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West Virginia District Office
320 West Pike Street Suite 330
Clarksburg, WV 26301
United States
Phone: 304-623-5631

Small Business Owner Receives SBA Loans for Start-up, Growth

Mike Harris knew at an early age what he wanted to do when he grew up. While the neighborhood kids were out playing games and riding bicycles, Mike was hard at work at Home Industry, the local bakery shop.

This small business began about 100 years ago in the Adamston area of Clarksburg. The name came from local people baking goods in their homes and bringing them to the bakery to sale. After a fire destroyed the business, it relocated to Main Street in downtown Clarksburg.

Mike Harris was about 14 years old when he started helping out around the bakery. Later as a young man, his main job was as a driver for the City of Clarksburg bus service. His shift as a bus driver began around mid-morning, but the early hours would find him hard at work in the bakery shop.

In 1984, Mike and his young wife Pam were approached with an opportunity to purchase the bakery. Eager to fulfill their dreams of becoming small business owners, they put together a business plan and loan package then tried to secure financing. Their enthusiasm was short lived, however, as they were turned down by three separate lending institutions.

One of the problems was that as newlyweds, they didn’t have assets or collateral to pledge as security. But their parents chipped in and offered their homes as security. With the support and backing of their parents, they pushed onward and approached Union National Bank (now Bank One), who suggested a U.S. Small Business Administration guaranty loan which allowed them to purchase the store.

About this same time, Meadowbrook Mall opened in neighboring Bridgeport which began the exodus of local shops and customers from the downtown area. Mike and Pam knew they had to make same changes and, quickly, in order to keep their business viable.

They decided to take their product “on the road,” making deliveries to local businesses out of back of their Ford Escort station wagon. This opened additional opportunities for the “little bakery” as several local food convenience stores began requesting their pepperoni rolls on a regular basis.

But times weren’t always good, and during 1992, Mike and Pam considered selling the business due to the downswing in the economy. “It was getting difficult to make ends meet,” said Pam, “but we were determined to make it work.”

With Pam hitting the road to do marketing and Mike, in the background, doing everything from baking to delivering, things began to turn around and the business began to show signs of growth.

Then in 1994 they were faced with another huge dilemma, their landlord decided to terminate the lease on the Main Street location. Needing additional funding to move to a new location, they again turned to the SBA for help. With the assistance of another SBA guaranty loan, they were able to move their operation just around the corner and down the street.

Today with 22 employees and five delivery vans, Home Industry Bakery pepperoni rolls can be found on the shelves of Pantry Stores, Go-Marts, Sheetz, and yes, even Wal-Mart. They have a delivery route of approximately 300 customers and deliver to areas as far west as Marietta, Ohio and as far north as Uniontown Pennsylvania, as well as all points between.

It took Pam two years to convince the local Wal-Marts to carry their products. “Persistence pays off,” Pam stated. “You have to believe in yourself and in your product.” Pam feels that their biggest asset is the employees. “They are like an extended family,” she said. “Some of our employees have been with us for 17 years. Without good employees, you can’t have a successful business.”

You can see the excitement when Pam starts talking about running a small business. “Marketing and sales is my favorite part,” said Pam. “It’s fun, easy, and you get to meet all kinds of people With a degree from the “School of Hard Knocks,” she feels all of their success comes from the customer. “The key is to pay attention to your customers, the customer is always right,” said Pam.

They must be listening. In 2003, this little 100-year old business generated $1 million in sales.

So what’s next? “We’re looking for a larger building where we can expand,” Pam concluded. “And we’ll again look to the SBA for assistance. They were there for us in the past and will be there again.”

For additional information about the programs and services offered by the SBA, contact the West Virginia District Office at 1-800-767-8052 ext. 8 or by email at wvinfo@sba.gov, or visit our web site at www.sba.gov/wv.
 

Small Business Owner Receives 7(a) Loan for Start-up Capital, Starts Exporting

Did you ever wonder while sitting on an airliner at a boarding gate how the lights and air conditioning/heating system worked without those noisy jet engines running? Well, you can thank a small business located in Morgantown West Virginia that you have light to read your paper and are able to sit comfortably in a temperature-controlled environment.

FCX Systems, Inc. designs, manufactures and sells solid-state frequency converters for commercial and military aviation, shipping, utility, and electric train industries. What in the world is a frequency converter, you may wonder.

“It’s basically a unit that takes AC power, converts it to DC, then reconverts it back to AC power that is acceptable to equipment with unique power requirements,” said Don Gallion, Jr., president and CEO of FCX.

Gallion founded FCX Systems, Inc. in 1987 along with four other individuals, and has seen the company grow from seven employees then to over 90 now. But it wasn’t without occasional struggles.

“When we started out, we worked in shifts,” stated Gallion. “Not because we had lots of orders to fill, but due to the fact we had only one working computer, which we purchased with just about every cent we had.”

Since they were considered a “start-up” business with little assets and equity, they found that financing was another obstacle they needed to hurdle. While making the rounds to various area lenders looking for funding, it was suggested that they try the U.S. Small Business Administration’s for a 7(a) loan.

“The experience really wasn’t as bad as we first thought,” adds Gallion. “It was initially a little time consuming, but it eventually worked out.”

“The SBA loan we received made it possible for FCX to be where we are today,” said Gallion. “If it wasn’t for that initial loan, we wouldn’t be in business.”

