(DES MOINES, Iowa) – In recognition of the small business community’s contributions to the American economy and society, the President of the United States designates one week each year as National Small Business Week. Scheduled for the week of May 20th of this year, Small Business Week 2012 will honor the more than 26 million small businesses in America. Since its establishment in 1963, the highlight of this annual tradition is the presentation of awards which focus on the outstanding contributions of small business persons and champions at the district, state and national levels. The U.S. Small Business Administration has named Tim Greene, of Quality Machine of Iowa in Audubon, Iowa as its 2012 Iowa Small Business Person of the Year.
Quality Machine of Iowa, Inc. grew out of a company started by Tim Greene’s father, Bill. He started Quality Machine, Inc. in 1968 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Tim worked at the company while growing up. The company survived through hard times but needed to diversify, so Bill persuaded Tim to start managing part of the business in 1983. When Bill died suddenly one year later, Tim took over the company at the age of 25.
In 1994, skilled labor was scarce in Minneapolis, plus the city's zoning laws wouldn't allow the company to increase its facilities. Tim started looking for an alternate location, and with the help of a friend, found a 45,000 square foot facility with room to grow in Audubon, Iowa. Most of the workforce relocated to Audubon but Tim retained the smaller production division in Minnesota for support. In 2004, Quality Machine, Inc. became Quality Machine of Iowa, Inc. by merging companies and making the Iowa Division the company's parent location.
Quality Machine of Iowa, Inc. is an advanced manufacturing business that does precision machining of metal parts. Its products include oxygen conversion devices, military munitions for tanks and flares for helicopters, components for OEM parts, hydraulic valves, service tools used for both agriculture and automotive equipment, and more. Some of the well-known brands that have parts made by Quality Machine of Iowa are Polaris, Toro, Arctic Cat, American Crane, Bobcat, Eaton, Owatonna Tool Co., Phillips Plastics, Fastenal, Chemring Ordnance, Day & Zimmerman and Kilgore Flares. The company indirectly exports because many of the finished products are purchased by other countries.
Tim purchased additional equipment and expanded company services in order to maintain strength within the industry. The company added over three million dollars of equipment at the Audubon plant, and redesigned the production layout to be more efficient and more competitive globally. However, all of this was costly and Tim was soon looking for a solution.
Tim found the help he needed at the North Central Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Regional Center Director Lisa Shimkat helped Tim restructure his existing debt and determine his debt service going forward. Tim has also used several SBA guaranteed loans to help put his business in a position for future success.
Currently, Quality Machine of Iowa, Inc. has 55 full-time employees with an average weekly wage of $784 and annual sales of $7,000,000. The company has a diverse set of jobs that offer great working conditions and skills advancement opportunities. Tim and his employees have had a considerable economic impact on the area's schools, businesses, and communities, plus the company pays thousands of dollars in local property taxes each year. Tim and his wife, Deda, have built a company with a positive work culture and a strong commitment to excellence.
As the 2012 Iowa Small Business Person of the Year, Tim will represent Iowa at National Small Business Week ceremonies in Washington, D.C. May 20-26, 2011 where he will compete for the National Award. Tim was nominated for this award by Lisa Shimkat, regional director of the North Central Iowa Small Business Development Center in Fort Dodge.
For more information on Small Business Week 2012, visit www.nationalsmallbusinessweek.com
Lu Spaine, an African-American business owner of the widely-known business, Zumi Collections LLC, in Des Moines, Iowa, turned her love of fabrics and vibrant colors into a shop at 42nd and University, which she fills with imported merchandise from around the world. Lu Spaine grew up in Des Moines. Her West Coast career in computers came to an end due to corporate downsizing so she started a business in Los Angeles. When her mother fell ill back home, she moved her business home, too. She sells women’s clothing, accessories, home decor and Fair Trade products from Africa, Southeast Asia and South America. Spaine was one of the 20 “ready for growth” small business owners chosen to participate in the 2011 SBA E-200 program through the Des Moines District SBA office. The program allowed her to take an in-depth, long term look at her business in order to navigate both temporary challenges and rapid growth.
Entrepreneur Lu Spaine and Region 7 SBA Administrator talk about her experience with the SBA’s E-200 Program earlier this year in Des Moines.
Salute to Black History Month…
Successful Des Moines Businesswoman Still Improving on Her Passion
From left to right in photo are: Terry Branstad, Governor of Iowa; Gina Blean; Kelly Heysinger; Pat Brown-Dixon, SBA Region 7 Administrator; and Joseph Folsom, SBA Des Moines District Director.
Iowa Small Business Persons of the Year
Kelly Heysinger and Gina Blean, Co-Owners
Unified Therapy Services, Inc.
Kelly and Gina's motto is "Together We Can Make A Difference."
Unified Therapy Services, a pediatric-focused outpatient clinic offering physical, occupational, and speech therapy services, opened its doors in 2006 with three therapists, a staff person, and a vision. Owners Kelly Heysinger and Gina Blean believed in creating a business to provide patient-centered therapy services to address specific needs. Their philosophy is to collaborate with everyone involved in the care of their client, including physicians, teachers, respite workers, parents, grandparents,and others. This teamwork helps patients achieve their goals at a more rapid pace, allowing them to function at their highest potential.
Gina and Kelly developed a strong working relationship at a clinic where they both worked together. Both had an entrepreneurial spirit and their passion matched their vision. They shared a dream about a child-friendly facility offering physical, occupational, and speech language therapy services where patients would be treated holistically.
