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Success Stories


Deneen Pottery was established in St. Paul, Minn., in 1972 by Peter and Mary. Initially operating out of a two-car garage, today it occupies over 50,000-square-foot facility and employs over 80 skilled craftspeople who produce about 2,800 mugs every day. Each piece is hand-thrown on a potter’s wheel, touched by over 24 pairs of hands, and customized with a Glaze-Engraved™ medallion. Niles Deneen, Peter and Mary’s son has been the company’s president since 2012, after starting in an entry-level position nearly 20-years earlier, and is responsible for all major operational, administrative, marketing and staffing decisions.

Transitioning a business from one generation to the next comes with challenges big and small.  As Peter and Mary were increasingly ready to step away from the day to day, Niles reached out to the SBA for help through the Emerging Leaders Program to increase his business management skills and confidence. 

How the SBA (or SBA partner... Read More


Maud Borup Inc., originally a woman-owned retail candy company, was started in St. Paul, Minn., long before women had the right to vote. U.S. Army veteran Christine Lantinen purchased it in 2005 and focused on selling giftable confections wholesale to specialty and mass retailers, including Whole Foods and Target. Because of her previous experience working with Target buyers, Lantinen was able to create exponential growth, going from $100K to $2M in sales the first year. However, that growth brought great financing challenges initially. 

How the SBA (or SBA partner) Helped:

While transitioning from the storefront was challenging, Lantinen was resourceful.  A family friend backed her efforts in year one and the SBA stepped in to boost the business starting in year two with three consecutive SBA-backed loans. Helping her reach even higher, Lantinen created a three-year growth plan in the SBA’s Emerging Leaders program in 2011.  That led to Lantinen... Read More

When Mohamed Haji trained as an auto body mechanic he dreamed of opening his own shop. After years working in the industry he reached out to one of SBA’s Microlending Program partners, the African Development Center (ADC), to quit dreaming and start doing. However, with a low credit score and limited knowledge of finance, he had some work to do before starting.

How the SBA and partner helped:

Sitting down with ADC counselor Emma Kasiga in 2015, Haji worked on budgeting, paying down debt and disputing errors on his credit report. He also took an entrepreneurial class at ADC and began, with Emma’s guidance, to work on his business plan.

Upon reviewing the plan, his lack of capital and credit history revealed he was not ready to start the whole auto body shop but could begin with a small part of the big vision – the towing business. While it was part of his big picture, he hadn’t considered it as a stepping stone. With the help of ADC and an SBA... Read More


Helping others become better versions of themselves is something that comes naturally to Kirk and Amanda Hendrickson.  This is evidenced by both their current business, Iron Jungle CrossFit in Hutchinson, Minn., and by their previous work as youth ministers in the area.

When his dad died Kirk decided it was time to get more physically fit and joined a CrossFit gym. Discovering that his passion for helping others could be channeled in this way, he spoke with Amanda and they decided to jump into something new. Both come from families of entrepreneurs, so starting their own small business made a lot of sense to them. Deciding to move forward, the Hendricksons contacted SBA’s Microloan Program partner, Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF), for the technical assistance and capital needed to help start their business.

How the SBA and partners helped:

When the Hendricksons went to SWIF as a start-up business in 2014, they received a microloan that... Read More