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Those celebrities looking to present political correctness when they set foot on the red carpet or arriving at other high-profile events can now do so thanks to a Bronx-based limousine service.
Already chauffeuring the likes of Eddie Murphy, Angela Bassett, Denzel Washington and Tony Award nominee, S. Epatha Merkerson, Dunn Rite Limousine Service just purchased its first hybrid Lexus sedan. By simply hiring Dunn Rite’s new vehicle, celebrities can make a statement about their personal carbon footprint before they even step out of their limo. Should the Lexus be unavailable on any given day or evening, celebs and non-celebs alike can hire another of Dunn Rite’s fleet including a Mercedes sedan and an Escalade SUV.
Dunn Rite is owned and operated by 54-year old, Frederick Dunn who– after an eight-year stint in the Army which included a tour in the Gulf War as a transportation/fuel specialist and for which he was decorated– returned to New York and began work as a chauffer. Within five years he struck out on his own with a used Mercedes he had purchased with a $7000 down payment he had saved. Over the next three years he built his client roster solely by word-of-mouth and the ensuing success enabled him to secure a $20,000 loan from Bank of America to further grow his business.
Dunn continued to expand the business by securing a $35,000 Bank of America line of credit that was guarantied by the U.S. Small Business Administration under its Patriot Express Loan Program. The Patriot Express Loan is available to military community members including veterans, service-disabled veterans, active-duty service members participating in the military’s Transition Assistance Program, Reservists and National Guard members, current spouses of any of the above, and the widowed spouse of a service member or veteran who died during service, or of a service-connected disability.
Dunn also happened to use another SBA service--- SCORE. Otherwise known as Counselors to America’s Small Business, SCORE provides free business management counseling from successful active and retired business executives. New York City SCORE counselors Al Korn and Robert Moses help Dunn strategize his expansion and successfully apply for the Patriot Express loan. Dunn regularly consults with Korn and Moses as his business continues to flourish. “I didn’t know about these free services from the SBA and SCORE,” said Dunn. “Now I tell all my friends you’ve got to take advantage of them.”
And having come from the projects in Red Hook, Brooklyn, Dunn is committed to giving back to the community, such as making regular donations to the Coalition of Concerned Legal Professionals to support its efforts in assisting farm workers; the Smile Train which assists children with cleft palate; the Bowery Mission and Project Hope. So as not to “adversely impact his community,” he and his wife, Rosa, purchased an environmentally friendly Toyo ta Prius for their personal use. “I have a definite destination in mind,” said Dunn. “But until then I’m really enjoying the journey.”
It’s the end of a long day, you’ve been rus hing to make business deadlines or rushing to class or running the kids from one activity to another, or maybe all of the above, and now the question is – what’s for dinner? Entrepreneurs Karen Boyle and Donna Schukal, owners of Whats4Dinner, Inc., have the answer for Suffolk County residents.
Like most busy professionals, Boyle and Schukal considered time a rare commodity. Both worked in corporate positions– which excited neither of them– and they found managing their time outside of the office challenging. Their schedules typically did not allow time for meal planning, food shopping, and cooking and cleaning up every night. So in 2005 they began searching for a solution, which for them had to include healthier alternatives than fast food and or sometimes unhealthy restaurant meals. They finally devised the concept of providing individualized service to people with demanding schedules including a do- it-yourself, meal-preparation center that would be affordable, convenient and of fine-restaurant quality.
Within a month Boyle and Schukal incorporated Whats4Dinner and continued working at their full-time corporate positions. In an effort to go full-bore with their new enterprise they sited and leased a commercial space just off the heavily trafficked Smithtown Bypass. Over the next year, with the help of an SBA-guaranteed $200,000 loan from Commerce Bank, they renovated the facility which included their “assembly-ready kitchen.” According to the owners, upon completion of health department standards in April 2007, Whats4Dinner became the first certified dinner-assembly store in Suffolk County.
Customers can order week’s worth of portion-controlled meals online or visit the store, where they are provided with various recipes and all the necessary items to prepare meals. They get nutritionally balanced, healthy food while saving on shopping, cookbook look-ups and clean up. Over 98 percent of their ingredients are purchased from local food suppliers and vendors, ensuring fresh and simple meals that can be served in a timely manner. A testament to the owners’ business philosophy that a person’s diet should be tailored to fit their lifestyle needs, sales grew by 85 percent over the first year and continue to grow each month.
In addition to turning a profit, Boyle and Schukal regularly donate food and food-baskets to local Island charities including the Lt. Thomas Healy Foundation, Good Shepherd Hospice, Babylon Breast Cancer Fund, Doctors without Borders, the Stony Brook Pediatric Oncology and Helping Hands. They are supporters of the Smithtown Chamber of Commerce and are on the advisory boards for the Friends for Life Foundation and Suffolk Count y Women's Business Enterprise Coalition. They also participate in health and wellness fairs at local schools, and conduct healthy meal preparation demonstrations at social events.
Hard work, careful planning and determination paid off for the duo. According to Boyle and Schukal, “We’ve been able to successfully reach our goals and help our community at the same time with the help of the SBA and business plan counseling from the Stony Brook Small Business Development Center.”
For further information, visit www.whats4dinnerinc.com or stop by the kitchen located at 737 Smithtown Bypass.
–by DeAnn Misilmeri
Bronx, NY– One of those businesses that is thriving and contributing to the economic boom in the Hunt’s Point area of the Bronx is doing so after fleeing Manhattan’s skyrocketing rents. Down East Seafood, Inc. has not only created jobs and tax revenues for the Bronx, but it is also helping to spruce up its environs.
Down East’s owner, Edward Taylor, first started out in the seafood business in 1989 selling clams door-to-door to restaurants throughout the New York City. After turning his first profit he established Down East Seafood with company headquarters located in his personal apartment. As his distribution grew so did his number of employees, and in 1996 he moved the business to the Meatpacking District in Manhattan. Once famous for its vacant lots and affordable warehouses, the recent gentrification pushed out Down East along with so many other small businesses.
In 2006, the Business Initiative Corporation of New York provided Down East with a $2.5 million HSBC Bank loan which was guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business
Administration under its 504 Loan Program. The financing enabled the company to relocate to its current 17,000 square- foot facility in the South Bronx, now a major distribution hub for seafood and the home of the relocated Fulton Fish Market.
And the company is growing and prospering just like its new neighborhood. The number of employees has doubled to 47 and revenue increased by roughly 40 percent this year. Revenues are projected to grow to $18 to 20 million from $13 million in 2008. As for the surroundings, there’s newly opened Baretto Point Park and the new Hunts Point Clean Air Transportation Shuttle which provides service to the nearest subway station.
The shuttle has encouraged Down East’s employees to work longer hours and make more money since they now have a way to get to the subway from the southwestern portion of the Hunt’s Point peninsula. Seeing the benefits of the new environmentally beneficial hybrid shuttle service, Down East invested in a similar vehicle– an electric, refrigerated delivery truck which reduces the impact of diesel exhaust.
The success of his business has allowed Taylor to give back to the community. He hopes tying in with the developments of the surrounding neighborhood will help play an important role in balancing the needs of the rising population with environmental preservation efforts.
When it comes to advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, Taylor enthusiastically states, “Talk to the SBA, and come to Hunts Point!”
-by DeAnn Misilmeri