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1549 South 1100 East
Salt Lake City, Utah
Lying face up in the deep Argentine powder of Las Leñas, Stephan Drake thought there has got to be a better way to ski. Disappointed in the commercially available snow skis, this epiphanic moment began a sixteen year journey of creativity and experimentation which resulted in an entirely new material and design for skis.
Today, Drake is the Founder and President of DPS Skis. This Utah Company is the only manufacturer of pure carbon fiber skis in the world. The company’s innovation and dedication to skiing has resulted in market success and double digit growth. Drake employs ten people in the Wasatch Valley with plans to increase that to 14 next years. The company manufactures its signature premium skis in Ogden with plans to open a new facility in Downtown Salt Lake City. “We want our Salt Lake facility to be a part of the DPS brand,” says Drake. “We envision a place where people can come and see their skis being made. People coming to Park City could tour the facility, buy a pair, and head for the mountains. That is what it is all about.”
DPS ships skis to half a dozen countries worldwide. Growing the company from scratch has not been easy. “Our journey is marked by a sense of perseverance. It is a rocky road, and we really bootstrapped it.” Drake contributes his early success to youthful naivety and the timely arrival of debt finance. Drake’s export expansion was funded by an SBA guaranteed Export Express loan from Zions Bank. “Finance has always been one of the biggest challenges,” says Drake who thinks he probably could not have gotten the loan without the SBA guarantee.
JACKSONVILLE, FL. - Harold Boyett, owner of Blue Streak Couriers, began his career in the delivery business at UPS when he was 18 years old. He worked his way up through many positions to a mid-level management position. While employed at UPS, he learned of Blue Streak Couriers, a same-day courier service that was an agent for UPS Sonic Air in Jacksonville, Florida. After much consideration and evaluation, Mr. Boyett took ownership of Blue Streak in 2005. Since his acquisition of the company, he has steadily created jobs and grown revenue approximately 500% over 8 years.
When Mr. Boyett purchased the business, he knew he would have some challenges ahead in terms of changing the business model. In October 2004, regulation was passed that allowed banks and credit unions to electronically process checks, whereas prior to that, courier services were heavily used to transport paper checks. Mr. Boyett quickly diversified the business to focus on transporting tangible products, including clinical lab work and supply distribution in the office products and healthcare industries. He also rapidly expanded the business from northeast Florida to all major markets in Florida by 2007.
In addition to rapidly growing the geographic territory of the business, Mr. Boyett also aggressively increased the number of jobs created in the community. Mr. Boyett has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as an “SBA 100” business. This distinction was given to 100 business owners across the country that created over 100 jobs in their industries. Blue Streak Couriers currently employs 43 full-time employees and contracts with over 200 microbusinesses to provide courier services.
Mr. Boyett began his transition from mid-level manager to successful business owner by working with SBA resource partner, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), in 2004, when he was first considering the purchase of Blue Streak. Since that time, he continues to work with Cathy Hagan, a Business Analyst at the SBDC, to evaluate opportunities for growth of the company and to manage this growth. The Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida provides management assistance to current and prospective small business owners. For more information, visit the SBDC at UNF’s website at www.sbdc.unf.edu.
Mr. Boyett initially received a 7(a) loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to fund the acquisition of Blue Streak and a subsequent SBA 504 loan to help finance the acquisition of two business condominiums to house the administrative operations of the company. The 7(a) Loan Program is SBA’s primary program to help start-up and existing small businesses to obtain financing when they might not be eligible for business loans through normal lending channels. For more information on 7(a) loans, visit http://www.sba.gov/financialassistance, and for a list of SBA lenders in North Florida, please visit www.sba.gov/fl/north.
The SBA 504 loan program provides long-term, fixed-rate financing to acquire fixed assets (such as real estate or equipment) for expansion or modernization. It is designed for small businesses requiring “brick and mortar” financing, and is delivered by Certified Development Companies (CDCs, private, non-profit corporations set up to contribute to the economic development of their communities). For more information, visit http://www.sba.gov/financialassistance.
Blue Streak Couriers has been recognized by the Jacksonville Business Journal as one of the 50 fastest growing businesses in the area for three of the past four years. Mr. Boyett has also received recognition from industry-specific publications such as Courier Magazine.
In his spare time, Mr. Boyett supports the courier industry through his active participation in several organizations including the Florida State Messenger’s Association, the Customized Delivery and Logistics Association, and the Express Carriers Association. He also informally mentors other small business owners that have started their own local courier service. Lastly, he donates his time and expertise by speaking to the entrepreneurship class each semester at the University of North Florida where he shares his knowledge regarding his experience as an entrepreneur.
