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Daniel Mitchell is a US Army Combat Medic veteran, who served our country from 1989 to 1993 in the Persian Gulf and Somalia.
He grew up in nearby Utica, New York where at just age 12 he began working in gyms. At this young age, he knew he wanted to change lives. “I felt I had a purpose in life to enhance our quality of life with exercise. I wanted to release this life force through health, training and discipline, said Mitchell.” As founder and owner of The Soap Box, a health and fitness club located in downtown Buffalo, New York, I knew I had the tools to help change lives but knew I needed additional resources to maintain my business structure and add clients.”
Passionate about his clients and the desire to open a second location, Daniel contacted the Small Business Development Center at Buffalo State College and found William Grieshober, Small Business Advisor. Daniel continued to meet with Bill, working on writing a business plan, managing numbers and marketing strategies. Daniel says, Bill was unbelievable, giving him the resources he needed to sharpen his plan and reach his goal of receiving a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) guaranteed loan for the start and growth of his new business.
Daniel reflected on his banking experience saying, “At the very start of my ambition to start a business, I contacted the Small Business Administration’s Buffalo District Office who directed me to contact my local banking representative. That’s when I met with George Gardner, my local banking representative. George provided me with some great advice and assisted me through the process of opening my first business with and SBA Patriot Express loan.”
Years later the two met again. Daniel was in search of resources to open his second location. Once again he found George who knew Daniel was a veteran who served in the US Army and encouraged him to apply for an SBA guaranteed loan. Daniel was approved and received his SBA loan from the New York Business Development Center and Lake Shore Savings Bank and in 2012 opened The Powerhouse Studios.
To be eligible to receive an SBA Patriot Express Loan, the business must be owned and controlled (51 percent or more) by eligible veterans and members of the military community who want to establish or expand a small business. Eligible military community members include veterans, service-disabled veterans, active-duty service members eligible for the military’s transition assistance program, reservists and National Guard members, current spouses of any of the above, including any service member and widowed spouses of service members or veterans who died during service or of a service-connected disability. To learn more about SBA’s Patriot Express Loan program, please visit http://www.sba.gov/content/express-pilot-programs
Daniel received his SBA loan and his plan to open a second location was complete. Today, The Soap Box and The Powerhouse Studios are a way of life for many, offering a variety of programs and services to improve one’s health and quality of life. “We recognize that every person has their own set of goals and aspirations and that is why we provide personal certified instructors and various other services including martial arts, aikido and tai-chi.
Daniel is proud to see his dreams of changing lives and watching clients get healthy and stay healthy. “The accomplishment of expanding and growing is rewarding,” said Daniel. “I enjoy training and working with my clients.
For more information on SBA’s program and services, please visit www.sba.gov.
By Danny Monahan
Small Business Administration Vermont District Office Public Information Officer
Three children walk into a gelato shop and begin trying the different flavors of the day. Once they decide on a flavor, they leave laughing while licking their cones.
“That’s the best part,” said Theo Kennedy. “Seeing the smiles on people’s faces while enjoying our gelato.”
A little more than a year ago, Theo and his wife Nora decided to open Chill, a family business, on State Street in Montpelier.
“Opening a family business was at the core of Chill,” said Theo Kennedy. “When we started this business we wanted to be together more, not less.”
The entire family works there. The children, Patrick, Aine and Sasha each spend time after school and on weekends behind the counter scooping, making gelato or hanging out.
“We love having our family here with us, it doesn’t even feel like we are working at times,” said Theo Kennedy.
The Kennedys thought they could make Chill work because of the economic growth Montpelier has experienced over the past few years. They felt downtown was missing an ice cream shop.
There is an endless selection of flavors changing daily. They have exotic flavors like Coconut and Ginger, Rose and Mango Cream. Others have Italian names such as, Frutti di Bosco, Donatelloa and Stracciatella. Then there are concoctions like Lemon Coconut Shortbread, Clove Orange and Blueberry Black Currant. The list goes on.
“With the exception of mangos and a few other items, we mostly use local ingredients,” said Theo Kennedy. “We try to make gelato in a traditional way so we can be successful.”
According to Nora Kennedy, the chief gelato maker, Chill’s gelato is a Sicilian-style, which means it does not contain eggs. She said it is made from scratch in small batches daily. Gelato is similar to ice cream, but it contains less cream, less air, and is served slightly above freezing temperatures to bring out its flavors.
The Kennedys love of gelato stems from their time in Italy. Theo lived in Italy for two years and Nora has visited there as well, so they are not unfamiliar with Italian cuisine.
