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Success Stories

Melimar Company, Inc. has been a supplier of spare parts and equipment for the mining, banana, beverage, paper and plastics industries in Latin America since 1994.   When Marco Munera started Melimar Company, Inc. - 22 years ago - his first transaction was for a brass nozzle that he sold from a room in his New Jersey house to a Colombian importer. Marco’s problem? He didn’t have the money to buy it and ship it! So, like many other start-up business owners, he borrowed $50.00 from a family friend to makehis first sale. Marco also borrowed his father-in-law’s credit cards to purchase inventory and decided to share an office with a friend.   Initially, Melimar catered to banana growers and the beverage industry in Colombia, but then, expanded their salesto Ecuador and Venezuela. Today, Melimar also serves the mining industry, paper mills, plastic, forestry, fertilizer, steel manufacturing, engineering companies and ports in countries like Chile, Peru, Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua,... Read More
Julie Shipley, owner of The Soup Shop
Unable to satisfy her discerning taste for delicious steamy, savory soup, Julie Shipley armed herself with pots, pans, and a kitchen stocked with only the finest ingredients she could find. Recipe after recipe was tried and tested under her close “soupervision” until they passed a strict taste test.   Then Julie started out by catering to restaurants who loved her incredible, attitude-filled, bountiful bowls of gourmet, homemade soup goodness. With customers wanting more, the Soup Shop was born in 2009.   The Soup Shop story began in the back of a friend’s café on a ¾ table with 2 burners and a couple of pots,” said Shipley, who at that time found her recently attended cooking class did not truly prepare her for the mission she would embark upon.   Within a year, she was delivering weekly orders to 20 restaurants which required a larger facility. “Every week after cooking for restaurants, I had soup left over so I decided to see what would happen if I opened my door to the public and... Read More
Sarah Davis-Brazier, owner of Liberty Academy and Preschool

In 2004, with help from a U.S. Small Business Administration 504 Loan, Sarah Davis-Brazier purchased an abandoned property in Northwest Miami-Dade County Florida that was being used as a house of prostitution and illicit drug use.

 After overcoming numerous challenges and setbacks with the County’s Planning and Zoning Department, Hurricane Wilma, and neighborhood vandals, Mrs. Brazier converted the neighborhood eyesore into Liberty Academy Daycare and Preschool.

When the school opened its doors in April 2006 it welcomed 19 children and employed 5 full-time teachers and staffers. Using her skills as a 24-year former Assistant Vice President with AT&T/Lucent Technologies, Mrs. Brazier quickly grew Liberty Academy to over 91 children and 15 full-time employees who reside in the community it serves.

Building on that early success, Mrs. Brazier sought to expand Liberty Academy to the blighted and vacant property next door. She approached many lenders over the... Read More

Aston Lu, founder of Ocho Rios-Miami

After nearly three decades in business, the owners of specialty foods distributor Ocho Rios International are no strangers to the challenges and demands of growing a business. In 2014, when a credit line became vital when negotiating with potential suppliers, COO Aston Lue sought the guidance of the SBDC at Florida International University.

The quest for cash had drawn Lue away from the daily operations of the business and he needed to act quickly. “As the number of credit worthy customers grew, we required a line of credit because the products we import are in high demand and require prompt payment,” said Lue, who founded the company in 1987.

“We needed a cash outlay because many Far East suppliers are C.O.D.” Lue describes the SBDC at FIU mentor that worked with Ocho Rios as “a wizard at financial matters,” helping secure a line of credit from Capital Bank. Working closely with Lue and his partners, they put Ocho Rios on the right track for continued growth. “The... Read More