While his company’s growth is often attributed to the use of innovative technology to produce results for customers, Mr. Boyett insists that the key to his success is his focus on customer service and a sense of loyalty from those customers in return.
In addition to contributing his time to help other small business owners, Mr. Boyett also actively contributes to several local charities including Dreams Come True of Jacksonville and the Pulse Youth Center.
For more information on Blue Streak Couriers, please visit www.bluestreakcouriers.com.
For more information on SBA’s Programs and Services, please visit www.sba.gov.
WESTVILLE, NJ---Eight year ago Maureen Keough and her brother Jim were designing and making alternative clothing for punk rockers and rockabilly aficionados out of the basement of a hair salon on iconic South Street in Philadelphia.
What started as a part-time business has evolved into a full line of clothing and brand called Too Fast. The Westville-based clothing/design manufacturer is literally busting at the seams. Their wholesaling and online retail operations are growing at a rapid pace.
Maureen likes to say, the Too Fast Brand is where music, punk, rockabilly, tattoos and fashion come together. “I was a college dropout,” said Maureen. “I just picked it up as I went along.”
Maureen and three other designers come up with the ideas for new designs. “To stay up on fashion, you have to live it. Every day, we’re shopping, flipping through fashion magazines, checking out art, listening to music, watching runway shows, and reading our trending service,” said Maureen. “We have to stay ahead of the curve, because we start designing over a year in advance.”
“When we first started, I was waiting tables and Maureen was cutting hair,” said Jim. “That first year we were doing this part time and we managed to do $50,000 in sales. After that first year the business just took off.”
With it came some growing pains. “Our biggest problem was cash flow,” said Jim. “The demand was there for the clothing, but the cash needed to fulfill orders and purchase inventory wasn’t quite there.”
So Maureen and Jim turned to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for assistance. Lisa Viscusi, Vice President and Senior Business Banker at Susquehanna Bank recommended a couple of SBA loan products to help the business with their growth. First, she advised Maureen and Jim to take out a $250,000 term loan under SBA’s 7(a) Guarantee program to help refinance and consolidate some existing loans. Part of the loan also provided them with some working capital and helped them to purchase some inventory.
In addition, Lisa recommended that Maureen and Jim use a $250,000 line of credit under SBAExpress in order to finance short-term working capital needs, such as inventory purchases or to pay operating expenses while waiting for income to come in from the company’s accounts receivables.
“SBA’s longstanding relationship with Susquehanna Bank enables us to work effectively to put capital in the hands of small business owners like Maureen and Jim Keough who are growing and thriving in the marketplace,” said SBA’s New Jersey District Director Al Titone. “Our loan products are flexible enough to give growing companies like Too Fast the ability to refinance debt and to meet their expenses and variable working capital demands.”
Today, Too Fast has grown to 18 employees with annual sales nearing $4 million. Even their mom Ellen chips in by helping out with the company’s bookkeeping. Three of the employees work in China and secure factory space and production time for Too Fast’s clothing line. In addition to their Too Fast Brand, Maureen and Jim have created the Rat Baby Brand. They also are resellers of name brand and hard to find merchandise. “Our favorite styles stem from punk, tattoo, vintage, and rock and roll roots,” said Maureen. “Our demographic is 17-35 and 80 percent of our customers are women. It’s aggressive designs for customers who aren’t afraid to wear something different.”
The Too Fast Brand includes tees, dresses, tank tops, hoodies, leggings, cardigans, bikinis, socks, heels, boots, purses and wallets. All designed with an edge and attitude.
“We are growing and trying to take the business to the next level,” said Jim. “but we don’t want to forget our roots and we want to continue to focus on giving our customers what they want.”
Currently, the Too Fast and Rat Baby brands the company represents are in 500 stores around the U.S. and in Canada. They work with an additional 300 to 400 stores in Europe, Australia and Japan. Thanks to three sales reps working on domestic and international sales, the Too Fast Brand is growing in popularity.
“We’re taking steps to increase our business,” added Jim. “We’re going to be focusing on international sales and marketing over this next year.”
The Too Fast Brand has 75,000 Facebook Fans, another 20,000 following on Instagram and another 1,900 on Twitter.
“This is a huge growth stage for us right now,” said Jim. “We’re strengthening our infrastructure and are gearing up for the next stage. Eventually, we are going need more space. Our goal is to grow the company by 50 percent each year. We continue to reinvest everything we make back into the company. We know that eventually it is going to pay off.”
It’s a success that’s always in fashion.