Veteran Business Owner Builds a Team for Success
PORTLAND, Ore. – The U.S. Small Business Administration has resources to help veterans and service-disabled veterans start and grow a small business. From creating a business plan, to finding customers, the SBA with a network of resource partners can help a veteran-owned business succeed.
According to a May 2011 study from the SBA Office of Advocacy, veterans are at least 45 percent more likely to take the plunge into entrepreneurship than people with no active-duty military experience.
In 2007 (the latest data available from the U.S. Census Bureau), veterans owned 2.4 million businesses, or 9 percent of all businesses nationwide, generating $1.2 trillion in receipts and employing nearly 5.8 million people.
When Marshall Doyle settled in Portland, Ore., after four years in the Air Force and another five years in the Air National Guard, he wasn’t thinking about owning a business. He wanted to get a job and support his wife and two young children. Marshall worked his way up through a local property management firm, eventually overseeing 40 employees. But he wasn’t satisfied. “I always felt like I could do more,” said Marshall. “I was always looking for opportunities.” So when a friend of the family introduced him to the owner of Cal-Cert who was looking to sell his business, Marshall jumped at the opportunity.
It meant a $20,000 cut in pay, but the challenge made up for it and in 1998, Marshall went to work at Cal-Cert. Eight months later after learning the ropes, he purchased the company. Marshall had some experience in calibration from serving as Field Systems Mechanic while in the Air Force, but he didn’t have a lot of knowledge about running a small business. That’s when he turned to the Small Business Development Center at Clackamas Community College.
“The SBDC helped me understand the value of my time,” said Marshall. “I was working 70-80 hours a week and not charging enough.” The SBDC helped Marshall evaluate and raise his prices, and he didn’t lose a single customer.
“Marshall is a tenacious, dedicated business owner,” said Rob Campbell, director of the Clackamas Small Business Development Center. “He just needed help figuring out the logistical side of owning a business. Now, the table has turned and he is one of our best guest speakers – helping other small businesses learn from his early mistakes.”
Something else Marshall learned was the importance of his employees. Having started with just himself, his wife, his brother and one other employee, growing took some getting used to. In 2007, Marshall met Teresa Paschal for lunch, she had been working for Cal-Cert’s main competitor. After a five-hour lunch, she came to work at Cal-Cert. Her specialty was in finance and she was known for creating efficiencies and reducing waste. And that’s just what she did.
“She asked me all of the hard questions,” said Marshall. “But they were the right questions, and just what we needed to grow and be successful.”
Teresa’s favorite part of working at a small business is that each employee is heard and helps to ensure success. “Marshall has great ideas and has built amazing relationships with our customers and across our industry,” said Teresa. “But, it’s together that we’ve built a team that supports Cal-Cert’s vision and culture.”
Cal-Cert now employs 30 and recently opened a second office in Denver, Col. “Our employees range in age from 22 year old to 65 years old and they are truly what make us special,” said Marshall. “Together, our team has 170 years of calibration experience – they know what to do and they do it well.”
For more information about veteran business programs visit sba.gov/veteran.