Success Stories

Damon and Sonja Draught at their Dairy Queen Treat Store in Watertown, NY.

Army Veterans “Living the Dream” with SBA Help

There’s hot fudge, strawberries, chocolate sprinkles, rainbow sprinkles, cherries and whipped cream, but the only topping that suits Sonja and Damon Draught these days is success.  Three years ago the couple became Dairy Queen franchisees in Watertown, NY.

The U.S. Army took the Ohio natives all over the world, including Germany for 12 years, before bringing them to Fort Drum in Northern New York. After retiring as a Master Sergeant in 2012, Damon spent a year taking care of their three boys while Sonja continued working as a U.S. Army civilian employee on post. The time and freedom of retirement allowed the couple to dream of what their next chapter could be….

"It always stayed in the back of our minds to open a Dairy Queen since we grew up with the franchise in Ohio and there weren't any around Fort Drum. We were interested in opening a quick-service restaurant, but not until after Damon retired,” says Sonja.... Read More

America 2.0, built by Scarano Boat Building with help from SBA 504 program and ESCDC

When 10-year-old John Scarano added a mast to a World War II-era bomber fuel tank and set sail on Kinderhook Lake in the Adirondack Mountains, it was the launch of a lifetime career in the boating world. For the past 40 years, John has built a business transforming his ideas from paper to port-side. John’s brother Rick joined the startup company in 1984 and together they have steered Scarano Boat Building on a course for success.

“We first took a boat to the Newport Boat Show in 1984 and realized we couldn’t compete with the larger sailboat companies that were in the market. So we changed to the passenger vessel boat market, which was easier to get exposure in, and built the 65-foot Dutch Apple II in 1986,” says Rick.

After five years, the brothers moved Scarano Boat Building into its permanent home, an 88,000-square-foot warehouse in the Port of Albany, NY. The former chemical plant features soaring ceilings, huge garage doors, and most importantly, access to the... Read More

Spotted Zebra Learning Center Executive Director Sheri Townsend.

For Albany-native Sheri Townsend, autism was never an integral part of her life.  However, that all changed when the nation’s fastest growing developmental disability hit home.  After Sheri and husband Scott welcomed their twins Alex and Mackenzie in 2002; they learned at 18-months Alex was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. 

The Townsends quickly recognized that autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that begins typically in early childhood and affects communication skills, social development, and behavior.  They also learned from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 1 in 68 American children are on the autism spectrum. For the next year, the Townsend family was busy juggling Alex’s early-intervention services from the county and Sheri’s full-time role as the commissioner of Youth and Work Services for the city of Albany. 

When Alex was ready for a more... Read More

From left to right: Lakeside Innovative Technologies LLC President Bob Hulchanski and SBA Syracuse District Director Bernard J. Paprocki.

Over 30 years ago the U.S. Army rolled out the popular recruiting slogan, “Be all that you can be, ‘cause we need you in the Army!” East Syracuse-native Bob Hulchanski joined the Army with that in mind, serving his country and learning skills as a machinist that would last a lifetime. Hulchanski’s relationship with the Army has come full circle, now that his small business supplies precision-machined parts for U.S. stationed at home and in combat operations elsewhere. 

Hulchanski was an ideal soldier: the top graduate of his machining school in the Army and chosen to be in the first Army “Be all you can be” television ad filmed at Fort Hood in Texas for the 1979 NFL Super Bowl. He spent two years at the motor pool in Fort Hood, often rebuilding broken parts that needed immediate replacement during military exercises. Hulchanski... Read More