Eric Hoover was born and raised in Conneaut Lake, a small town in northwest Pennsylvania. At an early age, Eric was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and although doctors predicted he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, Eric was determined to prove them wrong and fulfill his dream of making a difference in the lives of those in need.
In 1988, after completing a 4 year Journeymen's Apprenticeship in the machining trade, Erie founded Excalibur Machine Company, which he is still the president and CEO of today. The last five years have seen a definite decline for most manufacturing in our area, but it was during this period that Excalibur experienced continual growth. Due to Eric's unique business philosophy and his 11 year experience, Excalibur was able to see sales growth of more than 350%. As well as, move from an individual facility of 6,000 square feet to three facilities with over 67,000 square feet. Eric has also founded a sale organization called Camelot Consolidated; a trucking firm, Blade Transport and a construction company by the name of Lancelot Construction.
Eric's growing businesses have let him devote more time to his real passion - trying to make a difference, starting with his local community. Eric, along with his family work with two area churches, Fallowfield United Methodist and Our Lady Queen of America's Catholic Church on various mission and charitable projects. He is the chairman of the Sadsbury Planning Commission and the Joint Planning Commission joining four municipalities. He belongs to the Masonic Lodge and Shrine and supports the local Shrine Hospital. He has aided local businesses by working with them at no cost, to help them turn their businesses around.
Eric has been working with the local school district to form a unique Job Shadowing Program, that will take students and place them in a working envionment, so that they will be better equipped to decide on their future plans.
Eric's most rewarding experience outside of his family, came about in 2005 with the establishment of Excalibur Charities. Although it will not be a legal entity until 2006, he felt that due to recent events that Excalibur Charities should do something to aid the Red Cross in it's efforts. Instead of just making a monetary donation, Eric planned and underwrote an event to bring the community together to raise much needed funds. Each year there will be a special event to raise money for local charities.
To be able to achieve the kind of support Eric wants to give the community, his businesses must continue to grow. In 2006 Excalibur will add another 30 to 40 employees to the existing 80. There are plans that should be complete by first quarter to salvage an abandoned building in the community, to be used as a steel warehouse, that will serve businesses throughout the area.
Donald Shepherd President of AR Worldwide (AR), manufactures electronics in Souderton, Pa., is the 2005 winner of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Exporter of the Year award. The award recognizes his expansion into international markets and the resulting increase in sales and employee growth.
The Exporter of the Year award is given to individuals who have increased sales, profits and/or growth of employment as a result of creative overseas marketing strategies, effective solutions to export-related problems, demonstrated encouragement of other small businesses to export, voluntary assistance to other small businesses entering the export market, cooperation with other firms in the creation of export trading companies and/or introduction of unique trading relationships, products or services.
AR Worldwide manufactures and distributes amplifiers, antennas, generators and test systems. As president of AR Worldwide, Shepherd plays a major role in the success of the automotive, medical, and aerospace and telecom industries. AR’s customer list includes many industry giants including Chrysler, Ford, Motorola, and General Electric. The U.S. military also uses AR’s products for electronic warfare and homeland security.
Shepherd’s career began in 1965, at a small manufacturing firm in northern New Jersey. He was part of the “Jammer Project” which manufactured an amplifier to jam enemy aircraft. Shepherd established his own amplifier business in 1969, with the intent of developing and marketing top quality broadband amplifiers. He realized the need for additional equipment to maintain the product quality and increase production.
Univest Bank provided the capital to purchase the equipment was through the SBA’s a 7(a) Loan Guaranty Program. “I would like to thank Univest for believing in us, and the SBA for giving us this award,” said Shepherd.
The 7(a) Loan Program is the SBA's primary lending program. It provides loan guaranties for small businesses unable to secure financing on reasonable terms through normal lending channels. The program operates through private-sector lenders who provide loans which are guaranteed by the SBA.
Under Shepherd’s leadership, AR has grown from (number) to 162 employees, and nearly $40 million in annual sales. AR is the leading brand in the markets they serve. AR’s success has come from their ongoing efforts to work with customers to ensure AR’s products meet their needs and testing requirements. Shepherd develops and maintains business by traveling at least 20 weeks a year to meet with customers.
“To run a successful business you have to be willing to take certain risks. AR’s exporting success epitomizes the true entrepreneurial spirit that exists throughout our county,” said Tom Tolan, Director of the SBA’s Philadelphia District Office.
The SBA is a federal agency chartered in 1953 to leverage capital access and to provide counseling and business assistance for America’s entrepreneurs. To obtain additional information on SBA’s programs and services, call (215) 580-2722 or visit the Philadelphia District Office’s local website here.
The events of September 11, 2001 had a dramatic affect on Americans, especially those who lived and worked in New York City. Maureen Conallen-Doran was an assistant manager in Manhattan for a large retailer. In the wake of 9-11, Maureen packed up and moved back home to the Philadelphia area. Her priorities changed and she wanted to be near her family.
Maureen wanted to use her management experience to open her own boutique. She found a location and prepared a business plan. She chose the name “Skirt” for her boutique because it was what her guy friends called girls in her high school. She took her business plan to three banks and was promptly declined.
She was not discouraged, and presented her plan to Partners for Small Business, a micro-enterprise group in Norristown, and they approved her for a $43,000 loan. Maureen’s father and brothers helped paint and build out the boutique. “Skirt” opened at 907 Lancaster Avenue less than two months after Maureen left New York.
Unlike many new business owners, Maureen exceeded her sales projections. In July 2004, she was looking for financing, and was referred to Citizens Bank. After being declined initially, Maureen met with her banker to discuss a plan to improve her credit rating. She improved her credit score and was approved for a $75,000 Express line of credit that was guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
SBA’s Express program authorizes lenders to use their own underwriting standards, procedures, and documentation and still receive a 50 percent SBA guarantee. SBA's lending programs provide loan guaranties for small businesses unable to secure financing on reasonable terms through normal lending channels.
Since opening her doors in 2001, Maureen has added five employees. The SBA Express line of credit has allowed Maureen to expand her inventory and add a third dressing room. Sales have increased every year and exceeding $1 million in 2004.
Maureen’s efforts have not gone unrecognized. “Skirt” has been featured in several national magazines, and was listed in Philadelphia Magazine’s “Best of Philly” issue for 2002 and 2003.
In 2005, Maureen was the winner of the SBA’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Eastern Pennsylvania. Thomas Tolan, Director of SBA’s Philadelphia District Office, said “Maureen was recognized for her professional qualities and her contribution to the economy.” At the awards ceremony in May, Maureen said “I would have never been able to grow my business without the SBA and Citizens Bank”
The Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award is given to an individual under the age of 30 who owns and operates a small business that has demonstrated staying power, growth in sales, and growth in number of employment opportunities. District Director Tolan said, “Maureen has shown through her tremendous efforts and hard work that she fully understands what it takes to be successful in business.”
The SBA was chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1953 to increase capital access and to provide counseling and business assistance for America’s entrepreneurs. To obtain additional information on the SBA’s programs and services, either call (215) 580-2722 or visit the Philadelphia District Office’s local website at: http://www.sba.gov/pa/phil.