Established in 1985, K Drive Greenhouse began as a wholesale bedding plant grower serving customers in the Detroit and Chicago areas. The former owners would invite friends and neighbors in to purchase plants right from the production facility. As word of their quality and service grew, so did their retail business. In 1994 they constructed their first dedicated retail area on site. Today, K Drive Greenhouse has grown to an acre of retail sales area and still produces 95% of the product sold.
In 2006, Hollis retired after more than 50 years in the industry and sold his share of the business to Josh Bell. Josh grew up in the greenhouse business and brought not only his skills as a grower but a passion for a diversity of plants. K Drive Greenhouse now grows over 750 varieties of annuals, perennials, and flowering shrubs in order to provide customers with the best selection in the area. K Drive Greenhouse is constantly looking for the best performing new plant varieties to provide the best value for its customers. With a mix of old and new production techniques, K Drive Greenhouse strives to give its customers the quality and service they have come to depend on for the last 25 years.
Bell successfully partnered with the Michigan Certified Development Corporation and Omni Community Credit Union to obtain an SBA 504 Loan to finance the final piece of ownership of the growing operation. Today K Drive Greenhouse is a premium garden center serving Battle Creek, Albion, Lakeview, Springfield, Harper Creek, Jackson, Coldwater, Marshall and Bellevue.
Sue and Kevin Burns never dreamed that a botched batch of laundry would turn their world upside down. That’s exactly what happened when Kevin accidently washed one of Sue’s wool sweaters, rendering it useless. Unless…Sue began thinking…she could someone reuse the beautiful wool and make something for her daughter. And that was the beginning of Baabaazuzu, a little company that started from one useless article of clothing.
That was in 2007 and today, Baabaazuzu is a manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer of fashionable clothes for women. The company has received six SBA guaranteed loans to grow the business. The most recent loans, approved in 2011, helped the company with inventory and marketing. Baabaazuzu also received a State Trade and Export Promotion grant administered through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and funded by the SBA. The grant enabled the company to participate in a Canadian trade mission. The trade mission was a complete success with new export sales in both Ontario and Quebec. The couple was able to develop new manufacturing relationships and now have the tools in place to have a greater presence in the Canadian market. They also were able to identify potential barriers to entry such as translation into French. Finally, they were able to call on established accounts to reinforce those relationships.
Over the years, Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center business counselors provided substantial assistance to Sue and Kevin with marketing, and sales, financial analysis, and cost controls. The SBTDC is an SBA funded program.
The future looks bright for Sue and Kevin Burns. The will be launching a new Spring line to become less seasonal and a men's line to broaden their customer base.
Trained French pastry chef and baker, Sandy Bierlein, owner of Sweet Sandy B’s in the historic shopping district in downtown Bay City, MI has been perfecting her special recipe for success since she was a little girl.
“It all begins with love and passion,” said Bierlein. “As a child I loved watching my mom bake, as I grew older baking was my passion.” When she was in college, Bierlein made it her mission to make the best chocolate chip cookies.
As her passion for baking intensified, she learned that although many people may have a favorite food, most everyone loved sweets. She also saw how sharing a homemade treat could bring about a smile and turn a bad day around. It was then that Bierlein decided to create a plan that would take her from the kitchen of her home to a busy downtown storefront.
To be successful, Bierlein knew she had to receive professional training and enrolled in the French Pastry School in Chicago where she learned from world renowned pastry chefs. After she graduated, Bierlein worked as a Pastry in Midland, MI while experimenting with her recipes at home. She has been selling her baked goods through word-of-mouth referrals and online sales at www.sweetsandyb.com.
When Bierlein was ready to rent her first commercial kitchen, she had no idea where to start. That’s when she began working with a certified business consultant from the SBA funded Small Business and Technology Development Center. “My consultant Deb Wieland was amazing to work with,” said Bierlein. “She asked the right questions and got me on the right path in moving my business forward.”
Bierlein also needed to fund her business and turned to the Grand Rapids-based Start Garden venture capital firm that provides seed money to entrepreneurs. Experienced advisors and online voters select two entrepreneurs each week to receive funding. Bierlein won the online vote and was awarded $5,000!
“I was so overwhelmed by this precious gift of money,” stated Bierlein. “I wanted to be sure to use it wisely and effectively!” She purchased her commercial refrigerator and paid for a professional branding package. She had just enough left over to put the finishing touches on her storefront in time for her grand opening on Sept. 1, 2012. Sweet Sandy B’s is a good old-fashioned neighborhood bakery with a retro style.
Bierlein supports her community by using local ingredients and fresh fruit from area orchards. “Everything is made fresh daily - not mass produced the night before,” said Bierlein. “I listen to my customers. I get to know them, their likes and dislikes, and make sweets that are customized for them!”
With the help of SBA, Bierlein has realized her dream of business success and plans to expand her product line to include more than just baked goods.