Success Stories

Photo of Benjamin Loehrer

SBA Funding Helps House Thriving Gym

Benjamin Loehrer began weight training on his own at age 12. The strength and fitness lifestyle meshed well with the farm life in South Dakota where he grew up. At 15, he entered his first power lifting competition and loved it. At 17, he competed in his first bodybuilding meet. The competitions fostered his love of training hard and competing. 

After graduating from high school Loehrer moved to Minneapolis to pursue bodybuilding full time. On his first day he walked into Los Campeones Gym and describes it as one of the best days of his life. He went from training alone in a barn to training in a fully equipped gym with like-minded people. From there he became a competitor and personal trainer.

By 2010, Los Campeones Gym had become poorly managed and was on the verge of closing. Loehrer purchased it with partners and became a business owner at age 20. By 2013, the business was doing well and Benjamin bought out his partners... Read More

Photo of Mike Wolbrink

Founded in 2012, Azule Staffing’s primary mission is to put veterans to work in lucrative, rewarding vocations outside of the military. In addition to helping his fellow veterans find jobs, Azule offers job coaching, mentoring, resume refinement and more. 

The owner, Michael Wolbrink, is a former U.S. Army Airborne Ranger with a proven commitment to the veteran community. Wolbrink’s “never quit” attitude began as a young man detasseling corn and delivering newspapers in Iowa. It continued at Wheaton College where he earned a ROTC scholarship. His attitude propelled him through Ranger school, serving as a general’s aide, the Army Reserves and more.

To help him help others, Wolbrink has received assistance from SBA’s partner the MN Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), including mentoring, Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business certification and more.  In 2012 when he began working with PTAC, Wolbrink’s company had 6 internal employees and placed 485... Read More

Photo of Gloria Freeman

SBA’s Funding and Emerging Leaders Program Helped Her Succeed

Gloria Freeman, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Minneapolis-based Olu’s Home, Inc. and Olu’s Center, was chosen as Minnesota’s Small Business Person of the Year for her personal achievements and contributions to her community.


Gloria's desire to serve those in her community is rooted in her childhood. Her mother was a prominent public speaker and advocate for the mentally ill. In 1999 she founded Olu’s Home, a licensed care organization that provides residential and in-home services to the elderly and persons with developmental disabilities and mental illness. Today, the company operates 11 group homes and has over 100 employees in the Minneapolis area.


The company began the intergenerational care center, Olu's Center, in 2015. It provides a day program for children and seniors where they can interact with each other. Olu’s Center is a safe space for the young and... Read More

JF Kruse employee working on jewelry

Jim Kruse, Founder and Melissa Kelley, President of J.F. Kruse Jewelers based in Saint Cloud, have been named the Minnesota Small Business Persons of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The Small Business Person of the year is selected annually based on growth in sales or unit volume, increase in the number of employees, financial strength, innovativeness of product or service and evidence of contributions to community-oriented projects. Gail Ivers, Vice President of the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce and Barry Kirkhoff, Executive Director of the Central Minnesota Small Business Development Center (CMSBDC) at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, MN nominated Kruse and Kelley for this award.

As a teenager, Jim Kruse discovered a talent for sales while potting plants at a greenhouse in St. Paul.  In 1979, he was hired at D.J. Bitzan Jewelers in St. Cloud, as a bench jeweler and trained as a diamond setter.  However he soon found himself in sales... Read More