A native of Louisville, KY, Kena Samuels Stith is deeply rooted in her community. Kena obtained her accounting degree from the University of Louisville. In November 1999, with an accounting degree from the University of Louisville in hand, she opened SKS Accounting & Consulting Firm, Inc. Kena’s corporate office offers comprehensive accounting and consulting services, including loan packaging, payroll, management, bookkeeping, and tax services. She also has added several tax-focused locations in Louisville and in 2004 expanded with a payroll division called Payroll Network. The Pre-Loan Business Packaging Preparation Division has been expanded as well.
Kena’s vision was to offer more than the usual accounting business, especially in the form of service, including to underserved communities of Louisville. For example, while SKS was installing a POS terminal at a local restaurant, Kena realized the owner was short on help during a lunch rush. She helped wait on those hungry customers. While most accountants would not go to such lengths for their clients, Kena Samuels Stith’s business philosophy is based on going above and beyond. That is why she opened offices in underserved African-American and Low-to-Moderate income neighborhoods in Louisville. She also believes strongly in the team concept and supporting her employees.
SKS obtained a U. S. Small Business Administration loan through an SBA microlender. Kena now works with the SBA microlender in the region, volunteering her time and sharing her business knowledge with aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners.
The SKS team has grown to 28 full and part time employees during tax season. Throughout this growth, the SBA has played an integral role. SKS expansions have been financed through four SBA guaranteed loans, and SKS has built a strong relationship with SBA and her bank, both of which continue to support SKS in its growth.
SKS has established itself as a company of excellence. A certified minority business enterprise (MBE), SKS was the recipient of the Kentucky Minority Business Council’s MBE Supplier of the Year Award, Class 1 for years 2005 and 2007. In June 2006, SKS Tax Service received the Preferred Tax Professional Award for the effort to provide the highest level of tax preparation along with e-filing and has ranked number 2 in the metro area’s top largest tax preparers in Business First for the past five years. In 2008, SKS was awarded an Inc.Credible Inc. Award by Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI), the Louisville Metro Chamber of Commerce.
Kena has a solid commitment to the development and success of small, minority businesses. In October 2005, she was appointed as a member of the Gas System Restoration Project Review Board for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and holds dual positions: secretary and minority group consumer. Several years ago, she was a recipient of the Louisville Defender Newspaper’s Minority Business Achievement Award for outstanding commitment and excellence. Currently, she holds a position on the finance committee of GLI and is on the board of directors of the Tri-State Minority Supplier Development Council, which serves Kentucky, Southern Indiana and West Virginia.
Being a visionary and having tremendous generosity, Kena is the founder of the Youth, Ethics and Skills Center, Inc. This non-profit organization is dedicated in helping disadvantaged youth recognize their potential as future leaders of Louisville.
She states “few people are given the opportunity to plant a seed and watch it grow.” Encouraging others to overcome business obstacles has proven to be extremely gratifying for her. Learn more about SKS on the web.
Mr. Donovan Wadsworth, founder of D&M Contracting, Inc., a military veteran, started the company in 2000, and, with his partner at the time, incorporated the business in 2004. Since then, the business has evolved into a full-service restoration company that provides fire, water and wind damage repair services for locally and nationally-owned insurance companies.
The innovativeness of their service and product offerings comes through both their unique specialty and their ability to provide excellent quality of work to many consumers. They employ state-of-the-art estimation software that not only produces accurate restoration estimates for customers but also contains the groundbreaking ability to produce 3-D aerial images of the anticipated finished work. Mr. Wadsworth built this business model as a way to not only offer this distinctive service but also to survive in such a challenging economy. They have received extremely positive feedback from clients.
D&M Contracting is accredited through the National Association of Home Builders, the Better Business Bureau and is certified with the Institute of Inspections, Cleaning, and Restoration. Mr. Wadsworth also was elected President of the Home Builders’ Association. Last year, the company received the award as “Small Business of the Year” from the Richmond, KY Chamber of Commerce, and this year Mr. Wadsworth was designated the 2012 SBA Kentucky Small Business Person of the Year.
Since its inception, D&M Contracting has enjoyed tremendous growth. In fact, they experienced a record-breaking year in 2009, increasing revenue by over 100% and have continued to grow at a rapid pace since then. D&M Contracting recently received a 7(a) SBA loan and is currently a client with the Eastern Kentucky University SBDC in Richmond.
