From dry goods to diamonds, it’s all in the family. Henry E. “Hank” Davis recounts how four generations of Davis’ forged a family business from its earliest days as a circa 1920’s general store to a new millennium purveyor of the very finest jewelry. Over 80 years ago, Henry and Freda Davis founded the Davis family business in downtown Louisville. Their store occupied several different locations in the city’s business district, including a move necessitated by construction of a new interstate. A major metamorphosis occurred in 1998 after Hank Davis, grandson of the founders, enrolled in a strategic planning program offered by Greater Louisville Inc. – The Metro Chamber of Commerce. Through this program, Hank learned that 70% of his business came from 35% of his clients, and 80% of that client base lived within a five mile radius of a suburban site on the east side of Louisville that company leadership decided to acquire. Davis used two Small Business Administration loans to finance his move: the 504 and the 7(a) loan programs. The 504 loan program provides long-term, fixed-rate financing to small businesses to acquire major fixed assets, such as land, buildings, and equipment. Under SBA’s 7(a) program, loan proceeds can be used for most small business purposes. SBA guarantees the loans that banks make to borrowers, allowing the lender some additional flexibility. A Certified Development Company (CDC) located in Louisville was instrumental in working with a regional SBA lender to arrange the 504 program financing to build the new flagship jewelry store. Davis stated that “…to borrow a significant amount of money in today’s world, small businesses should use the SBA.” Subsequently, Davis decided to sell the downtown property and needed different financing options. A local SBA community bank worked with Davis Jewelers to obtain debt refinancing with the 7(a) loan program. Davis has nothing but praise for the process, particularly with the community bank. “I really enjoyed working with the bank. It’s been a very positive experience.” Henry and Freda Davis’ great-granddaughter, Ashley, is now the familiar face of Davis Jeweler’s, Inc. “She loves the business and has a definite passion for it,” says proud father, Hank. “I am proud to be involved in my family’s business and am focused on its continued success,” added Ashley. While the relocation and change in business strategy have worked out very well for Davis Jewelers, the company has weathered some challenging financial obstacles, including September 11, 2001 and the economic downturn of 2008 – 2011. In the wake of these obstructions, many small businesses were not able to survive. However, the shopping center where Davis Jewelers is located is in a highly visible locale that is 100% occupied, and more Class A office space is being built nearby. Davis points out that has been a “tremendous source of new business.” Today, Hank Davis reflects on the successful evolution of the family business from his grandparents’ general store, to the pawn and sporting goods store that his father, Arthur “Skip” Davis, operated, to the fine jewelry store that the third and fourth generation of Davis’ successfully manage. Hank said, “We are the first new Rolex jeweler in Louisville in 25 years and one of only two in the region. In our industry, this is the ultimate compliment. Rolex approached us, which rarely happens.” Davis Jewelers is also home to legendary American luxury designer David Yuman and his collection of fine jewelry and timepieces as well as the prestigious Forevermark diamonds. There are several sources for more information on the loan programs, counseling services and other small business services offered by SBA: your lender, www.SBA.gov and your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), SCORE Chapter or Women’s Business Center.
Joyce Green is the owner/operator of two small businesses in central Kentucky, Jordan Hill Farm, a corporate retreat and special occasion event venue, and Karizma, LLC, a full-service hair salon and spa.
Joyce grew up near Chicago and later started a hair salon in Northern Virginia, which she operated for 25 years. Yearning for a less hectic pace, Joyce decided to sell the salon and move to a smaller community. Having no master plan, Joyce and her husband visited Kentucky in 2006, fell in love with the beauty of the Bluegrass region of the state and purchased a historic farmhouse with 85 acres of land near Richmond. Part of the house was an 1800’s era log cabin that had been enlarged over time to over 4,500 square feet. The original log home, fireplace and stairwell remain today.
Joyce met Michael Rodriguez, Director of the Eastern Kentucky University SBDC in Richmond, shortly after her move. She opened Karizma on her farm in 2007. While her first customers were neighbors and friends, Joyce now has patrons from across the region. “Sometimes a client brings a spouse, who sits in a chair in front of the salon with a laptop and enjoys the peace and tranquility. Others combine a visit for salon services with a stress-reducing walk around the property, taking in all its natural beauty including the rolling hills and nearby spring,” said Joyce.
Rodriguez helped Joyce develop a new business concept, Jordan Hill Farm, which opened on that same property in 2012. Marketed as, “a countryside venue for business and special events,” Joyce emphasizes that this is not a bed and breakfast. They have had numerous business events and retreats already, and they can host weddings and other special occasions. “I love this land, and just want to share it with others,” she said.
Joyce does not have any employees, but believes that her companies are intertwined with many other small businesses in the area. Seeing a need for support and networking for women business owners, Joyce and other women business owners recently launched Business Babes Society, which provides networking opportunities and promotion of women-owned businesses in the region. Their vision is to increase membership across the state first, then go nationwide. Business Babes Society is also raising funds to provide scholarships to deserving young women who want to study business at post-secondary institutions in Kentucky.
