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Wyoming District Office
100 East B Street, Federal Building, Room 4001 P.O. Box 44001
Casper, WY 82602
United States
Phone: 307-261-6500
HaasConsturction

Freedom to Choose

There are many reasons people opt to become small business owners.  Some individuals choose business ownership because of the freedom it provides:  Freedom from a boss who may not believe in you, freedom to fail or succeed by your own efforts, the freedom to design your own destiny.  The woman at the helm of Haass Construction, Colleen Haass, started the company in the late seventies in her garage for just that reason.  Colleen wanted the freedom and opportunity to show what she was capable of doing despite the fact (and perhaps even because of) she is deaf.  Although Colleen was born deaf, she wasn’t diagnosed with profound sensorineural hearing loss until she was ten years old.  Determined to succeed in life, Colleen taught herself to speak and rather than learn sign language, she has developed her lip reading ability almost to a fine art.

Haass Construction developed at a slow pace in part due to the fact that many people grew impatient when trying to communicate with Colleen or chose not to use TTY phones or relay operators because of the perceived inconvenience.  In 2004, Colleen applied for and was accepted into the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 8a business development program for socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.  “The 8a program has been a huge benefit to my company,” said Colleen.  “Deb Farris, my Business Opportunity Specialist, personally took the time to introduce me to each and every contract officer at one of the annual procurement conferences.  Being able to communicate with the contracting officer face to face was important to me and I believe the jobs we were awarded as a result of some of those interactions have proven to be extremely valuable to Haass Construction.”  As a result of Haass participation in the program, the company has been awarded numerous federal contracts and Colleen’s bidding and estimating ability has been honed to allow Haass to be more viable in all competitive opportunities for small businesses.

Haass Construction has built everything from custom homes to the First Interstate Bank in Mills, Wyoming.  They’ve accomplished remodeling at federal buildings and completely demolished a bridge for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Haass has built restaurants and horse tanks, cabinets and custom homes.  Colleen conducts most of her business with the use of email and the help of her husband, John and son, Adam.

A Woman Owned Small Business Haass Construction is registered in the SBA’s repository for woman owned small businesses.  Colleen also sought out a Mentor for her company and developed and submitted the required documentation for SBA’s Mentor/Protégé Program, so that her company could be mentored by a much larger construction firm, AP Mountain States.

In November of this year, Haass Construction will successfully graduate from the 8a business development program.  The program served as a catalyst for Colleen’s determination and Haass Construction’s reputation for quality work.  Colleen said, “Participating in the 8a business development program has provided me another tool to expand and grow my company.  I would strongly recommend that any small business that believes they are socially and economically disadvantaged apply.”

Not only is Colleen an advocate for small disadvantaged businesses, she is a passionate advocate for hearing impaired individuals.  She has appeared on local television commercials encouraging people to use relay operators to improve the communication experience for those who are hearing challenged.  Colleen is an incredible example of what can be accomplished with determination and commitment.   Rather than accept the limitations former employers so easily offered, Colleen, knowing she had so much more to give, chose to be an independent small business owner.

 

The SBA does not endorse the opinions, products or services of any private individual or business entity.  

Tanna Parker, Owner and Jon Crabtree, SBA Lender Rel. Spec.

Imagine That Signs & Graphics

 

Tanna Parker is the owner of Imagine That Signs and Graphics.  Tanna entered the male-dominated sign industry in 2010, when she started her own woman-owned business.

Tanna earned a business degree and has gained industry experience by managing a signage and marketing materials company.  Based on this experience, she decided to start her own business, so she could use her ideas to develop her own signage and other products.

Tanna needed help meeting the challenges of starting a new business.  She learned about the pros and cons of different legal structures, and decided that being a sole proprietor was right for her.  She also needed to know the cost per square foot for lease space and choosing the best location.  Fortunately, her parents, a real estate broker and an appraiser, were available to help her with these business decisions.  Next, she purchased the equipment, including the software and media to run the very large printing and screening machinery. Financing a start-up business can be a challenge, but in April, 2010 Tanna received an SBA loan through the Bank of Buffalo.  She was in business!

