Coronavirus (COVID-19): Relief options and Additional Resources

Success Stories

What do a life-long love of animals, a degree in Zoology, and getting fired from a high-paying job after 30 years in the corporate world have in common? They all led to Eliza Burr creating Preferred Pet Partners, a pet care/walking/sitting business based in Omaha, Nebraska. “In 2013, I reached what I thought was the pinnacle of my career. I was climbing the corporate ladder, travelling to other countries and around the US – I had the corner office, the title, the money. Everything I’d worked for. Then in 2014 something amazing happened – I lost my job. More specifically, I got fired from my job,” said Burr when asked about the origins of Preferred Pet Partners. Eliza moved into another corporation but couldn’t shake the feeling that she wasn’t in the right place. She wanted something more meaningful. Something closer to her true passion – caring for animals.

Eliza has always stayed close to animals and has spent over 15 years volunteering for humane societies and rescues.... Read More

Mike McFarland, President of Norland International, Inc. In Lincoln, NE, considers his employees as family. “Running a small business with 136 employees, I know every employee. If they are married, I know their wives. If they’re not married, I know their significant others. I know the kids.” So when COVID-19 hit Nebraska, his business manufacturing for the bottled water and craft beer industries was hit hard.  Mike and his partners started Norland International back in 1993 and grew the company from 0 to 136 employees - he was no stranger to the ups and downs that happen in the small business world. But this was different. “[Our] prospects have been waiting to place orders. We have products built and shipped, but customers are waiting to make their final payments, and no one knows how long it will take to recover. We were maxing out our line of credit.” Mike did all he could to cut expenses – they were able to arrange longer credit terms with a supply company, he and his partners... Read More

Wade Mayfield, owner of Omaha-based Thermal Services, Inc., is a big believer in finding your “why” - why you get out of bed every day. Wade’s “why” is very clear – he views business ownership as an “opportunity to change peoples’ lives like mine was changed.” That change began when Wade joined Thermal Services as a sheet metal technician in Sep 2000. He quickly became a service technician and was promoted into a leadership role by the fall of 2002. But that was just the beginning - in 2005 Wade became the VP of Operations, then the president in 2006. Then in April of 2011 he purchased Thermal Services from the owners. Wade enjoyed the challenge of going all the way from service tech to owner. “When you have an extraordinary American dream opportunity really put in front of you it’s more humbling than it is anything. That’s the best way to describe it. You’re able to do something you never believed possible – to be a business owner and be able to impact people’s lives and their... Read More

Amy Johnson, owner of Omaha, Nebraska based LifeLoop, is passionate about families being able to communicate with one another when they can’t be physically together. This passion led her to create LifeLoop – a resident and family engagement platform used by retirement homes, rehabilitation facilities and other such communities. The platform manages a wide range of functions including activity management, digital signage, resident tracking, communication, transportation, maintenance coordination and management, and includes an application for families and residents to communicate and share photos.

We first met Johnson back in 2015 when she entered and won the SBA Nebraska InnovateHER Business Pitch Competition hosted by the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project Women’s Business Center (REAP WBC). The WBC is a resource partner of the Small Business Administration and provides entrepreneurs with microloans, guidance and technical assistance. Johnson said that when she first... Read More