In 1999 Joe Machin and Brian Edwards opened a mobile repair shop. They started the company out of their homes with one truck and two employees – themselves. After a year on the road they opened their first repair facility, RO Truck & Equipment. The company rapidly grew to a fleet of seven trucks and 38 employees. SBA guaranteed financing helped to achieve that growth.
The company was focused around truck repair for the construction industry and in the aftermath of September 11 as construction slowed, business declined and revenues dropped. The partners responded by moving to a smaller location, reducing staff and overhead.
Then they refocused their efforts, diversifying the company while staying true to their core business. Brian and Joe found working on a bus is similar to truck repair and as they marketed to this new industry with its fleets of buses and limousines, their client base expanded. In response to repeated requests from their new customer base, they became a full-line bus and limousine dealership and the company continued to grow. In 2008, with an SBA 504 loan, they purchased a building and yard to house further expansion with a new paint and fabrication shop.
When they economy turned again in 2009 and with new vehicle purchase declining , Brian and Joe found that companies were now looking to keep their existing fleets on the road. Operating budgets were intact while capital budgets were nonexistent, so RO refocused on long term maintenance, service and repair. As they realized they were the only company in Nevada specializing in buses, they shifted the business exclusively to buses, adding municipality and government agency fleets.
The company has grown from a two man operation to three distinct divisions with 21 full time employees and 11 million in revenue.
Worldwide web meets worldwide wool.
Who is Jimmy?
Jimmy is actually Laura. She and her husband Doug started Jimmy Beans in May 2002. The nickname 'Jimmy' came from a song called 'Doublewide Blues'. The song talks about a neighbor Jimmy that's so cool because he's got a blue plastic pool on the deck in front of his house. They started saying 'cool like Jimmy' and it turned into Laura’s nickname! While thinking of a name for their new business, her nickname came up and they added 'Beans' since they originally had a coffee shop inside the yarn shop. The yarn overran the store and the coffee was gone, but the name stuck!
Jimmy Beans Wool is both a bricks and mortar and an internet superstore, offering knitters worldwide a comprehensive selection of the finest yarns and knitting supplies.
In 2002, after 2 years of marriage and a life-changing move from San Francisco to Truckee, Laura and Doug emptied their savings account and opened Jimmy Beans Wool. Both had worked as software engineers during the early dot com era, but when the bottom started to fall, they opted to turn their Tahoe vacation home into their permanent home.
Laura had learned to knit just 6 months prior and was obsessed! While figuring out how to make a living in their new hometown, she picked up a job creating a website for a nearby hand-dyed yarn company. The owner of the company convinced Laura to follow her newfound passion for knitting and to create a yarn shop that could become a successful business. The rest is history…!
Laura contacted SCORE when Jimmy Beans was growing so fast that they needed to change the company structure, manage a growing staff and strengthen inventory control. SCORE mentored Laura through the changes, helped with projections and strategy and provided business coaching for the fledgling company. SCORE also put Laura in touch with local resources to help the company with its new growth demands. What started as 500 square feet in Truckee has expanded to international internet sales and a thriving local yarn shop. With SCORE’s advice, the company’s growth has been well planned and solid.
Giving swag to celebrities at the Emmys
Laura is constantly on the look-out for new marketing opportunities. One of her best ideas was to provide gift bags at the Emmy Awards in the ‘celebrity swag suite’. She organized a knitting circle where actors were invited to knit one row of a scarf that was auctioned for charity. Even the male actors stepped up!
"We already had customers from all over the world who ordered from our Web site," Laura said. "But having celebrities photographed with our gift bag featured in national consumer media was advertising we can't pay for."
Jimmy Beans Wool has been featured on CNN Money, in Fortune Small Business Magazine, and in Forbes as one of “Million=Dollar Businesses You’ve Never Heard Of’. In 2009 Laura and Doug started their ‘Beans for Brains’ scholarship program and awarded four $500 scholarships to applicants (knitters or not) in any accredited undergrad, graduate or professional program in the first year. The scholarship program has continued to grow.
Inc. Magazine named Jimmy Beans as one of the 5000 fastest growing private companies in the U.S. for 2009 and 2010 and again for 2011! Jimmy Beans Wool, ranked at #1379 and 207% growth, bettered their 2010 rank #1525 and 189% growth). This ranking makes them one of the 100 fastest growing privately-owned Retail companies in the country.
In 2010 Dell Computers named Jimmy Beans as one of 5 retail trailblazers. In 2011, JimmyBeansWool.com once again found itself among such internet retailing giants as Zappos, Bed Bath and Beyond, Clinique, and ThinkGeek.com.
For the 3rd year in a row, Jimmy Beans Wool has received the BizRate "Circle Excellence" award, an annual recognition of online businesses that provide exemplary customer service. This annual award recognizes those online retailers that have provided outstanding online customer experiences as rated by their own customers. This year, only 84 online retailers received this award, representing 1.7% of all online retailers within the Bizrate Insights North American Retailer Network.
It’s no wonder Jimmy Bean’s tag line is
Trams, trolleys and shuttle buses that people love to ride.
For Nancy, Leah and Rachel Munoz, this is a family affair. Specialty Vehicles is a third generation, family owned business in Henderson, Nevada that has been women-owned for two generations. Nancy began her career working for her father, a manufacturer of trolleys and trams, and after his passing reincorporated his company as her own, starting Specialty Vehicles. Her daughters Leah and Rachel began working for the company as teenagers during school vacations. Today, mother and daughters continue to grow the company and are considered the premier provider of the most diversified line of transportation vehicles in the world.
The company, which started by offering one trolley to customers, has now grown to a 27 vehicle fleet, including specialty trolleys, trams, mini-trams and buses. SVI also offers sustainable solutions to customers concerned about their carbon footprint, including alternate fuel sources and zero-emission battery powered people-movers with a solar panel option.
During tight economic times, even though upfront costs were daunting, Specialty Vehicles grew with the help of an SBA 7(a) loan from Mutual of Omaha Bank for working capital to develop new lines of business and additional revenue.
A novice to manufacturing, they jumped in feet first to create a vehicle they could call their own. Working in-house, the owners developed specifications, trained personnel, sacrificed their own paychecks and built a unique specialty vehicle. The first Metro Tram sets were delivered to federal agency buyers and new orders continue to arrive.
As a result, the company’s net worth has steadily increased and additional jobs were created both for SVI and their manufacturers. TMC Development recently funded an SBA 504 loan to purchase an industrial building to expand SVI’s manufacturing and distribution operations. The larger staging area and dock-high loading ramp at the new facility will help the company ship and receive vehicles, saving thousands of dollars each year in towing fees alone,” Leah Muñoz said. "In the past two to three years, we went through an expansion and overgrew our current facility. It was a lot of hard work, a lot of sweat and tears.”
Future plans include purchase of yet another building as the company continues to grow.