreach event, Ron described how the agency helped him achieve his dreams and expressed his gratitude, saying with enthusiasm, “Without the SBA I would have no reason to address you today. It is only because the Los Angeles SBA Team were willing to think outside of the box, that I was able to successfully undertake and complete a loan project of such magnitude. I am truly grateful to the SBA for their outstanding service and for their faith in this small business owner.”

To learn how the SBA can assist you with respect to financing your franchise opportunity, or to learn more about SBA Loan Programs and Services visit the SBA’s user friendly web site or contact one of the following SBA Economic Development Specialists at the Los Angeles District Office:

  • Sandra Buck (818) 552-3308
  • Chuck Edgington (818) 552- 3241
  • Barbara Madel (818) 552-3314
  • Fernando Olivares (818) 552 -3256
  • Juan Urbina (818) 552- 3244

SBA Loans Help Whittier Business

Country Fresh Market, located in Historical Uptown Whittier, is a true success story. The specialty retailing food store is the brain child of Pete and Devon Jimenez and was started with proceeds from an SBA Pre-Qualification Loan, funded by Bank of America. A subsequent SBA guaranteed credit line was provided by B of A to help with working capital and operational needs.

Whittians flock to Country Fresh to avail themselves of the freshest vegetables, expertly butchered meat, bountiful grocery items, and many Hispanic Specialty items. Denizens from the surrounding municipalities rave incessantly about the homemade salsa, guacamole and heavenly carne asada; thus, the store has become a one stop gormandized excursion. Its regulars find the 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. 7 days a week very convenient and feel welcomed by the family-owned atmosphere and friendly customer service.

The market captures the essence of Trader Joe’s but with a Latin Touch. Its Hispanic delicacies are constantly in demand by Angelinos who have moved out of state or to Canada. Ever the entrepreneurs, Pete and Devon have capitalized on this demand. They continue to satisfy it via their highly active web site coupled with an efficient shipping department that uses multiple methods to guaranty over night freshness upon delivery.

Country Fresh has earned a significant amount of prestige for the enterprising couple. It has been profiled on TV several times, with the most notable coverage occurring on the Food
Network Show called Food Finds. The market was touted as one of the up and coming enterprises, and accordingly was named the Best Small Business in Whittier. In addition, the
physical plant received an award for being the Best Historical Renovation in Whittier. Kudos are also in order for the 15 jobs that were created by these two risk takers who were not afraid to assume debt to achieve their aspirations. Country Fresh Market is located at 7601 Greenleaf Ave, Whittier, CA 90602, (562) 696-1921.

Los Angeles District Director Alberto Alvarado reiterates a theme common to many small businesses in his tri-county service area. “The Jimenez family epitomizes the true meaning of the word entrepreneur”, cites Mr. Alvarado. “They willingly assumed the risk of debt to leverage their assets, and consequently are entitled to enjoy the fruit of their labor”. The director further added, “We must additionally recognize the fact that Whittier also benefited from their ingenuity by virtue of the new jobs that Country Fresh created in the community.”

For additional information on SBA Loan Programs and Services call the Los Angeles District Office at (818) 552-3201 or visit the SBA’s user friendly web site at

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