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Success Stories

Stephen Shortland opened his own franchise of DES Employment, Nine2Five, in Bridgeton, Missouri in 2008. Shortland has been in the staffing industry for over 25, years helping to provide opportunities in the greater St. Louis area. Even with this experience, when the pandemic hit his company had significant obstacles to overcome. Workers were struggling and his bank balance dwindled to $800. 

“I was sweating bullets and not sure what was going to happen.” Shortland said. Shortland heard about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance. He applied for PPP at his local bank St. Johns Bank Trust and Company in St. Louis. It took three-weeks for his $86,000 PPP application to be approved and funded. His business was also eligible and received $10,000 in the EIDL Advance shortly after. Nine2Five has eight full-time employees, one part-time employee and one contract staff member. Thanks to SBA COVID funding, he was able keep... Read More

Jeremy Buchheit took a rather unconventional route into business when he started Synergy Medical in 2005. The U.S. Marine Corps veteran had no experience in his chosen industry, no customers to call upon and worst of all no products to sell. But by 2007 he had designed, developed and mass produced 18 products devoted to the prevention of cross contamination and protection of patient care advocates.

In 2007, Buchheit’s products were voted #1 over five other international conglomerates including the top three Fortune 500 firms in the industry. He contracted with four international manufacturing facilities, developed and maintained a supply chain strategy and streamlined these products to 25-plus healthcare facilities in a six-state region. This move not only gave him a platform from which to work, but access to advanced technologies in the medical marketplace. With an eye on the future, at the 10-year mark Buchheit began pursuing additional training and guidance on how to... Read More


In 2006 Melinda and Teresa Barbaglia took ownership of C&B Lift Truck Service from their parents. They inherited a 10,000 square foot building with four service vans and nine employees, ten if you include the company cat.  The challenges of managing a small business in the current economic environment created a roller coaster ride complete with problems finding qualified mechanics, and dealing with the health and business insurance industries.  On top of all that, the daily struggle to stay competitive was ever pressing.


The sisters connected with the Grace Hill Women’s Business Center.  Counselor Narmen Hunter helped Melinda and Teresa restructure the company’s website, diversify their product offerings and develop focused marketing and advertising opportunities to improve the company’s visibility.   

Successful Impact/Outcome:

Melinda and Teresa are on a better course for growth and their profits continue to increase each year.  They’ve... Read More
SBA’s 2017 Minority-Owned Business of the Year for Eastern Missouri: Geodata IT, LLC

Glance at any number of magazine articles or websites devoted to entrepreneurship and a recurring theme quickly emerges. Entrepreneurs often want to solve a problem, fulfill a need or make the world better. But they want to do it on their own terms.  That pretty much describes Justin Bennett, President and CEO of Geodata IT, a St. Louis based technology company.  Bennett, a U.S. Air Force veteran, sought the freedom to solve difficult challenges using the methods and technology of his choosing.  After being honorably discharged from the military, Bennett expanded his experience base through his work with various federal contractors including NJVC, Raytheon, and SAIC.  In 2012, Bennett gave in to his hunger for independence and founded Geodata IT, a business specializing in providing solutions to national security and geospatial mission requirements.  Early in the process he connected with the Small Business Administration and its resource partner SCORE.
“When I wrote my... Read More