Joyce was recently voted President of Business Babes Society and recognized as the 2013 SBA Kentucky Woman Small Business Advocate of the Year for her service to women business owners. Asked how she is able to find the energy to operate two businesses and nurture so many strong relationships with other women business owners, Joyce said that her secret is to “Enjoy the journey as much as the destination.”
Learn more information on the loan programs, counseling services and other small business services offered by SBA from your lender, the SBA website, the Kentucky Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Kentucky SCORE Chapters or the Kentucky Women’s Business Center.
Flavorman is an international custom product development and ingredient supply company. Known as The Beverage Architects®, Flavorman is able to take a beverage concept through every phase of product development and production, from start through finish, and has developed and designed over 500 products for hundreds of companies to successfully launch in the beverage marketplace. The beverages range from energy drinks and sodas to flavored spirits and liqueurs.
Since 1992, Flavorman has been leading the industry as a single source partner in beverage product development. Clients range from start-up entrepreneurs to major international players in the global beverage market. Their 24,000 square-foot headquarters houses one of the largest full-service beverage product development facilities in the United States, including a state-of-the-art, fully equipped laboratory, warehouse and production area. In-house capabilities, industry expertise and product innovation allow Flavorman to offer its clients a wide range of expert services in order to turn a great idea into revenue.
Formerly known as Pro-Liquitech, Flavorman develops products for every category in the beverage industry. The lab work, formulation, R & D, blending, shelf life testing, FDA review and quality control is all done within its facility. All samples are shipped directly from the lab, and the company works closely with clients and colleagues in the industry to manage costs and facilitate packaging and production schedules. Clients retain sole ownership of their formulation, as Flavorman has no equity position in the products that the company develops. This business model allows the company to service clients with the energy and confidentiality those clients require, without conflicting interests.
Founded in 1992 by Dave Dafoe, who had worked at Brown-Forman Corporation, one of the largest American-owned companies in the wine and spirits business, Flavorman’s first customer was Chiquita Brands and its line of fruit juices. In the mid-1990s, the Jones Soda Company had Flavorman develop their 10 original soda flavors. From there the client list grew, and to date, the company has created thousands of products, hundreds of brands, allowing hundreds of companies to achieve success in the beverage markets.
Flavorman secured two small SBA 7(a) loans in the 1990s to expand its business, and both loans have been paid in full. In 2007, the company obtained an SBA 504 loan to move from an east end industrial park to 809 South 8th Street near downtown Louisville in a HUBZone. Since that time, the company has seen a revitalization of the area, with other businesses moving to or expanding their businesses in this HUBZone area. Also, in 2010, Flavorman received an SBA ARRA loan from a local credit union.
Recently, Flavorman management acquired a former automobile garage next to its building. Named the Distilled Spirits Epicenter, this sister company will offer support to artisan distilleries, which have expanded from 143 facilities in 2006 to over 700 facilities across the country today. Grease Monkey Distillery, Moonshine University and Challenge Bottling all operate under The Epicenter, offering state-of-the-art distilled spirits equipment, expert-led classes and onsite bottling services.
“For the last 20 years we have developed every type of beverage in every beverage category for our clients to sell in the US and international markets”, says Dafoe. “It seemed intuitive to extend this knowledge and experience to the burgeoning craft distilling movement percolating in our backyard. We have the skills to put entrepreneurs into this beverage segment with our product and process development expertise while assisting large established companies through work with our pilot facilities. We are perfectly positioned to become the Epicenter for distilled spirits with centralized resources and knowledge for this beverage segment.”
During his first visit to the state of Kentucky, Cassius Butts, SBA Region IV Administrator from Atlanta, paid a visit to Flavorman. Cassius Butts said, “Flavorman is a great example of an innovative, small U.S. manufacturer that competes world-wide and creates new jobs.”
Leaders at Flavorman attribute their success to their team. The technical staff consists of flavor development specialists, flavor application specialists, flavor technicians, product development specialists, operations managers, lab technicians, and other experts, all of whom help bring innovative new beverages to market. The management team offers years of beverage industry, business, legal, international and entrepreneurial experience.
The Flavorman team also enjoys giving back to the community in which they work. Some of the organizations its employees support include Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana, StageOne Family Theatre, Junior League of Louisville, Kentucky Rescue Association, Louisville Hunger Walk, Louisville MS Center, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Miami University Alumni Association and Jefferson County Public Schools. Also, Flavorman partnered with the Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) to build an urban rain garden on its property to help with stormwater runoff. Rain gardens help capture water runoff, which can contain oil-based products, chemicals and toxic substances, before it reaches the drainage system. This rain garden improves water quality and offers an attractive setting in front of the Flavorman buildings.