Success Stories

Wedgewood Wedding and Banquet Center - 2012 Family-Owned Business of the Year & Success Story

Wedgewood Wedding and Banquet Center chain, founded, owned and operated by the Zaruka Family began in 1986.  Located in Camarillo,,California, Wedgewood was founded when John and Linda Zaruka took out two SBA-backed loans from National Bank of California to buy a failing golf course restaurant, which they converted to banquet service exclusively.  From this humble beginning, the Zaruka’s now offer 17 wedding locations throughout California. 

Starting with one employee, the family-owned business now employs 100 full-time and 300 part-time employees - in the last three years alone, two hundred employees have been added (a 100 percent increase).  Revenues from 2011 will exceed $20 million and just as important they have maintained an “A” guest rating. 

Both the Zaruka children, Bill and Stacy, worked alongside their parents at an early age and then went on to get degrees at excellent hospitality colleges, eventually returning to the family business as partial owners. ... Read More

Diversified Risk Management, Inc. - 2012 Women in Business Champion & Success Story

In a male-dominated field of mostly retired law enforcement professionals, Patricia A. Kotze-Ramos, owner and founder of Diversified Risk Management, Inc., is a champion for bringing more women into the private investigation field. 

Since 2002, when she co-founded the firm using a SBA loan.  Kotze-Ramos has handled thousands of matters involving employment, civil and criminal matters.  In 2005, DRM Inc. grew from 500 sq. ft. to 2,500 sq. ft. and she now employs approximately fifty employees and contractors. 

Her company serves small business as well as Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, attorneys, non-profits and individuals who require the best in investigations, training, background checks and security services.  Having been in the consulting business for over 27 years, Kotze-Ramos has served as a role model for other women and actively mentors other women-business owners through several boards, committees and organizations. 

In addition to running a... Read More

Elizabeth J. Figueroa & Company Textile and Design House - Los Angeles Success Story

In Los Angeles, the fashion capital of the West Coast, a small upstart textile and design house has ignited interest as a new trend setter.  Elizabeth J. Figueroa & Company, owned and founded by the same Elizabeth J. Figueroa, launched in November 2009.  Figueroa decided it was her time to shine and with over 28 years of garment industry experience Figueroa brought along a well-established, national and international clientele.

Figueroa knew she had experience in the textile and design part of the business but wanted to ensure a smooth seamless launch – in January of 2010 she met Marsel Watts, currently the Program Director of the Women’s Business Center hosted by Valley Economic Development Center, who guided Figueroa through the company’s launch.

“I truly recommend the VEDC for support and guidance to any company - no matter what the profession may be,” said Figueroa.  “Since I first was introduced to the Women’s Business Center, we have been connected in more... Read More

Stevenson Fitness Gets Lift from Local Small Business Development Center

When athletes—be it an NFL quarterback, or a working mother of two—want to bring positive change to a workout routine, they seek out a personal trainer.  When an aspiring or existing business needs that same kind of inspiration and motivation, the owner should look to a Small Business Development Center.

That is what Chris Stevenson, owner of Stevenson Fitness, did, almost by chance, in the summer of 2010 while finalizing his plans to open a new 7,000 sq. ft. fitness center in Oak Park, California. 

Stevenson, a man of many talents, grew up in Ohio and graduated with a business degree from a liberal arts university.  He is a martial artist, who competed at a national level, with a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and in Hapkido.  After college, he moved to California and found himself waiting tables, doing stunt work in the television and movie industries, and teaching martial arts.  This continued, until his mom, one day, said, “Chris, you have a degree, you should use it... Read More

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