Success Stories

Knowing Your Place in the Past Can Help Assure Your Place in the Future: How SBA Resource Partners Helped EyeSeeMe LLC Turn Their Vision into Reality

When she was a young child, Pamela Blair was spellbound by the stories her father, Shadrock Porter, would weave of the leaders and peoples of the ancient great kingdoms of Africa.  Thanks to sage planning advice from St. Louis-area SBA resource partners, she’s joining her husband, Jeffrey, in an effort to bring tales of African heroes and great African Americans to children in the community.

The family-owned business, EyeSeeMe, provides books, games, puzzles, posters and music to highlight positive images to children of Biblical and African American heroes.  The couple launched its web site in April 2012, and is becoming a steady presence at vendor fairs and school fundraising events.

While Pamela was proud of the history of her ancestors, and eagerly shared those stories with her curious children, she found the knowledge of their African past wasn’t well understood by their school friends.  Pamela would visit classrooms, and was astonished that there were no pictures... Read More

Business Success at Any Age? Missouri SBTDC Assists Baby Boomer John House of JHS Specialties, LLC

In our fifties, many of us count down the years until we can retire.  We join AARP.  We start thinking about the money we should have put aside over the years and look at how we can put aside a little more.  We see our children leave home. We start thinking about things we’ve put off that we’d like to do before we get too old.  Often we look at what we’re going to leave our children as a legacy.  John House was 56 years old and considering all of this and more when he started JHS Specialties, LLC, a green product industrial supply sales company, in July 2011. 

House medically retired from the Army as a 71L, Clerk-Typist; an 11B, Infantryman; and 05C, SCUBA Diver.  He had lost the sight in his right eye and developed bad knees but had other work experience as a police officer, a salesperson and volunteering as a SCUBA trainer for Rescue and Recovery workers.  Because his wife has a lifelong debilitating disease, together their medical expenses total about $7000 a month…but... Read More

All of us are occasionally blessed to run across people at just the right time in our lives to create a positive and sometimes life-changing impact. It might be a teacher, professor, coach, clergy member, or workplace mentor. Perhaps surprisingly it is often a counselor with one of SBA’s resource partners. That's what happened to Robin Boyce of the Hastings Group while she attended a business development class at Grace Hill Women’s Business Center.

Boyce was working for a radio station, bringing in more than $690,000 in yearly revenue to the station but she wasn’t getting much in return. After 30 years of experience in broadcast journalism, sales, marketing, and public relations within the ever-changing and uncertain media world, she began to wonder, “Why don’t I work for myself and keep the profits?” She founded The Hastings Group in 2008, naming it for her grandmother, who was her biggest career supporter.

As she got into the nuts and bolts of business ownership... Read More

There are many trite but true expressions about dealing with adverse situations—“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” “A diamond was once a lump of coal that was put under pressure,” and “Necessity is the mother of invention,” are a few that spring to mind. Many famous people have quotes on adversity—you can find web sites devoted to these quotes. Gloria Carter-Hicks of Hicks-Carter-Hicks, LLC, (H-C-H) exemplifies the best of these expressions. Driven, passionate, dedicated, and honorable could all be used to describe the owner, CEO, and president of this management consulting firm. She started her own business in 1999 when the company for which she was working transferred her job function to Chicago. St. Louis was home and she wanted to stay so she made her lemonade from that lemon. At that point, she had 16 years of experience in business—sales, operations, and human resources experience in retail, food service, financial... Read More