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Success Stories

Situation:

Stone Arch Commodities is a Minnesota-based export trading company that was formed in 2016 by Revis Stephenson, Joseph Caruso, Hunter Kaestner, and Max Shimada. It specializes in trading grain commodities used as livestock feed for customers worldwide. Ag Transfer, a subsidiary of Stone Arch Commodities, owns and operates two transload facilities in Minneapolis, Minn. and Chicago, Ill., bringing in bulk commodities by truck and loading them into containers ready for export.

Stone Arch Commodities’ core team had more than three decades of industry experience, and had built great relationships, when they decided to create their company. What they needed next was financing and that’s where SBA-backed loans came in.  

Solution:

Nearly 96 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S., and two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is in foreign countries. The SBA has programs developed specifically to help small business businesses find... Read More

Situation:

Executive Transportation provides premium business class limousine and luxury car services to customers across the country. It also manages holiday tours, weddings, etc. Owner Gus Ortis explained that, “COVID hit us pretty hard.  We are a luxury service and that is the first thing to go. Plus corporate travel was really limited at the time of extreme uncertainty.”

With revenues down significantly, the company went from growing and profitable to being in trouble almost overnight. The drop from 100 reservations a day to 10 during the worst of the crisis forced them to lay off 33 of their staff of 44.

Solution:

To help weather the storm, Ortis reached out for help from the SBA. He received funding from the Payroll Protection Program and used the knowledge and connections he acquired from SBA’s Emerging Leaders Program in 2019. Importantly, Ortis created a culture in his company where staff feel heard and are empowered to create meaningful and... Read More

Situation:

Started in 1973 by the parents of Heidi Oas under the name SmokeMaster, Air Quality Engineering has a long history of focusing on the design, manufacture, and sale of air cleaners. Over the years, they have shifted from specifically focusing on machines that remove tobacco smoke in commercial applications to a more diverse portfolio of air cleaners for a wider customer base at home and abroad.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Air Quality Engineering, Inc. worked to increase production capacity for the XJ-2 Air Negative Pressure/HEPA filtration units for hospitals and the Navy. These HEPA-filtration/negative pressure units quickly convert ordinary patient care rooms into airborne infection isolation rooms, which complied with the CDC’s recommended guidelines for managing patients suspected of having COVID-19 in healthcare settings.

Solution:

Pivoting to meet challenging times takes know-how and capital and Air Quality Engineering, Inc.... Read More

Situation:

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

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