Company Draws a Straight Line to Success with a Little Help from the SBA

Lee Gregory, owner of Sir Lines-A-Lot

When Lee Gregory and his wife Meggin started Sir Lines-A-Lot in 2004 with a single pick-up truck and a used striping machine, they believed that if they provided excellent customer service and a quality product, the business would grow.  And it did, but slowly.  With stagnant or slow growth for three or four years, their banker recommended Lee participate in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders Program.

The Emerging Leaders Program focuses on small, poised-for-growth companies with potential for job creation.  The seven-month intensive, executive entrepreneurship education series includes approximately 100 hours of classroom time per participant and provides the opportunity for small business owners to work with experienced mentors, attend workshops and develop connections with their peers, city leaders and financial communities.

Nearly 70 percent of the graduates have achieved revenue growth and more than 80 percent created new jobs or retained all existing jobs.  In Minnesota, the program’s success is clear with examples like Sir Lines A-Lot, which has seen its business grow tenfold since taking the class.  Gregory credits the class with giving him the insight and boost in both skills and confidence to take the business to the next level. 

When he started the class Gregory was looking for that something different to help the business grow.  The class broadened his perspective and helped him see the benefits of adding both debt and employees to the business – beyond what he’d learned in business school.  About it he said, “I didn’t have anything to compare things with in school – in the Emerging Leaders class I had my own business to make the learning relevant.”

Prior to taking the class, Gregory, like many others in business was afraid of debt.  He points out that on a personal level it’s seen as a negative, but in business it’s a tool with which to grow.  And grow it has. Currently leasing space, Sir Lines-A-Lot is buying a much larger building in 2016 to accommodate its continued growth.  It has grown from from restriping around 40 small parking lots in its first season to more than 1,000 parking lots in 2015, as well as hundreds of miles of highway striping.

Sir Lines-A-Lot is a Certified Veteran Owned Small Business and in addition to the help from the SBA’s Emerging Leaders Program, credits the MN DOT’s policy of working with veterans for some of its success.  Thanks to the set asides for veteran-owned businesses with the MN DOT program, Sir Lines A-Lot went from 100 percent parking lot striping in 2005 to 15 percent parking lot striping and 85 percent highway striping in 2015. The lessons Gregory learned in the Emerging Leaders Program helped him see the way forward to growing his business and add 13 employees to his yearly payroll.

Company Name: 
Sir Lines-A-Lot
Location: 
Minneapolis, MN