Mothers play a vital role in the life of their children, but what is a mother to do when she can’t take away her own child’s pain and discomfort caused by wearing a back brace? For one Mid-Michigan mother, nothing short than developing an undergarment bodysuit for her child who was born with scoliosis!
In early 2008, Tina Beauvais’ then six-year old daughter was diagnosed with a 25 degree curvature of her spine from the effects of scoliosis and in just a few short months her daughter’s curve increased to 45 degrees and required the full-time use of a Spinecor brace. The brace was bulky, uncomfortable, and chaffed her daughter’s delicate skin. It also made it impossible for the young girl to go the restroom without assistance.
“I knew with my engineering/manufacturing background there must be something I can do for her and others who have to wear similar braces,” said Beauvais. Shortly after, she developed her first undergarment bodysuit for protect girls. When her son was diagnosed in 2009 with the same disease, she developed a male version of the bodysuit.
Beauvais began promoting her undergarment bodysuit online via her family blog – Scoliosis Family Adventures, while securing a provisional patent on the undergarment. Embraced in Comfort, LLC was born!
One of her first calls was to the SBA funded Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center where she began working one-on-one with their business consultants and attending training workshops. She also participated in their 9-week long business planning program – FastTrac® NewVenture™. “Working with the MI-SBTDC gave me the extra confidence I needed to overcome the hurdles of business planning and launching a business,” said Beauvais.
Beauvais has come a long way since she began making her undergarment bodysuits in the corner of a spare room in her family’s home. She now has an official home office with production space, hired employees, expanded her product line, served as a guest speaker at the Great Lakes Bay Region SBA Small Business Outreach Tour and, most recently, received notice that her patent on the structure of the bodysuits has been approved and published.
“It has been such an amazing journey working with Tina and watching a concept grow into a business that can serve others as well,” said Kris McArdle, MI-SBTDC Certified Business Consultant. “She is a great example of an entrepreneurial mother as she continues to find the best practices for improving her product line, educating others about scoliosis treatments, and managing her business.”
When Tony Carusso walked into a Camp Bow Wow franchise in 2007, he knew his life was about to change. The leasing company he worked for was closing and Tony was contemplating his next move. “When I saw happy dogs playing side by side, I just felt that I belonged in this business,” said Carusso. Only 29 when he started, Carusso says, “It was the best move of my life.”
Armed with a cash bonus, retirement funds, and the determination to succeed, Carusso went looking for a bank loan to help him purchase his own franchise. As the recession deepened and credit tightened in 2007, Carusso worried whether he’d be able to get a loan. But the self-proclaimed numbers geek put together a thorough business plan with financial projections that impressed the bank.
The company received an SBA 504 loan for $413,000 and an SBA guaranteed loan for $183,200. “The process was easy and the SBA did a great job,” said Carusso.
The Colorado-based franchise was the perfect match for Carusso, who is a strong proponent of the all-day play concept that sets the company apart. The opportunity to own Camp Bow Wow allows Carusso to combine his passion for dogs and good business sense. And it has given him the chance to work with dog shelters and animal adoption societies and give back to his community.
As he looks to expand his business, he reflects on where he’s been over the last five years. “I’ve met so many people because of this business. I’ve built relationships. This place has become like a family. Thanks to the SBA, I’m living my passion.”
During the Senior PGA (SPGA) Championship presented by KitchenAid at Harbor Shores local small business owner Dan Harbison of Rover Security Guard Agency, was contracted as the security contractor for the SPGA. Rover Security is a licensed and bonded security firm located in Benton Harbor and has been providing security services since 1986.
Due to this tremendous opportunity Dan found himself facing a temporary expansion of his normal staffing of 10 to 15 security guards to an additional 100 people for the two week engagement. Not only was Dan faced with quickly screening, hiring, and training staff he also needed to make sure a mechanism was in place to cover the additional payroll cost. Dan knew he needed some assistance and sought it through area organizations.
To facilitate the hiring of as many local residents as possible, Dan turned to the Consortium for Community Development. Thanks to the assistance received, over 95% of his temporary staff were Benton Harbor area residents ranging in age from 21 to 84. The exposure gained through the SPGA has left Dan optimistic that additional work will soon materialize. Dan shared, “At least one individual has gained steady work with Rover, and if things continue as they are an additional three of the temporary hires may soon be on the payroll.”
Faced with having to manage a payroll that was the largest in Rover’s history, Dan turned to Cornerstone Alliance Small Business Services for help in supplying the thousands of dollars needed for his substantial and immediate payroll needs. Ultimately the staff at Cornerstone Alliance Small Business Services succeeded in providing a SBA Microloan for Dan. Dan said, “This was a large project for our small business to undertake. We are very grateful that we were able to overcome any obstacle that was placed before thanks to local assistance.”
By virtually all accounts, Rover’s security staff did an outstanding job during the championship and helped visitors to our area go home with a very positive impression of the region and its residents. Dan is hoping to build upon this experience and garner more special event opportunities to go along with his other security services which include home, commercial and seasonal programs. Rover also provides mobile, armed and unarmed services throughout Michigan and northern Indiana.
Rover Security Guard Services is located at 254 Colfax in Benton Harbor. Rover’s website is http://www.rsga4u.com.