The Kennedy’s opened Chill’s doors Sept. 28, 2012 after obtaining a Small Business Administration 7(a) loan. The 7(a) Loan Program is SBA’s primary program for helping start-up businesses. With the capital guaranteed by the SBA, the Kennedys were able to lease their space, make some renovations, and purchase a refrigerator, mixer and other items. The SBA does not make direct loans, but rather guarantees loans made by participating lenders.
“The SBA helped fund our business dream,” said Nora Kennedy. “I’m glad there is an agency that realizes small businesses are essential to society.”
The Kennedys said it’s mostly been a positive experience with very few downsides.
“Running a small business has been challenging because we are still learning some of the basics of it, but it’s been very rewarding.”
The Kennedys feel Chill has become part of the Montpelier community. Chill has so many regular customers; the Kennedys know many by name.
“The next best thing to working with your family is interacting with the customers,” said Nora Kennedy. “Montpelier is a great community. The general vibe is people are happy when they come in here. They come in to get gelato.”
In 1976, Watertown native Randy Yerden was a lab technician at the University of Rochester’s School of Medicine when he found he was unable to control cellular oxygen levels using conventional lab equipment. Necessity is the mother of invention, and when Yerden realized he could create a new design to provide a better environment for cell cultures, the first product that would eventually evolve into the Xvivo System was born.
Yerden started manufacturing and selling the device from his garage in 1982 and worked for years developing and selling improved versions of the invention. After hiring several employees the garage space quickly became inadequate and Yerden relocated the business. With room to grow in Lacona, NY, staffing levels grew to more than 20 as Yerden developed new designs for incubators, glove chambers and other laboratory equipment. The Xvivo System is a modular, scalable and custom configurable “clean room in a box” that allows for cell incubation and experimentation in a closed optimized environment. By approaching equipment design from the perspective of cellular needs, Yerden’s fully realized Xvivo System is able to offer new capabilities to any laboratory previously available only to cutting edge scientists.
“Our unique equipment means that cell therapists are no longer dependent on the limited number of multi-million dollar clean rooms, usually only found in large tertiary hospitals and research centers. The Xvivo System’s modular nature fits any cell production process, and is extremely affordable,” explains Yerden.
Though not Yerden’s intended market, medical researchers discovered the Xvivo System’s capabilities for cell research and the global demand for the Xvivo System spiked dramatically. Yerden turned to the Oswego Small Business Development Center in 2010; with their help, Yerden developed a business plan to target foreign markets and for economic development funding from the Oswego County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) for increased production capacity of the Xvivo System. The company was able to ramp up production to meet demand, and with product exported all over the world, has grown to employ 58 in a rural Oswego County town with population of 582. Today there are hundreds of Xvivo Systems currently used in biomedical research to find cures for numerous diseases, including in Hong Kong for leukemia and neuroblastomas, in Finland for diabetes, in Canada for lung injury and cornea repair, in Scotland for cancer and in Poland for skin and cartilage repair, among many others.
In April of this year the Xvivo System was used in a revolutionary operation at Children’s Hospital of Illinois to produce a tissue-engineered trachea for a 32-month-old Korean toddler born without a windpipe. The little girl’s stem cells were isolated from a simple blood draw and seeded onto a trachea-shaped plastic scaffold provided by Harvard BioScience. The new man made trachea was produced and grew inside the Xvivo System and then successfully implanted, marking the first time a child has received a tissue-engineered trachea. Avoiding donor tissue virtually eliminated the chances of her immune system rejecting the transplant. The ability to locate the Xvivo System inside the surgical suite made the innovative procedure much safer and much easier. The new trachea was only transported a few feet to the patient instead of a 150-mile flight from the nearest clean room in Chicago.
Yerden views the company’s experience in the ground-breaking surgery as pivotal: “Our company was able to quickly build and deliver the FDA compliant system for the trachea production in a matter of weeks. This is unprecedented in the history of the industry. It proves these exciting new therapies can be performed in any hospital.”
Under Randy Yerden’s leadership, BioSpherix has grown from a startup in a garage to a multi-million dollar business with innovative products shipped across the world. Last year, experienced business executive Michael Bovalino was hired to run day-to day operations and Yerden’s son Peter started learning the different company divisions on a rotational basis. The growth and success of the company was highlighted when Yerden was honored as the SBA Syracuse District Small Business Exporter of the Year in 2012. Relentless growth is anticipated, and BioSpherix is expanding to a second location in Oswego County in order to accommodate swelling demand for the Xvivo System. Yerden has spent 30 years building his business by staying one step ahead of the competition with lean manufacturing and nimble design processes, and plans continued growth and commercial success for many years to come.