Tanna knows the importance of learning the methods and technologies of her industry.   She opened her business in 2010, and went to wrapping school the following year.  The training taught her the technology used to apply wraps to cars and positioning signs and logos.  She learned about the school through a friend that was into NASCAR racing.  Tanna experiments with the designs she sells and has taught herself many skills necessary to run her business. 

Tanna also received assistance through the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Casper, Wyoming.  Leonard Holler at the SBDC prepared a business valuation for Tanna, which can be useful when a business owner is considering applying for a loan, selling the business or making other business decisions.  Her parents also continue to mentor her as needed, and she has learned the importance of researching an issue and making business decisions.  She says:  “I will make no rash or fast responses without thoroughly thinking it through.”  This focus and determination have helped her start and grow her business.

When starting and growing a business it is important for a new business to do as Tanna did, and seek the help advice and training from the SBA, the SBDC, and family, friends or other available resources.

The SBA does not endorse the opinions, products or services of any private individual or business entity.

Wyoming Completion Technologies, Inc. Growing by Exporting Down-Hole Tools Worldwide

 Scott Hecht started Wyoming Completion Technologies, Inc. (WCT) in Powell, Wyoming, in August of 1998 because he believed his designing and manufacturing of oil field down-hole tools would benefit the oil industry.

Shortly after going into business, oil decreased to $9.50 a barrel.  Oil drilling virtually ceased.  Faced with aggressive competition from large businesses and the challenge of rural living, Scott found himself relying on his other business, Western Engineering, Inc., to pay the bills while building WCT.  WCT continued to expand even during the oil bust and to produce down hole tools for established customers in the United States as well as many foreign countries. 

Scott acknowledges the contributions of agencies and individuals in the success of WCT.  Several of SBA’s Capline/FA$TRK loans allowed his business to grow and ship fifty percent of his annual sales outside the U.S.  With the guaranteed SBA loans, Scott had the seasonal cash/credit on terms he needed to pursue his dream and expand WCT.  Scott said, “Without SBA we never would have been around today; we will never forget you.”  WCT was presented SBA’s Wyoming Exporter of the Year award in 2004.  Over the last ten years WCT has increased its exporting and currently approximately fifty percent of its sales are international.

Looking back, Scott and his wife, Janice started the business with one CNC lathe and one mill and the two of them; now they have five lathes, two mills and employ 15-20 individuals in the area.  In July 2013 they went to a third shift in the production of parts.  Scott attributes the uniqueness and quality of his business to Janice, Mike Kvia, a top notch machinist, Martha Butwin, Department of Commerce, and Bart Langemeier, President, Bank of Lovell.

Scott and Janice received the U.S. Foreign Commercial Services Export Achievement Certificate during the 2012 Global Petroleum Show in Calgary.  They were also part of the first Gold Key Canada which is a program provided through Department of Commerce, one of SBA’s exporting partners.  American companies are matched with companies in foreign markets that can assist them to expand in the exporting field.

WCT has experienced increased growth and several awards for achievement but small businesses are never without challenges. The major challenge Scott and Janice face is logistics and shipping.  The average tool they manufacture weighs around 50 pounds and is shipped UPS or Fed-ex.  Heavier tools are shipped via LTL.  Being located in a rural state definitely contributes to the challenges of worldwide shipping. 

Scott says, “We currently deliver tools around the world and are in the process of a company expansion to increase our manufacturing capacity.  We have our own design team and licensed professional engineers and are able to customize tools based on individual customer needs.”

Wyoming Completion Technologies, Inc. provides an example of what small businesses in Wyoming can accomplish.  To find out about any of the programs mentioned in this article, contact your local SBA office at 307-261-6500 or www.sba.gov/wy

The SBA does not endorse the opinions, products or services of any private individual or business entity. 

Attached files: SBA Success Story (4).docx

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