When Marshall Doyle settled in Portland, Ore., after four years in the Air Force and another five years in the Air National Guard, he wasn’t thinking about owning a business. He wanted to get a job and support his wife and two young children. Marshall worked his way up through a local property management firm, eventually overseeing 40 employees. But he wasn’t satisfied. “I always felt like I could do more,” said Marshall. “I was always looking for opportunities.” So when a friend of the family introduced him to the owner of Cal-Cert who was looking to sell his business, Marshall jumped at the opportunity.
It meant a $20,000 cut in pay, but the challenge made up for it and in 1998, Marshall went to work at Cal-Cert. Eight months later after learning the ropes, he purchased the company. Marshall had some experience in calibration from serving as Field Systems Mechanic while in the Air Force, but he didn’t have a lot of knowledge about running a small business. That’s when he turned to the Small Business Development Center at Clackamas Community College.
“The SBDC helped me understand the value of my time,” said Marshall. “I was working 70-80 hours a week and not charging enough.” The SBDC helped Marshall evaluate and raise his prices, and he didn’t lose a single customer.
“Marshall is a tenacious, dedicated business owner,” said Rob Campbell, director of the Clackamas Small Business Development Center. “He just needed help figuring out the logistical side of owning a business. Now, the table has turned and he is one of our best guest speakers – helping other small businesses learn from his early mistakes.”
Something else Marshall learned was the importance of his employees. Having started with just himself, his wife, his brother and one other employee, growing took some getting used to. In 2007, Marshall met Teresa Paschal for lunch, she had been working for Cal-Cert’s main competitor. After a five-hour lunch, she came to work at Cal-Cert. Her specialty was in finance and she was known for creating efficiencies and reducing waste. And that’s just what she did. “She asked me all of the hard questions,” said Marshall. “But they were the right questions, and just what we needed to grow and be successful.”
Teresa’s favorite part of working at a small business is that each employee is heard and helps to ensure success. “Marshall has great ideas and has built amazing relationships with our customers and across our industry,” said Teresa. “But, it’s together that we’ve built a team that supports Cal-Cert’s vision and culture.”
Cal-Cert now employs 30 and recently opened a second office in Denver, Col. “Our employees range in age from 22 year old to 65 years old and they are truly what make us special,” said Marshall. “Together, our team has 170 years of calibration experience – they know what to do and they do it well.”
For more information about SBA Programs and Resources visit www.sba.gov/or.
When she founded Escuela-Viva, Angie Garcia wanted to create an early childhood education program that would have a direct impact on the overall development of the children it served. “I wanted to create a community that would support the development of well-rounded children,” said Angie. In order to achieve this, it meant building a school, from the ground up.
Escuela-Viva is a bilingual preschool located in Southeast Portland that serves children and their families. Today’s thriving and successful enterprise began 10 years ago in Angie’s basement.
As the mother of a nearly two year old, Angie needed to work to support her family. Yet she could not find a preschool that fit her needs and she worried about the lack of socialization that a nanny would provide. So instead, she turned to her years of experience as a child and family social worker and set out to start her own school.
The school started with just a few children, including her own daughter. Before long, Escuela-Viva was growing rapidly due to Angie’s unique vision of a dedicated learning environment and families’ word-of-mouth marketing. The rapid growth forced Escuela-Viva to spread out into three locations which proved challenging for the children, their parents and the teachers. The school was at its maximum capacity and needed to expand.
Not sure how to proceed, Angie approached a few local lending institutions. She found that the amount she needed was too small for most traditional investment banks. Eventually she approached some smaller lenders and secured a loan for the school’s expansion through a SBA Microlender, Mercy Corps Northwest and a Community Development Financial Institution, Albina Opportunities Corporation.
The SBA Microloan program provides loans up to $50,000 to help small businesses and certain not-for-profit childcare centers start up and expand. The SBA provides funds to specially designated intermediary lenders, which are nonprofit community-based organizations with experience in lending as well as management and technical assistance. These intermediaries administer the Microloan program for eligible borrowers.
In 2010, Escuela-Viva moved to its newly renovated building on SE Pine Street. The new site provides five classrooms, kitchen space and an outdoor play area and garden. All of which builds on Angie’s vision of supporting the development of the “whole child.” One of Escuela-Viva’s 18 full-time employees is a nutrition specialist that works to feed all 89 children healthy home-cooked meals each day.
According to Angie, having the right staff and professionals is the key to having a successful business. “You need to have competent folks in your corner – professionals at what they do – and you need to be able to trust them,” said Angie.
Angie approaches business much like she approaches Escuela-Viva’s mission – finding the best, most effective way to do anything. “We strive to make the puzzle fit together in the most optimal way, not just the easy way,” said Angie. “And boy do I like a challenge.”
For more information about SBA Programs and Resources visit www.sba.gov/or.
When Debbie Eggers and Janelle Mikula met outside their daughters’ classroom six years ago, they had no idea they would start a business together. But, while shopping at a local candy store during a family vacation together, Debbie mentioned her dream of opening her own business, and Janelle thought it sounded like a great idea.
A few months and a lot of research later, Debbie spotted a flier in a vacant downtown Gresham storefront and realized that this was their chance. At the time, the City of Gresham was waiving building and licensing fees to encourage growth on Main Street. So Debbie and Janelle got to work.
“Our biggest struggle in getting started was creating a full-fledged business plan. Neither of us had any idea what this meant or how to get started,” said Debbie. “This is where the SBA came into play.”
Debbie and Janelle enrolled in a class for startup businesses at the Mt. Hood Community College Small Business Development Center, where they learned how to write a business plan and received free business advising to help them through the process.
Their business plan was so thorough and well organized, that Debbie credits it with helping them receive not one, but two loan offers through two different banks.
After securing the initial capital they needed, everything else started to fall into place. Before they knew it, their dream of owning their own candy shop came true. iCandy opened on Gresham’s Main Street in July 2011. Despite maintaining their other jobs, Debbie and Janelle, along with Debbie’s parents managed to run the store as they built up their clientele.
Within six months though, it was clear iCandy needed to grow. “I wish we could have seen how successful the store would be,” said Janelle. “We had people passing by, because there wasn’t room in the store for them to wait.”
A year after opening, their booming business and community support encouraged Debbie and Janelle to expand. They doubled iCandy’s floor space by leasing the storefront next to them, and removing a wall. “The community has been so supportive,” said Debbie. “They want us to be here, and it shows.”
“It’s been extremely rewarding to see our hard work go towards something I’ve been a part of building and know the possibilities are endless,” said Debbie. After being in business for nearly two years, iCandy now employees 11, has doubled their sales and is able to fill orders across the country through their website, www.icandygresham.com.