D&M Contracting has also marked expansion through the hiring of more than 20 sub-contractors and five full-time employees. Including both contractors and employees, D&M Contracting has as many as 150 personnel on its payroll at any given time. Mr. Wadsworth has a vision to grow the business dramatically and is seeking additional guidance from the EKU SBDC for ways to manage that growth and maximize profit by using tools available through the SBDC and other small business resource partners, such as the Kentucky Procurement Assistance Program (KPAP), the Kentucky PTAC.
Management at D&M Contracting also believes in giving back, and the venture is heavily involved in the local community. The business is also Veteran-friendly. Aside from helping Military Veterans with all types of home modification needs through discounted contracting pricing, D&M supports a program that enables veterans to qualify for a $65,000 grant and a $6,800 grant to assist with Veterans’ home modification requirements.
Mr. and Mrs. Wadsworth have been involved in international mission work for many years and have been on mission trips to the Philippines, China, Romania, Nicaragua and Costa Rica as well as many locations across the U.S. You can find out more about D&M Contracting on the web.
Almost Home Boarding and Training, LLC and All Pets Veterinary Center, LLC are co-located in a new facility dedicated solely for pet care services. Almost Home offers pet boarding for dogs, cats, and exotic pets, Dog Day Out, Daycare, Dog Training classes and Grooming in a 10,000 square foot indoor facility. All Pets Veterinary Center offers a wide array of veterinary services, using the latest diagnostics and procedures, including Surgical, Therapeutic and Preventative services for pets in a 5,000 square foot facility.
On October 13, 2003, Katie Carman (now Katie Peckenpaugh) and Kathy Schultz talked to the Louisville SBDC about business plan coaching and financial projection assistance for a $1 million project. The loan was for land acquisition and construction costs to build a training and boarding kennel facility in Louisville. An SBDC consultant had worked with the clients to develop a solid business plan and sound financial projections. The clients submitted a business plan and loan package to several banks in 2004. Not understanding the concept or the pet care industry, the commercial banks that were approached declined financing. A specialty lending bank did approve the project later, but the land contract expired. The owners were not offered an extension and therefore lost the financing arrangement.
Armed with a new location, an additional business partner, Dr. Melissa Jewell, a veterinarian, and a desire to see their dream fulfilled, the clients reconnected with the SBDC in January 2007. The clients revised their business plan and developed new financial projections for a $2.4 million project with SBDC assistance. At this time, KKM, LLC was formed (Katie, Kathy and Missy) for the purchase of the land and building. This LLC owns both the land and the building. Using a new business model, the project encompassed a veterinary center and boarding/kennel facility. Kathy Schultz and Katie Peckenpaugh operate and own the boarding/kennel facility, Almost Home Boarding and Training, LLC and Dr. Jewell owns the veterinary business, All Pets Veterinary Center, LLC. The clients submitted their loan package to a bank in October 2007 and received approval for a 504 loan package through the local SBA CDC, Capital Access Corporation, contingent upon zoning approval for the new location. The CDC “was behind us from the very beginning. They were a tremendous help and believed in this project,” said the owners. In March 2008, the clients were featured in a Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper article discussing the zoning approval and the project. Excited about the approval, the clients expected to close on the business loan in May 2008.
An unexpected obstacle prevented the closing of the loan in June 2008. In August 2009, the clients resolved the issues and needed the financial projections revised. They worked with BB&T, an SBA Preferred Lender, to secure financing for their venture. After revising financials for the project with assistance from the SBDC, the clients submitted the loan packages and received in-house approval. Although internally approved, the clients endured even more delays. Overcoming numerous setbacks, they officially closed their loan in February 2010. The business opened at the new location in October 2010.
The owners are active members in various area business associations. They also work with the local animal rescue groups, offering training room for meetings, functions and fundraisers for animals and have helped many animal rescue associations. Because of their commitment to animals and their community, they already have won recognition for Boarding, Training and Grooming categories in the “Best of Kentuckiana” regional contest, participate in the local animal events and donate gift certificates to support animals.
Katie Peckenpaugh has an extensive background in veterinary services, was on the board of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America and volunteers for various committees of that club. Kathy Schultz has worked at several Louisville veterinary businesses and has crucial back-office skills that she performs for the company, including social media marketing. Kathy said, “Word of mouth has been the highest source of referrals for us! We think that says a lot.”