In fact, FCX has turned to the SBA on several different occasions during the different stages of their growth. “It’s really a pretty easy process now,” added Gallion.

FCX recently moved to an ultra-modern facility just on the outskirts of Morgantown. The facility offers room for expansion and development into other aviation-related areas. In fact, FCX products can be found powering everything from the New York Subway System to the ultra sophisticated military F22 aircraft.

Not only does FCX deal with commercial and military sales, they are also big in the International market. They actually stumbled into it.

“As we marketed ourselves, we found that even though we designed and developed a niche product that we believed was the best solid state converter going, it was hard to convince the commercial aircraft industry that we would be around to service our product” said Gallion.

“We were contacted by representatives from the Chinese aviation market that had heard about our product,” said Gallion. “We were just starting out and wasn’t real sure we could afford the plane ticket to China to meet with them.”

They did scrape enough together, made the trip, and began the process that opened what is now one of their largest markets. Gallion has made numerous trips abroad and developed ties that now include 56 countries.

Gallion has been so successful in developing the exporting market that he was named SBA’s Exporter of the Year twice, received West Virginia’s Governor’s Export Award and the President’s “E” Award for Excellence in Exporting. He also serves as the president of the West Virginia District Export Council and as chairman of National District Export Council. He also finds time to serve on numerous boards in Monongalia County and in the Morgantown area. And, just because he has a few extra minutes to spare between his trips abroad, finds time to teach a class on International Management at West Virginia University that is geared for both students and small business owners.

“Exporting has grown tremendously the past several years,” said Gallion. “In fact, West Virginia as a state is ahead of the national average when it comes to exporting.”

It’s really easy to see why that statement is true. Gallion tirelessly and unselfishly advocates for West Virginia small business. He’s been the feature speaker at several business conferences and workshops on the virtues and opportunities exporting offers. He continues to be a role model for fledgling West Virginia companies and offers innovative encouragement on their products and services on ways to expand into the exporting arena.

For more information on the programs and services offered by the SBA, SBDC or SCORE, contact the West Virginia District Office at 304-623-5631 or via email at wvinfo@sba.gov, or visit their web site at www.sba.gov.

All SBA programs are extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis.
 

SBDC Helps Small Business Owner Through Business Plan, Gain Access to 7(a) Loan

Edward “Beau” Necco is making a significant difference in the lives of hundreds children in Kentucky and Ohio, and soon, in West Virginia. And it all began with a U.S. Small Business Administration loan packaged by the Marshall University Small Business Development Center.

Beau with longtime friend and business partner, Stephen Mullins, operate Necco, a therapeutic foster care company that provides alternatives to detention services for children who are troubled.

It’s not as though Beau jumped into the business cold. His parents have been involved in the treatment of children for several years. His father, Dr. Edward Necco, began working with mentally and emotionally disturbed youth thirty-eight years ago and served as the coordinator of the Behavioral Disorders Program at Marshall University from 1972 until his recent retirement. His mother, Dorothy Necco, was a schoolteacher and actually helped write the model upon which Beau patterns his business philosophy.

Child development runs in the family. In addition to his parents, his wife, Deidra, and sister, Wendy is also deeply involved in Necco.

“We’ve been around kids our whole lives, it’s what we know and do,” said Beau. “We couldn’t be doing what we now do for kids without the help the SBA and the SBDC provided us in getting started.”

“Beau contacted me right after I took the job at the Marshall SBDC about putting together a loan package,” said Edna McClain, program director at the Marshall SBDC. “We put together a SBA loan package that got him rolling.”

With headquarters in South Point, Ohio and six offices in Kentucky, Beau has seen his company grow from two employees in 1997 to over 100 full-time employees and 200 contractors today. Necco specializes in providing therapeutic foster care services, electronic monitoring and independent living opportunities for children up to age 21. The average age of their clients is 16-21.

“Every kid needs a family,” said Beau. “We try to provide a family or try to work with families with troubled youths in order to keep them out of the court system.”

“We ease kids back into the community,” Beau adds. “If you keep them out of detention centers, provide them positive recognition and re-enforcement of good values, and build on that, you’ll create a successful and productive citizen.”

Necco has an outstanding track record in Kentucky. The incarceration rate in Kentucky for youthful offenders is less than three percent and less than one percent of kids under their program get in trouble.

Being involved with a family and responding to daily rituals and routines, children are re-educated on how to act appropriately. Children who are in detention centers often return to their old habits or pick up some new ones.

The work they do not only helps reform and re-educate the children, but it also saves the state and community thousands of dollars.

“It generally costs the state about $120 a day to keep an offender in a detention center,” said Beau. “Through the therapeutic foster care system, when all is said and done, costs run around $16 a day.”

Necco has used the SBA guaranty 7(a) loan program on three occasions. They went to the SBDC for help in putting the packages together each time.

“Edna McClain really helped us out by providing tremendous support and guidance for our company,” said Beau.

“They finally got to the point where they were over the small business size standards and we couldn’t help them any longer,” adds McClain. “I finally got to the point where I could quit worrying about them. They’re good, hard working people who made it. I’m really proud of what they accomplished in a relatively short period of time.”

For more information on the programs and services offered by the SBA, SBDC or SCORE, contact the West Virginia District Office at 304-623-5631 or via email at wvinfo@sba.gov, or visit their web site at www.sba.gov.

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