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When Mr. Ed Rice was approached to comment on his business success, he humbly replied, “what success” and mused further, “It’s hard work and ever-present”, intimating that success in entrepreneurship comes from the complete dedication of oneself to the enterprise in question. You better believe that Ed Rice is committed to his Popeye’s stores. No matter what time one visits the operations for a Cajun Cuisine Catch-up, he or she will most likely encounter Ed Rice involved in any one of the myriad management details, or even pitching in to serve the customers or to staff the cash register.
A demanding but fair manager, Ed has made it his policy to staff his enterprise with the best and most well rounded students from the neighboring high schools. His interview process involves a review of the individual job seeker’s report card with special stress placed on attendance record, comments from teachers, and grades. Mr. Rice feels that, if the student is a responsible team player and is respectful at school, he will undoubtedly treat Ed’s customers in a manner worthy of their patronage.
Ed Rice is a true inner city entrepreneur. At age 19, having just graduated from Fremont High School, he started his own real estate office, and successfully ran it for 10 years. In 1985 Ed opened his first Popeye’s franchise, the 103rd Street store, using a 7(a) SBA guaranteed loan underwritten by American Pacific State Bank, an institution which was subsequently merged into City National Bank. As one would expect from a borrower as responsible as Mr. Rice, the loan was repaid in advance of when required. The 18 jobs created are a living tribute to Mr. Rice’s business acumen and vision.
Unfortunately, Ed’s Watts restaurant was damaged during the 1992 civil unrest; however, the structure was reconditioned via an SBA disaster loan used in conjunction with his business insurance. An interesting anecdote relating to this establishment centers on the fact that Popeye’s was the food of choice of the National Guard in 1992. In fact, Mr. Rice cooked for and fed those guardsmen assigned to keep peace in Watts right out of the 103rd Street store.
SBA Los Angeles District Director, Alberto Alvarado offered praise stating, “Ed Rice epitomizes the meaning of the word entrepreneur. Ed assumed tremendous risk, expecting the concomitant return on his investment in his first venture. His dedication and tenacity earned him the appropriate rewards.”
Employing the ingenuity referenced by Director Alvarado, and by using personal capital and CRA funds, Mr. Rice followed the traditional path taken by most entrepreneurs. He parlayed some of what he earned and everything he learned from his first success and opened another Popeye’s in the Crenshaw District. This second franchise, at 3268 West Slauson Avenue, is operated in the same fashion as the original site. The 14 employees, whose jobs were created through Ed Rice’s enterprising spirit, remain focused on excellent customer service, an integral part of the core competencies of Ed Rice’s company.
Ever the entrepreneur, Mr. Rice is in the planning stages to open another Popeye’s. Feasibility studies and site consideration are currently in process. Expectations are for the third operation to create 20 new jobs in the Central Los Angeles community. Ed Rice may, again, call upon SBA financing to help provide clear sailing for this new Popeye’s franchise.
The Watts Popeye’s can be contacted by calling (323) 566-9402. The Crenshaw District location can be reached at (323) 569-0071.
For additional information on SBA Loan Programs and Services please call the Los Angeles District Office at (818) 552- 3210 or visit the SBA’s user friendly web site at www.sba.gov.
John Lynch of Woolverton Printing Company in Cedar Falls, Iowa, can proudly trace the origins of his company all the way back to his great grandfather Roy Woolverton, who founded the business when he first started providing printed materials to local churches in Osage, Iowa in 1897.
In 1920, Roy Woolverton moved the company to Cedar Falls to pursue commercial printing contracts and also to provide college education opportunities for his children. John’s grandfather William Lynch, married to one of Roy Woolverton’s daughters Cornelia Woolverton, guided the company through its most critical trials after the 1945 arson fire, which destroyed most of the building.
William supervised the reconstruction and had the company back in full operation within five months after the fire. The company continued to grow under John’s father, Richard Lynch’s directions in the 1970s and1980s and Richard still serves as the company chairman of the Board of Directors.
With a successful marketing plan created by Delores Lynch, John’s mother, in 1984, their church clientele expanded. Parts of the marketing plan are still used today, which includes a toll free line for churches to call in orders. Approximately 14,000 churches use this service and place up to 200 orders daily.
Even though the foundation of the company is strongly rooted in the past, the company is focused on creating a successful future. Since John Lynch became CEO and President in 1992, Woolverton Printing Company has seen a significant increase in both sales and number of employees. Augmenting the traditional church product line and mainstay with commercial and government printing contracts is the key to Woolverton’s rapid growth. In 1999, Woolverton passed a milestone by moving from downtown Cedar Falls to its present location in the Cedar Falls Industrial Park. Moving to the new location made it possible for the company to add a six color press, which required additional space and atmospheric conditions. During the move, Woolverton received two Small Business Administration (SBA) guaranteed loans through the Black Hawk Economic Development Corporation in Waterloo. The loans were used for two critical equipment purchases for printing production.
The business has expanded even more since its 1999 move. The company has continued to invest heavily in the latest printing equipment. The 2001 expansion added a warehouse and production facilities for mail order. In 2003, Woolverton also added the fully electronic Internet-based customer integration software solution, featuring new computer to plate (CTP) capabilities, to its printing production allowing full electronic flow of printing orders to production.
Along with vice president Mitch Weinberg and sales manager David Hartley, John and the rest of the staff at Woolverton continue to add to the foundation of success that Roy Woolverton first started building back in 1897.
Kaikor Construction Company, Inc. is a Honolulu-based general contractor specializing in concrete structure contracting, with services including bridge construction and repair, precast installations, foundations, marine superstructure and pervious concrete, a porous, more environmentally-friendly material than the traditional concrete material. Although a well-established company with a 25-year history, Kaikor has remained a nimble operation, successfully navigating the ever-changing business environment and adapting to Hawaii’s unique island economy.
Garrett Sullivan, CEO, has been at the helm, shifting the business’ position and engaging employees in proactive problem solving. With his leadership and innovative approach, the company competes with the larger contractors by focusing on core competency and being a leader in a specialized field.
Focused on cultivating a healthy workforce environment, the CEO supports the Kaikor team by providing tools and training to help them master their trade and maintain a competitive advantage. Sullivan and his employees are involved in community service projects, supporting key projects with Moanalua High School, the Hawaii Foodbank, Kidney Foundation and Hawaii International Child. With 36 employees currently on the payroll, Kaikor is consistently recognized as one of the “best places to work” in Hawaii. Employees also enjoy 401K and health plans and other wellness benefits.
This savvy CEO is also a resource to his industry, balancing the competitive edge as a provider of niche products with the attitude that helping others in the industry raises the standards overall. Sullivan is on top of best practices for his industry and is an active leader in the General Contractors Association and the Construction Financial Management Association, an organization that measures financial performance in the construction industry.
In 2002, Kaikor Construction received assistance from the SBA in the form of a 504 loan to assist in the purchase of their current office and warehouse facility in Kalihi. Sullivan has steered Kaikor through economic downturns, emerging more profitable and reslient each time. Since inception, Kaikor Construction has completed more than 407 projects valued at more than $147,000,000, with on-time delivery every time.
Garrett Sullivan has been named SBA’s 2010 Small Business Person of the Year for the City and County of Honolulu.