Dandy Candy, LLC was started in 2006 by friends and co-owners Goya Qualls and Gina Williams. Dandy Candy is a retail business specializing in printing full color images, photographs, logos and messages onto chocolate products.
The unique business started after Goya Qualls was laid off from the insurance industry where she worked for 24 years. With the ambition of starting her own business, she was reminded of her mother’s saying, “You should do what you love.” Jokingly, she answered herself, “I love chocolate.” What started off as a joke turned into a real business.
After much research, Qualls discovered the idea of selling personalized chocolates and pitched the idea to her friend Gina Williams, a retired disabled veteran who had recently moved from Louisiana to Houston after Hurricane Katrina. Gina was immediately on board. Leaving the chocolate making process to the experts, Qualls and Williams focused on creating graphics and designs to put on the chocolate. During their research, they learned about SCORE, a resource partner of the SBA, who helped them apply for an SBA loan. SCORE is a non-profit association of volunteers who offer free counseling to small business entrepreneurs. In September 2006, Qualls & Williams were approved for an SBA guaranteed loan.
Qualls and Williams continue to improve and grow their business and are still using SCORE’s services today. They recently participated in and graduated from SCORE & Capital One Bank’s “Getting Down To Business” program. This program was created to ensure that small business owners have access to information, resources, mentors and financing that can help them grow and succeed. The program also offers opportunities for qualified small businesses to grow by increasing business knowledge, networking with industry experts and lenders, and earning a match reward. Qualls & Williams won the business plan competition and received City Council and Congressional recognition.
These savvy business women know how to utilize the resources available. Qualls and Williams take their business very seriously, as evidenced by their state and national certifications and their commitment to continuing education. In May 2011, Williams traveled to San Antonio, Texas to attend the Veteran Women Inspiring the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) Conference and in August 2011, Williams graduated from The Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Disabled Veterans from Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. Later that year in November, Qualls graduated from The Port of Houston's Small Business Development program and appeared on local FOX TV news in support of Small Business Saturday and in December, they were featured in the Houston Business Journal. They also took advantage of the services provided by the Houston Galveston Women’s Business Center, another resource partner of the SBA.
Dandy Candy didn’t always run so smoothly. They had a rough start in the beginning finding capital and losing inventory to Hurricane Ike; the decline in the economy made things worse. However, the available resources they’ve taken advantage of and applied to their business model have helped and they are looking forward to becoming an international provider of personalized chocolates while they continue to support charitable causes.
Qualls and Williams find joy in putting smiles on people’s faces and their goal is to work with non-profits to help raise money for charity. For more information on Dandy Candy, visit their website at http://www.dandycandyonline.com. More information about the SBA, SCORE, and WBC can be found at http://www.sba.gov and http://www.scorehouston.org, http://www.wbea-texas.org/wbc , respectively.
Houstonians may remember Reggie Slater when he played basketball for Kashmere High School but many remember Slater when he played professional basketball for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets, and Toronto Raptors. Today Slater is an entrepreneur and the owner of six oil lube businesses in the Houston area and Slaters Sports Zone in Richmond, Texas.
Prior to retiring from pro basketball, Slater prepared for a transition in his career by purchasing an oil lube business in Houston. He later purchased five more lube businesses, some financed with loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Retirement from the hectic basketball player’s lifestyle gave Slater the opportunity to spend more time with his wife and children. While coaching his son’s basketball team, Slater realized there were no sports facilities that can hosts tournaments in south Houston, where he resides. Motivated by the desire to help and encourage young people to better their lives through health, fitness, and sports he built Slater’s Sports Zone in Fort Bend County. Prior to building the sports complex, Slater contacted the Ft. Bend County Small Business Development Center, a resource partner of the SBA, for technical assistance. With the help of Ft. Bend County SBDC Director Joe Decker, Slater was approved for a SBA 504 program loan to help finance the project. The SBA 504 loan program provides long-term, fixed-rate financing for the acquisition of fixed assets for expansion or modernization.
The 63,000 sq. ft. state of the art sports complex, located near a master planned community and schools, offers training in volleyball and basketball, including a strength and conditioning facility and lease space to a martial arts academy. The gym houses 8 volleyball courts, 4 basketball courts, a cafeteria, pro shop and is also available for rent. Slater’s gym is home court to the Fort Bend Fire Volleyball Club. Slater’s Sports Zone employs 75 people and their staff of experienced professionals is committed to providing the best youth sports experience possible while maintaining the standards and values that Slater founded the facility on. “It’s important to have great key employees and I’m blessed to have that at this facility,” said Slater.
Starting a business involves a lot of planning and research. A successful business owner for many years, Slater advises aspiring entrepreneurs to follow their dreams, plan early, and hire good employees. “I enjoy being a business owner and I hope to be able to continue to employ people,” said Slater.
Slater maintains dedicated and committed to helping young people and is also proud to help the community through job creation and local charities. For more information on Slater Sports Zone, visit their facility at 727 Plantation Dr., Richmond, TX 77406 or their website at http://www.slatersportszone.com. For more information on the SBDC and SBA, visit http://www.sbdc.uh.edu and http://www.sba.gov.
Houston based SniperHill Internet Services, LLC was started in 2007 by Wallace Davis and Jerry Hartless. An approved US government contractor, SniperHill provides unlimited commercial Internet solutions to US and Coalition Armed Forces, civilian contractors and International businesses operating on US bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. SniperHill began providing internet services in Iraq in 2007 and in 2010 became the first fiber optic internet provider for the US Armed Forces in Iraq.
Davis and Hartless have a combined 30+ years of specialized computer security and information technology experience. Davis is a US army veteran and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Government Studies and a Master’s in Computer Resources and Information Management. His 12 year military career includes resource management for software upgrades for US army facilities and a lead for ITT Services Corporation in Kosovo. His experiences also include Adjunct Instructor at Maryland University and Information Assurance Manager to the Iraq Theater, where he was responsible for the security of all Multi National Forces Information Systems within the Iraq Theater of Operations. Hartless has a diverse background in Information Technology services. He is a seasoned veteran in incident-handling processes and government security investigation for classified and unclassified information for the Department of Defense. He currently carries an active DOD Secret security clearance, an Information Assurance Computer Network Defense Level 2 certification, and holds certifications in Unix Administration, Microsoft and Spectrum Enterprise Network Management. He has worked abroad with the US Military in Kosovo, Bulgaria, and Macedonia and has served as the Regional Information Assurance Security Officer in Iraq.
In 2011, SniperHill outgrew their corporate headquarters and expanded their company with a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 program loan through Bank of Houston. The SBA 504 program provides long-term, fixed-rate, subordinate mortgage financing for acquisition and/or renovation of capital assets including land, buildings and equipment.
SniperHill is a multi-million dollar company whose customer list includes every branch of the US Armed Forces, US Military contractors, US government contractors, NGOs, governmental organizations and high-profile confidential western clients. They are known for providing world-class enterprise solutions in some of the harshest environments in the world and are proud to have a team of clinically trained and certified network system engineers, highly skilled IT staff, and managers who are dedicated to delivering top notch service.
As an official Army & Air Force Exchange Service concessionaire, they donate a portion of their proceeds to the customer base at every US/NATO Base through a variety of programs designed to improve quality of life, morale and welfare. They are committed to supporting men and women in uniform, hiring many US veterans and giving back to various causes and activities in the local on-base communities they serve.