Success Stories

After Christy Malone’s second daughter was born, she became concerned with ingredients used in disposable diapers. Searching for an organic cloth diaper alternative, she came up empty and decided to start Smart Bottoms. 

“My husband and I are both from small business families, so it was in our blood to start a business,” said Malone. “We are able to provide local families with jobs and help the local economy. That is why we are very committed to making sure that all of our products are made here in the U.S. too.”

Cloth diaper customers are eco-conscious and like local and made-in-the-USA products. “When we first started the company, we were the only U.S. cloth diaper manufacturer that was making an organic diaper,” said Malone. “Since then, we have stood apart from our competitors in our customer service. We stand behind our products. People very rarely have any type of quality issues with our products, and when they do, they know that we will replace or fix them.”... Read More

When people first meet Maria Marin, they see a petite Latina business woman in the trash and recycling business, an industry that is dominated by men.  Marin, CEO and founder of Unlimited Recycling, was inspired to start her company after receiving countless complaints about illegal dumping in the St. Clair River and Lake Huron during the time she worked for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  She decided to do something positive and launched her recycling business in 1999.  She became certified as an SBA 8(a) contractor in 2004 and business started to take off. 

In 2008, she received her first a five year recycling and trash disposal contract with the U.S. Department of Army, worth nearly $2,000,000, through the SBA 8(a) program.  Since that time, Marin has increased her dumpster inventory to nearly 90 containers, purchased four additional trucks and added other services, including balers, compactors, and hospital cleanouts services.  Unlimited Recycling is the... Read More

Russell Beaver, President and Owner of RB Construction Company, has been active in the construction industry for over 55 years. An ironworker by trade, Mr. Beaver founded RB Construction Company in 1984. Initially RB performed small concrete and steel erection projects. After establishing a formal builder agreement with NUCOR Building Systems in the mid-eighties, the company expanded its business to complete numerous pre-engineered metal building projects. In the mid-nineties, the company established a formal builder agreement with A&S Building Systems, L.P., which allowed RB to offer a wider array of products and services. The company has maintained that relationship for more than 20 years, and has received numerous awards of excellence in the execution of product design, delivery and finish. RB Construction Company has added distribution of United Structures of America, making it one of the premier, minority based pre-engineered building companies in of Michigan.

In... Read More

In the fall of 2014, when 7-Eleven announced it was shutting down franchises, Joe and Shannon Orriss made a life changing decision. After six years of operating the franchise, they were given the option to buy their store. “We made this store what it is, and the majority of customers come here because it’s us, not because it’s a 7-Eleven,” Orriss said. “We’ve put so much of ourselves into this place, we couldn’t just walk away. And there are six of us who would be out of a job if we did.” Thus began their venture outside the franchise world and into the world of preparing for and becoming business owners.

7-Eleven indicated they wanted to move quickly so Orriss immediately started researching ways to update and improve the store, and figuring out what the total project would cost. He contacted the Michigan Small Business Development Center regional office in Flint for help in putting together a business plan and in preparing to get financing. SBDC Regional Director Marsha... Read More