La Minestra, Inc. is a popular Italian/American cuisine restaurant located in a historic building in downtown Pierre that opened in 1998. Owners Mark and Stacey Mancuso are both Army veterans—in fact they met in the Army. When Stacey dragged her husband “kicking and screaming” to her home state of South Dakota, he loved everything about it except the food so they decided to open the restaurant. Mark is a graduate of a culinary school in Seattle and prepares all of La Minestra’s pastas, sauces, sausages and dressings from scratch. Stacey admits she’s not a great cook, but does everything from accounts receivable to payroll and anything else that needs to be done. Their three oldest sons, Matt, Nick and Michael are also involved in the business and despite working together all week long, the Mancuso family still gathers and cooks together on Sundays — their day.
Mark and Stacey have been SBA borrowers multiple times (most recently in 2012) using the program for both business and their related entity which owns the building.
What started in 1997 in Daniel and Katrina Dressen’s garage has grown into a company that has buyers in all 50 states, over 30 countries and is the nation’s third largest pet-grooming supply business. Senproco, Inc. manufactures and distributes eight brands of products, including three brands of coat care supplies. The company has expanded its product line to include pet bathing systems, grooming wear, grooming shears, decorative pet ribbon and additional shampoo and conditioning products. In 2010, the business introduced Green Groom, a new line of shampoos and conditioners, which is natural, biodegradable and packaged in recyclable containers that are silk-screened with safe inks rather than plastic labels. Green Groom has already become the company’s second largest selling item.
Senproco, Inc. and the Dressen’s have used the services of the Small Business Administration beginning in 1999 with their first guaranteed loan. Over the years they have taken advantage of SBA’s Export Working Capital Loan Program and working with Dakota BUSINESS Finance utilizing SBA’s 504 program to purchase existing buildings in Sioux Falls.
Midwestern Mechanical, Inc. is a plumbing, heating, HVAC and fire protection contracting firm with a reputation for providing quality work design and service in the region. The work performed includes new work, additions, alterations, maintenance and repairs. Midwestern Mechanical has offices in Sioux Falls and Rapid City in South Dakota, and Sioux City and Spencer in Iowa.
In 1983 at the age of 23, Dwayne Klarenbeek established the business in Sioux Falls and has successfully grown the operation over the past 29 years. Throughout the years, the business has expanded from a start-up two-man shop to the current 125 employee operation it is today. Many of its employees have been with the company since its inception.
Expansion began in 1998 when Dwayne opened the location in Sioux City. The business expanded again in 2009 to Spencer and then in 2010 a fourth location was opened in Rapid City. These expansions were made possible through guaranteed loans with the Small Business Administration. In 2012, Dwayne turned to Dakota BUSINESS Finance to assist him with obtaining an SBA 504 loan to refinance his existing building in Sioux Falls which was completed in 2008.
While sales have steadily increased to a level of approximately $20 million per year, competition and the cost of materials have also continued to increase. In response to adversity and the changing economic climate, Dwayne implemented several significant changes to address the issues. Midwestern Mechanical has reportedly dramatically changed its focus and direction and now focuses on margins, profitability, efficiencies and relationship building. Dwayne also shows personal involvement in the day-to-day operations of the business. Monthly meetings are held with the foreman to discuss quality and performance issues such as job layout, manpower scheduling, material ordering, quality control and safety issues. These brainstorming sessions often include the owners and project managers. Dwayne has also started making regular brand and jobsite visits which have shown to boost employee morale and improve quality and efficiency.
In addition to being an experience businessman and successful entrepreneur, Dwayne understands the importance of community involvement as well as continued improved and innovative business ideas. Midwestern Mechanical is a member of the South Dakota Association of Plumbing – Heating – Cooling Contractors, Inc., which Dwayne has said has helped him develop important relationships with other contractors and supplies. He also supports the local Chambers of Commerce in the cities where his businesses are located.