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Success Stories

Claudia Folzman and Dave Edgar, Iron Construction, Inc.

Founded in 2001 by Claudia Folzman and Dave Edgar, Iron Construction, Inc. began with the vision of creating a non-traditional commercial general contracting company where executive management was actively involved with projects and clients. It is this vision that has shaped the core values of Iron Construction, placing the highest importance on client relationships.

As demand for Iron Construction’s services increased, Folzman and Edgar decided to build a permanent home for their company instead of continuing to rent a facility. Partnering with Bay Area Development Company and Wells Fargo Bank, they purchased a 27,000 square foot space in Sunnyvale in 2013 and began extensive renovations that include utilizing geothermal energy built to LEED Gold standards. In addition to being extremely energy efficient, the new location gives Folzman and Edgar the room they need to double their workforce over time.

Iron Construction places high importance on caring: being socially... Read More

Nancy Charraga

            Nancy Charraga is passionate about fair trade imports, preserving Mexican traditions, and working with indigenous artisans.  Nancy came to the US from Chiapas, Mexico. It shows in her business, a Mexican folk art store.  She sells folk art, jewelry, clothing, and party decorations. 

            Nancy started selling Casa Bonampak merchandise at street fairs in 1996. Her business evolved into a storefront at 24th and Mission streets, en el Corazon de la Mision (in the heart of the Mission) in San Francisco. She outgrew the space, and moved her business to a bigger space on Valencia Street.  Her clients have ranged from wedding parties to tech startups.  She offers custom orders, retail, wholesale, and online.

            Nancy got help to improve her business through the Women's Initiative for Self Employment, a Women’s Business Center supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration. She started in flea markets but it wasn’t until she went through the... Read More

Third Generation Keeps Manufacturing in Oakland

Joe Lucasey, an Italian immigrant, started a TV and radio repair shop out of his home, but he wanted to get out of retail.  He started making tables in his garage, which he then sold to local stores transporting them himself in the family’s station wagon.  On a good day, he was home early and the car was empty.  On a bad day, he was home late and the car was still full.

The turning point for the business came when Joe discovered a new niche.  People were stealing TVs out of hotels.  Joe had the solution – the Lucasey lockdown, a combination mount and lock.  A variation of the original device is still sold by Lucasey Manufacturing sixty years later.  Today, under the leadership of Joe’s grandson Chuck, Lucasey Manufacturing is the leader in television mounting systems and customized airport screening tables.

Formerly known affectionately as “Diablo” for the mischief he caused on the factory floor in his first job at the family business, CEO Chuck Lucasey now manages... Read More

Urban Farmers and Young Entrepreneurs

How many business owners get a chance to discuss fiscal policy with the President of the United States at the White House?  Not many.  Nikhil Arora and Alex Velez had the opportunity in November of 2012, along with eleven other business owners.  But how did they get to the level of success that merits an invitation to a tête-a-tête in the Roosevelt Room?

Back in 2009, Nikhil and Alex decided to forego lucrative careers in investment banking and consulting to become full-time, urban mushroom farmers.  Classmates at UC Berkeley, the two were enchanted by the ability to grow gourmet mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds.

“We fell in love with this ‘waste-to-food’ model our last semester,” recalled Nikhil. “We started off with some test buckets in Alex's fraternity kitchen closet and a $5,000 grant from our Chancellor.”

Today that Oakland-based business is known as Back to the Roots and employs 15 employees. “Our vision is to connect families to food through fun and... Read More