James (Jim) Hellbusch, President, and Connie Hellbusch, Treasurer, of Duo Lift Manufacturing Company, Inc. located in Columbus, Nebraska has been named the Nebraska Small Business of the Year for 2009.
Duo Lift Manufacturing Company, Inc. is a family-owned manufacturer of agricultural equipment primarily for the fertilizer industry as well as commercial and industrial trailers.
The company was founded in 1943 by Jim’s father, Art Hellbusch, a Columbus-area farmer who suffered a back injury during corn harvest season. After injuring his back scooping corn, Art traded in his scoop shovel after developing a wagon lift fashioned out of pulleys and cables. The lift boosted the wagon’s box and grain poured out the back. It wasn’t until 1946, after hydraulic power was put to use that the small business arrived at its name. After the wagon lifts had been converted with two hydraulic lifts, Art’s wife, Vernetta, suggested the name Duo Lift because of the wagon’s two cylinders.
Jim Hellbusch joined the family business in 1969 after graduating from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with a degree in industrial arts and engineering. Jim continued to build up this business while operating the family farm, and it wasn’t until the 1980’s that the company designed and manufactured its first trailers for the fertilizer industry.
The fertilizer trailers and running gears are the signature products of Duo Lift, but they also have a patent on Dura-Drill soil sampler which can sample soil in frozen and unfrozen soil. Other products include de-icing equipment, specialized commercial trailers for heavy equipment and customized van trailers, to name a few.
Duo Lift is known throughout the industry as a manufacturer of high quality equipment with special emphasis on safety. The company has distributors throughout the United States and Canada and currently employs 75 people operating in three shifts.
There are a lot of Ideas for Green Energy, and an Omaha-area Company is Putting One of Those Ideas Into Place Geothermal Green Team is a 10-person engineering firm working out of a cramped office on the second floor of a warehouse in Gretna, NE. They’ll never feel comfortable in cubicles, and their meetings are out in the mud at a busy job site, with boots and work shirts instead of oxfords and ties. Glancing around their dimly-lit office with the dingy floor, wall decorated with a large white board, progress of jobs scrawled seemingly haphazardly, these guys seem at first unlikely to be on the cutting edge of renewable technology.
Here’s how they end up saving their customers an average of 30 percent or more off their energy bills. Drilling several holes 500 feet into the near-constant 50-degree ground, the team stretches a length of polyethylene pipe from the structure to the surrounding soil and back. While a common air conditioner in the steamy Nebraska summer draws the fetid air inside to be cooled, the savings from geothermal is found circulating the cooler ground temperatures.
“The winter is actually when you save the most,” said Tyler Volk, the company’s president, and a veteran of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear power program. Instead of drawing in the icy cold air and asking a heat pump to warm it to a comfortable degree, “the ground source is just more efficient.”
The team tackles residential jobs, larger commercial buildings, schools, hospitals, churches, and wherever there is a need to save energy costs with geothermal technology. They have been in business for the past two years following success as an independent subcontracting firm for a geothermal utility company.
Seeking to expand the business, Geothermal Green Team got a 7(a)-backed loan under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in July from the Bank of Nebraska to the tune of $285,000 for a line of credit to meet payroll. Then, in October, they obtained another 7(a) loan for $553,000 from Wells Fargo to purchase a new sonic drill.
The track-mounted sonic drill boasts a drill vibrating 180 times a second, “fluidizing,” according to Volk, anything from dirt, sand, gravel and rock, and shoving the polyethylene pipe deep into the ground. This new rig, Volk explained, does jobs other drills don’t like to do.
“With this rig, we estimate to do a million and a half to two million a year in additional revenue,” Volk said. “If everything goes the way I plan it, we should be buying another sonic drill here by the end of the year. The work is there. We just gotta get more SBA loans.”
The new drill means more jobs for Geothermal Green Team, enough, Volk said, that the company expects to hire four or five more employees to help handle it.
Thanks to the help of the SBA, Geothermal Green Team is taking renewable energy ideas, using green technology to save energy costs and preserve natural resources.
James Bowen and Nick Bock, and their company, Five Nines Technology Group, LLC, located in Lincoln, NE., have been named the Nebraska Small Business of the Year for 2010 by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
The information technology firm was nominated for the honor by Marisol Rodriguez, Director, Nebraska Business Development Center, Lincoln, NE.
“Five Nines mission is bringing business intelligence and a passion for technology to every client interaction,” say Bowen and Bock.
Five Nines is an information technology company providing managed services, IT support, and consulting services to small- and medium-sized businesses in the Midwest.
Their company name is a nod to a measure of computer operating system reliability of 99.999 percent, which translates to a total downtime of only five minutes and fifteen seconds per year.
An SBA-backed line of credit from Cornhusker Bank in December 2008 was crucial to drive continued growth of a small business that has to date retained more than 95 percent of its clients.
According to a March 2010 study by the SBA Office of Advocacy, over a recent 15-year period, small businesses created a conservative estimate of 65 percent of net new private sector jobs nationwide.
From their two locations in Lincoln and Omaha, and with their 25-person team, Five Nines has successfully leveraged information technology resources to help more than 250 area companies reach their business objectives.
Five Nines enjoyed a 71 percent increase in revenues its first year before hitting 100 percent growth in 2008. Weathering the recession with growth of 33 percent for 2009, Five Nines continues to strengthen trust and strong relationships with its clients, “going against the grain,” as they put it, customizing a unique solution for its customers in a market that often provides generic IT services.
Bowen and Bock especially are proud of strong position in providing IT solutions for area health care and financial services providers. The firm has earned laudatory testimonials for work saving 60 percent on power costs for a local bank by using “virtual” servers; another customer praised the company for its cost-effective and customer-friendly solutions.
But ask Bowen and Bock how they describe success, and you won’t get anything about growth or net profits – they’ll answer that success is helping their clients achieve their business goals.
Bowen graduated in May 1999 from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a degree in computer science while working as a network and systems administrator for Innovative Technologies/Corpnet Security before moving on to Physicians Laboratory Services as a senior network and systems administrator.
Beginning in 2001, Bowen served as owner for Binary Net, an internet service provider and data center in Lincoln; one year later, as he continued his duties as owner of Binary Net, he began his own consulting firm, providing services throughout the Midwest for high-level network and security design and systems administrator needs.
In 2006, Bowen joined Bock to found Five Nines Technology Group. He currently serves on the board of directors for the area chapter of the March of Dimes and is a Teammates mentor in Lincoln.
Bock graduated from Union College in Lincoln in May 1998 with a history degree and a minor in education and computers before taking a position with the Nebraska Heart Institute in IT support. He moved on to serve as IT director for the Nebraska Urban Indian Medical Center in 2002 and subsequently worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative for Pfizer.
In 2004, Bock founded Nebraska IT, a client-focused IT support and counseling firm serving Lincoln and Omaha. Within three years, the company boasted of more than 100 clients and $400,000 in annual revenue, and led the way in providing IT services to health care organizations in Lincoln.
Three years later, Bock joined Bowen to start Five Nines. Bock is on the board of directors for the Lincoln Childrens Museum, a member of the school board for SDA Schools of Lincoln, and a Union College BCS mentor.