Gina and Kelly worked with the Northeast Iowa Small Business Development Center in Dubuque, Iowa to start, beginning with the SBDC’s Smart Start class in July of 2005. After a number of customized counseling sessions, e-mails and phone calls, Gina and Kelly perfected their business plan, cash flow projections and application for financing. The SBA backed $185,000 in SBA backed in December of 2005, now paid in full.
Unified Therapy Services opened in April 2006 in a 4,000 square foot facility built to their specific needs. By the end of the year they found they neede additionally space for four full-time staff and two volunteers and a rapidly increasing client load. Three initial patients. Had become 120. By the end of 2007, seven full-time and four part-time employees needed more office space. Their team approach demanded they all be in one location. They creatively converted storage space and the staff's break room into office space and treatment areas to total 5,700 square feet.
The business' continued growth became both a blessing and an obstacle. Kelly and Gina were hiring more employees to handle their ever-increasing patient load. With advice again from the Northeast Iowa SBDC, Kelly and Gina revised their original business plan, restructured the company to include building ownership, completed new cash flow projections, negotiated a lease, invested $200,000 of their own capital, and purchased the building next door. By the end of 2008 the business employed 11 full-time and six part-time employees, and renovations of Unified Therapy Services' new facility continued.
The held a Grand Opening of their new facility on the business' three year anniversary. Today, Unified Therapy Services occupies 8,800 square feet, which includes 9 private treatment rooms, a large gym, and a simulated apartment. They have added new programs and services, including more pediatric equipment, Interactive Metronome, and Social Skills Camps. Kelly and Gina continually assess the needs of their community and its surrounding areas and have worked hard to educate themselves and their gifted staff to meet those needs.
In 2009 Gina and Kelly recognized a growing number of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders on their caseload. Through research they determined that intensive, in-home therapy is the most beneficial method of treating this diagnosis. These services can be very costly and the average family in Dubuque would not be able to afford such needed services. With this realization, they partnered with a local college and applied for an educational grant that would pay for them to develop an intensive, team-based, in-home program and begin its implementation.
Advocating for these patients, the two went to Des Moines to meet with state legislators and spoke locally with representatives about the needs of the families their business serves. Currently many health care agencies are limiting the number of individuals they will serve that have state-funded medical insurance, due to the reimbursement; Kelly and Gina will not do that.
They believe every patient deserves the same treatment, and that is the way their business operates. Their billing department works with their clients' families, researches grants for assistance, helps the families complete necessary paperwork, and provides contacts with them for state funded waivers as appropriate. For their business to continue to grow and maintain this generous philosophy, they have had to be creative to keep that dream alive. In 2009 they received a 5% cut from Medicaid reimbursement; this cut was significant as 72% of their patients have Medicaid coverage. They watched many companies similar to theirs, and larger, cut staff and limit the patients they would treat with this coverage. The two women spent many hours making adjustments to the company's budget to continue to provide the same high quality therapy and not allow the adjustments to affect their patients or their employees' hours, salary and benefits.
Kelly and Gina's passion for helping is very strong; they continue to search for financial assistance for the families who desperately need their intensive, in-home autism program and are working on plans for a satellite clinic to lessen driving time for some of their patients and their families.
Unified Therapy Services' economic impact during its years of operation has been phenomenal. Seventeen full-time and seven part-time jobs were created, with a payroll over $780,000 with insurance benefits. State withholding taxes in excess of $65,000 and federal taxes in excess of $100,000 were paid, and their business generated over $1,250,000 in revenue. This economic impact can be expected to grow by 50 percent in the next few years with their proposed addition of a satellite clinic.
Gina and Kelly know the value of their employees and offer a benefits package of medical, dental, vision, and prescription insurance, paid-time off, sick days, holiday pay, bereavement pay, short-term disability, long-term disability, company-funded life insurance, continuing education packages, personal days, licensure reimbursement, and a retirement plan,. In 2011 they plan to implement paid volunteer time. Kelly and Gina feel it is important to give back to their community; they do so individually, as a company, and they encourage their staff to do so as well.
Gina and Kelly have worked hard to make Unified Therapy Services a contributing member of the Dubuque community. They participate in many Chamber of Commerce events, the Summer Bash for Kids, March Madness, Kids Expo, Community Partnerships for Protecting Children, Friends of the Community, Young Professionals, and Proudly Accessible Dubuque. This past year Gina and Kelly were approached about participating as board members for a few local non-profit organizations; this is on their agenda for 2011. Annually, United Therapy Services hosts a 5K Run/Walk for Autism that provides scholarships and camperships. They have donated time to train counselors for Camp Albrecht Acres and other summer camps for people with disabilities.
They have also conducted peer trainings for their yearly Autism specific camps, and their staff has donated time for sensory nights at Jumpin' Jane's, an indoor play center for children. Individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in therapy are welcome to observe and spend time with Unified Therapy Services staff; they also allow students to complete their internships at the clinic. These two women have opened their doors to Explorer Groups and parent support groups, as well as offering the facility to the Girl Scouts to hold their meetings. Gina, Kelly and their therapy staff have also presented educational classes for colleges and continuing education cour
The difference Gina and Kelly's partnership has made in five years is evidenced by its impact on Dubuque and surrounding region, but most signicantly, in the lives of their patients, their families and their employees.