Business Matchmaker Puts Contracts into the Hands of Small Business
An agency dedicated to connecting small businesses with people who can help them, and programs that can grow their skills has awarded over $10 million in contract dollars to Western New York small businesses. The General Services Administration‘s Acquisition Management Division – Upstate Unit based in Syracuse, New York has been attending SBA’s Business Matchmaker for the past five years.
After all, a big part of GSA’s mission matches perfectly with the mission of the SBA Business Matchmaker: both help the small business community reach key contracting experts to help navigate the procurement process and provides opportunities for small businesses to hold face-to-face appointments with government and procurement officials regarding potential contracts “Before Matchmaker, our office had not been exposed to the diverse and dynamic small disadvantaged businesses looking to compete in the marketplace and access our federal procurement opportunities,” said David Cassert, contracting officer for the GSA’s AMD. “We continue to attend this event because we know the value that these small businesses can provide the federal government.”
Celebrating its 8th annual event, SBA has hosted Business Matchmaker as an opportunity for small businesses to meet with buyers from federal, state, and local government agencies and national businesses. Government agencies, national businesses, and prime contractors are looking for qualified firms to buy products and services they need to fulfill government procurements.
Over the years, GSA AMD has met with several small business clients, from construction to service maintenance. Additionally, through the agency’s “meet and greet” appointments, they have benefited the contracting officers by introducing them to an even larger group of new and diversified contractors.
In fact, GSA AMD Contracting Officer, David Cassert was awarded with one of two national awards, the “U.S. General Services Administration Office of Small Business Utilization 2012 Above and Beyond Award” for outstanding and innovative support of small business.
“SBA’s commitment to helping America’s small businesses expand and grow has allowed our office the opportunity to strengthen our commitment to assist small businesses in obtaining contracts and providing them with the resources they need to become successful,” said Kevin Flanagan, GSA AMD Contracting Supervisor.
Cassert told the story of Lenny Johnson, U.S. Veterans Construction & Management Corp. who sought him out at the Matchmaker event last year. U.S. VCM Corp. is a service disabled veteran company and commercial contractor. Johnson was looking for projects in plumbing remodeling, heating, abatement, demolition and construction. After the company’s meeting, GSA AMD was able to process an offer and the contract was awarded in August 2012.
“I'm pleased that SBA has played a role in the growth and prosperity of so many small business contractors,” said SBA Buffalo District Director Franklin J. Sciortino. “Our business matchmaker has been an essential instrument for helping small business entrepreneurs gain access to and assisting hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs gain a foothold in government contracting.”
The SBA Buffalo District Office, SCORE Buffalo Niagara and Business First will host the 8th Annual Small Business Matchmaker on Wednesday, May 8, 2013. For more information and to register, please visit www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/event/81451.
The SBA provides small business counseling and training through a variety of programs and resource partners. For more information, please contact your local SBA Buffalo district office at (716) 551-4301 or visit us online at www.sba.gov.
From design to distribution, Ontario Plastics, Inc. (OPI) has found a way to weather the economic recession. With highly regarded products and services built over many years this Rochester-based company has entered a cycle of growth and offers more than 70 years of experience.
OPI was established in 1946 by Richard Hayes. His two nephews Leo and Mike Hayes assumed ownership in 1971. Leo’s son-in-laws Gerard Reynolds and Ralph Barnes took out a significant financial package and assumed majority ownership of the company in 2007. Later that year when the recession hit, Gerard and Ralph spent the next several years implementing a “get healthy” plan to balance the new debt with their reduced sales income.
After working on their plan, Gerard and Ralph were able to position themselves and obtain an SBA Small Loan Advantage loan through Five Star bank. Gerard credits the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for providing Five Star Bank with the guarantees they needed to assist OPI in obtaining the investment cash needed to reinvest in their company.
“Five Star Bank was instrumental in working with us to help us achieve our success today. The bank believed in us and supported our vision for growth.” said Gerard.
“While being unique in the industry, OPI has demonstrated and achieved sustained growth and profitability through the commitment and success of their entire team. They care about taking care of their customers, their company and each other.” says, Lynn Ryan, vice president of commercial lending Five Star Bank.
OPI specializes in tight tolerance plastic injection molding. This includes design engineering, early supplier involvement, reverse engineering, prototypes, secondary services, and much more.
Small Loan Advantage is one of many initiatives the SBA has rolled out aimed at increasing the number of low-dollar loans in underserved communities. This initiative allows lenders to get a pre-qualification indicator from the SBA that the applying business has sufficient credit worthiness to warrant the applicant to receive full consideration for financing.
Franklin J. Sciortino, SBA Buffalo district director stated, “The SBA prides itself on opening more doors to more dollars in every community. Expanding access to capital and opportunity is critical to fulfilling SBA’s mission- especially in underserved communities. Knowing that we can do more, SBA is constantly working to remain responsive to the needs of small business owners and the lenders who serve them daily.”
Gerard and Ralph have survived the economy; they now have the confidence to face the future!
To learn more about SBA programs and services, please visit http://www.sba.gov/.
Bubble’s Q Sauce owners Marion and Linda Simmons might just have the best slogan for extending their brand and living the American dream. With over 25 years of experience cooking their favorite barbeque dishes and sauce, the couple now markets in over 80 stores throughout western New York.
For many years, Linda Simmons had a vision from God telling her to start a small business and sell Marion’s ribs and BBQ sauce. It was during her search that she came across a business exposition looking for vendors to sell their products. “We attended and before we knew it, less than three hours into the expo, we were sold out of our sauce,” Linda recalled. “After testing the market for 10-years, I guess we were on to doing something right.”
As their initial success continued, when it came to expanding their product the Simmons needed help. They found the assistance they needed at the annual U.S. Small Business Administration’s Straight Talk conference, where the contacts and training they received helped them successfully structure their business plan and gain the advice that would be essential to marketing their product.
“We attended the seminars and met with John McKeone, business advisor at the Buffalo State College’s Small Business Development Center. John supplied us with the necessary resources and contacts to shift our business from a concept to reality, Marion said. “Definitely show up at Straight Talk; finding the right network of resources can help your product business in a big way.”
With Bubble’s Q Sauce attracting more attention locally, Marion and Linda needed to take another look at marketing their product during the off season. ”As sales began to slow down, we recognized our competition and realized that we had a seasonal product,” recalled Linda. “Fortunately, we had John and the Small Business Development Center – our business advisor who provided assistance at no charge.”
Working with John, Linda came up with a vision that would inspire customers and others to see their product in a new light. “It’s Not Just for Summer Grilling; it’s also Good for Winter Chilling!” would become the new Bubble’s Q Sauce slogan that would signify the company’s approach to barbequing during every season of the year. “Americans love their barbeques and any good barbeque starts with the sauce,” said Marion.
Marion and Linda stay in touch with John and will forever be grateful. “We can’t say enough about him or Straight Talk.”
Straight Talk 2012 is the 17th annual presentation of this program which over the years has attracted thousands of participants. The upcoming half-day seminar will be held on Saturday, January 26, 2013. Available seminars include: “Show Me the Money”, “Business Basics”, “Make Yourself Credit Worthy”,“Accessing Business Opportunities through SBA 8(a), DBE and MWBE Certification”, “Business Assistance for Veterans”, “Navigating Your Business through Taxes & Permits”, “We Did It! You Can Too!” and “Marketing Your Small Business".
“I am convinced that this conference gives entrepreneurs essential tools needed to achieve small business success,” said SBA Buffalo District Director Franklin Sciortino.
To learn more about Straight Talk, please visit our SBA website at www.sba.gov/ny/buffalo or call us at (716) 551-4301.