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Suspended from the ceiling in the center of the world’s largest toy store---the Toy’s R Us in New York’s Times Square---is a multi-venue apparatus with movable panels that allows for dynamic use of lighting, an open or closed environment and acoustic separation for events ranging from children’s birthday parties to evening cocktail receptions. It is just one example one of the innovative and beautiful designs produced by Manhattan’s Kenny & Khan, Inc. architectural firm.
Kenny & Khan was founded in 2002 by partners Rolando Kenny and Indian-American Khalida Khan who had worked together for four years at SBLM Architects before they started their own architectural planning and design firm. The firm specializes in interior and exterior designs of educational and government projects requiring strict compliance with the city’s and state’s myriad of construction laws.
The company’s institutional work ranges from K-12 public and private schools to secondary schools. The company has a portfolio of completed work all around the city including the rehabilitation of the Bedford Park Subway Station in the Bronx, the renovation of the auditorium of PS157 in Rego Park, Queens, the athle tic fields at Manhattan’s Pier 40 and the alteration of U.S. Court Offices in the Woolworth Building to name a few.
Prior to launching their business Kenny and Khan attended Pace University’s Small Business Development Center monthly business planning workshops in order to draft their business plan. They also took advantage of the expertise of SBDC business counselor, Ruth Wan, to fine-tune financial projections and determine their capital needs for a loan application package. Their comprehensive loan application helped Kenny and Khan secure a $150,000 working capital loan in 2002 from HSBC that was guarantied by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The partners had injected $50,000 of their own money as part of the loan deal.
Kenny and Khan didn’t draw salaries for the first three months of operation, but had planned for that income shortfall in their original business plan. By their second year, they were doing well enough to bring on an employee. With their continued success they brought on additional staff in their third and fourth years, and are looking to add more this year. Revenues increased by 10 percent in each of those years and the company is now working on 30 different projects.
According to Khan, “The SBA made it possible to begin a small journey into our future.” “We anticipate working with the SBA as we continue to grow,” added Kenny.
-by DeAnn Misilmeri
When you’re working in your office and your business depends upon your drivers carrying out their jobs efficiently, exactly how can you be sure they’re meeting your expectations? John M. Cunningham Jr., founder of Vehicle Tracking Solutions, has the solution that will allow you to run your delivery or sales fleet at its full potential and better serve your customers.
Starting out six years ago as a reseller of AVL (Automatic Vehicle Location) systems, VTS’s business has since boomed with a series of ever more innovative and technologically advanced products. In 2004, the company launched its signature product, FleetMinder®, a real-time GPS management system. With installation of FleetMinder® on a vehicle, management can track latitude, longitude, heading, and speed and engine idle status using one of twenty-four Department of Defense satellites. Additionally, managers can see if vehicles are exceeding speed limits, entering unauthorized areas or being driven during off hours. The end result is a
more efficient and tightly managed delivery fleet.
VTS now tracks more than 11,000 vehicles, 24/7, for over 750 clents in 32 states with local customers including the Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County Water Authority, World Courier, U.S. Limousine Service LTD, and Island Pump and Tank. The company has grown by double digits over the last four years operating from offices in New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Connecticut, Florida and Texas.
Originally from Long Island’s Nassau County, Cunningham always had a knack for computer technology. When he graduated high school in the early 1990s, he went right to work as an independent agent for PageNet. In 1996 he opened a retail store and was a "dealer" for AT&T. He then joined Verizon Wirele ss as a business-to-business sales executive. Cunningham knew he had a natural talent for sales, and upon discovering the world of AVL systems in 2001, realized he could merge his two talents to create a successful future. “These days I couldn’t imagine being in another business,” said Cunningham.
But to get his business to the next level he needed some help. Most sales people are accustomed to hearing the word “no,” but Cunningham did not expect to hear that every time he applied for a loan to grow his business. After exhausting all his loan possibilities with traditional lenders, he visited with Irving Borman, a business counselor at the Long Island Development Corporation. They developed a loan package that landed Cunningham a $900,000 loan from Progressive Credit Union that was guarantied by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The loan enabled Cunningham to purchase and renovate his Deer Park, LI office, as well as provide employment for a staff of twenty, five of whom are on-the-road technicians.
Cunningham lauded the assistance he received from the feds and his local business networking center. “When I had trouble getting a loan it was the SBA and LIDC that helped me bring my business to the next level.” For other aspiring entrepreneurs striving to get to the next level, Cunningham advised, “Stay determined and map out your goals. No matter what yo ur business is, help customers justify their costs. In return, this justifies your value.”
-by DeAnn Misilmeri
Michelle Hsu and her husband Nicholas first arrived in the U.S. from Taiwan in 1989, under the federal government’s Treaty Investors Visa and settled in Texas to invest in oil and real estate, and make their fortune. Then came the infamous Big Bust. Caught off guard, the Hsu’s cut their losses, pulled up stakes and re-settled in Florida. This painful lesson about the importance of researching business trends was not lost on them; as Michelle has since parlayed it into a blazingly successful new enterprise – the International Academic Alliance.
In Taiwan, Michelle had been considered a pioneer in the concept of “off-site” MBAs. She leveraged that experience to create multi- national, cross-cultural business education programs in the U.S. Rather than start completely from scratch, she streamlined the process by establishing course accreditation partnerships with major colleges and universities in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Michigan and North Dakota, simultaneously giving those institutions a presence overseas.
The Hsu’s relocated to New York in 1994, anticipating and then capitalizing on computerscience education in major urban markets. The business did well until the combined catastrophes of 9/11 and the death of Nicholas threw a wrench into the works. Going back to the drawing board, Hsu identified the next big thing as the healthcare sector, and nursing in particular. She launched a successful partnership program with the Corcoran School of Nursing, and soon extended the partnership to Adelphi University. Starting with three nursing prep students in 2002, the program has since graduated 200 nurses, with another 400 students
currently in the pipeline.
Grappling with the blessings and burdens of unprecedented growth, Hsu realized she needed additional working capital to better serve her students. She applied for, and received, a $200,000 loan from United Commercial Bank. The loan was guarantied by the U.S. Small Business Administration under its ExpressLoan Program, which allows a private lender to use its own paperwork in place of the SBA’s in return for a 50 percent guaranty of the loan amount.
The loan enabled Hsu to open a second “capsule campus” at 250 W. 40th Street. (The original campus remains on Sixth Avenue near Bryant Park.) The new campus hosts master’s degree programs in accounting, finance and business administration, in partnership with accredited colleges in the U.S., China and India. With overseas offices in Beijing, Taipei, Mumbai and Bangalore, the company now has 11 employees and 15 adjunct professors on staff, and annual receipts since the loan, have grown from $1.1 million to $2 million.
Hsu was honored last year for her community service with an award from the Queens Theatre in the Park, and was recently elected to its board of directors. This spirit of service, combined with a hard-won zeal for research and trend-spotting, has positioned Michelle Hsu and the “Alliance” for continued success. And, as Hsu freely admits, having the right partners – her husband, her university affiliates, and the SBA – certainly helps.
More information about International Academic Alliance can be found at: www.iaaprograms.com.