Al Youngwerth’s parents had no idea the impact that a trip with their young son to the theater for a viewing of “On Any Sunday” would someday reshape the off-road motorcycle industry worldwide. The impressionable lad was already smitten with dirt bike riding, but to see it glamorized on the big screen left a significant imprint on his mind.
Al’s passion for motorcycling never wavered as he matured. He settled into a career as a computer engineer for a local company and spent his weekends exploring the spectacular environment surrounding his Boise home. In 2002, Al was riding his dirt bike when his clutch failed causing him to have a less enjoyable experience. Upon his return home, Youngwerth made the commitment to himself that he was going to design a better motorcycle clutch.
While maintaining his day job, Youngwerth began designing a new automatic clutch in his spare time. As he progressed, Youngwerth enlisted the help of Boise State University’s TechHelp and a local machine shop to develop the first prototype of his clutch. Within a very short period of time, Al had refined his prototype at which point he shared his success with a group of on-line motorcycling enthusiasts. The reception was overwhelming and in no time he had orders for 47 of his new “auto clutches” confirming his expectation for the demand for his new product.
At this point, Youngwerth called on his friend and owner of a local machine shop, Pro Moto Billet, to teach him how to operate CNC machines and produce his clutch. His apprenticeship served as the production run to fulfill the first order of clutches.
Inspired by the fond reception his clutch received industry-wide, Youngwerth started Rekluse Motor Sports in late 2002. Fortunately, he had owned several small businesses in the past, thus making this sometimes daunting task very manageable. Immediately, Al hired his brother to assist in the manufacturing process as he quickly assembled the necessary equipment to go into production with his personal resources and conventional financing.
In 2003, as Rekluse began to generate revenue, Youngwerth obtained an SBA 7(a) loan to use as working capital. This was not a particularly difficult task as Al was equipped with all the necessary documentation supporting the loan application.
“We were thrilled to have SBA financing available to help facilitate our growth,” recalled Youngwerth. “We knew the demand was there and we wanted to make our products available worldwide.”
Rekluse has been building on their international sales since the firm’s inception. In addition to their own innovative international marketing approach, Rekluse has taken advantage of SBA’s State Export Promotion Program offered through the Idaho Department of Commerce and the US Commercial Service’s Gold Key Matching Service.
“We are proud to be an American manufacturer, but we certainly plan to continue to seek relationships with motorcycling customers wherever there are riders,’ said Youngwerth. “We have a great team here in Boise and based on our growth, Rekluse will be doing its part to support the economic recovery through increased employment for some time to come.”
Children’s Therapy Place (CTP) was started in 2001 by Sondra McMindes after relocating to Boise from her native state of Florida. Sondra had built a successful children’s speech therapy business in Florida, but family issues required her to move to Idaho. Shortly after arriving in Boise, Sondra started collecting information on the speech therapy market in Idaho. What she identified was an alarming trend in Idaho’s underserved communities – schools were often unable to obtain skilled service providers for students requiring speech, physical and occupational therapy. Believing location shouldn’t prevent children from educational success, Sondra McMindes started Children’s Therapy Place out of her home and began traveling to school districts up to 50 miles away to help kids.
As her niche business grew, McMindes assembled a team of highly skilled therapists who shared her vision and love for children. Her small army of physical, occupational and speech therapists provided home visits for children in the government funded Infant-Toddler program and in underserved communities in rural Idaho.
Within two years, CTP had experienced sufficient growth to justify relocating to a small, leased office location and McMindes was already developing strategies for expansion. As technology opened new opportunities, McMindes began exploring how the internet and telecommunications could improve services for children in underserved areas across the country. In 2008, CTP became one of the first national providers of teletherapy services, delivering online speech/language and occupational therapy services for children from Florida to Washington.
In ten years, CTP has grown from its initial offering of speech/language services in school districts to a full service therapy company with clients nationwide. The firm has experienced an exponential progression of increased revenues with more than 75 therapists and support staff employed at CTP.
CTP’s rapid growth is the result of Sondra McMindes’ qualifications as a highly skilled speech therapist in addition to her ability to assemble a team of business experts in disciplines she lacks. Since 2001, McMindes has been a client of the Idaho Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and continues to rely on their expertise for all facets of business growth. Regularly, McMindes participates in joint mentoring groups with the SCORE counselors to gain depth and perspective in critical business decisions. The SBDC has coordinated student interns to helped CTP with business policies and practices, conducted research on new and developing markets, studied new product lines and developed tactical and financial budgets. This positive relationship has allowed McMindes to focus on the core services CTP offers while developing her business acumen from local SBA resource partners.
Sondra McMindes is committed to the development of the speech therapy profession in support of her passion for children. She has taken on a leadership role in Idaho State University’s Department of Communications Sciences and Disorders. Besides teaching coursework to undergraduate students and providing clinical supervision for graduate students, CTP regularly provides both internships and externships for graduate students. On the state level, McMindes is actively involved in the Idaho Speech, Language and Hearing Association having served on the executive board for the last six years. She is currently the immediate past president of this organization. One of her significant accomplishments was to help secure licensure for speech pathologists in the state of Idaho. On the national level, McMindes has been an active member of the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association her entire career.
Some entrepreneurs dream big. Some entrepreneurs work tirelessly. Entrepreneur Corrine McKague, owner of Alarmco Inc., doesn’t know the word no. McKague came by it honestly as her she watched her father run a successful security business for many years.
In 1995, Corrine McKague and her husband Charles started Alarmco, Inc. to service small commercial and residential clients with security, fire and closed–circuit television systems. “We had the expertise,” recalls McKague, “But what really motivated us was our passion for the security industry and a vision for a sound business model.”
Traditionally, the security industry is dominated by large firms providing expensive, often impersonal, service. In building Alarmco, the McKague’s made their personal commitment to exceed client’s expectations, thus gaining repeat business and word of mouth referrals. This approach worked very well as local commercial accounts turned into national accounts with giants like Boise Cascade, Office Max and Grainger. Likewise, Alarmco’s offerings expanded to include design-build services for these larger, commercial customers.
In 2003, Alarmco decided to expand their customer base once again by targeting U.S. government facilities. McKague was aware of how challenging it is to “break into” selling to the government so she decided to pursue the SBA 8(a) Business Development certification.
“Before pursuing 8(a) certification I did my homework to make sure it would be worthwhile for Alarmco. What I found was there was a large demand for the services we provide not only locally, but nationally as well,” said Corrine. In October of 2003, Alarmco received word they had been certified by the SBA and she immediately started looking for contracting opportunities.
“We poured a lot of hours into making contacts and our commercial background helped convince wary contracting officers of our ability to deliver,” said McKague. And, it wasn’t long before Alarmco was awarded their first federal project with the U.S Army Corps of Engineers. “It was a real learning experience completing our first federal project and in the end the government got a great product.”
Alarmco has never looked back. Relying on their excellent past performance, Alarmco’s federal customers include the Department of the Navy, National Park Service, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Bureau of Land Management and the National Guard nationwide. Last year, Alarmco was awarded a contract to upgrade the security system at our national treasure, Mt. Rushmore National Monument.
Corrine McKague is a hands-on entrepreneur; her positive attitude in infectious. Her continued commitment of customer satisfaction makes Alarmco a real success story for Idaho.
“We recently received an SBA 7(a) loan for working capital to implement this new technology and have already hired four new employees,” McKague stated proudly. “We’re nowhere near capacity yet and with the help of the SBA we’ll just keep growing.”