Success Stories

Onondaga SBDC Regional Director Joan Powers, Best in Bloom, Inc. owner Steve Jocz, and SBA Syracuse District Director Bernard J. Paprocki

Right before Valentine’s Day, you’ll find floral wholesaler Stephen Jocz busy at work in his 46 degree warehouse on Thompson Road. Getting thousands of roses and other flowers prepped for the most romantic day of the year gives Steve an extra twinkle in his eye. “When you love what you do, it’s not work!” he laughs.

Flowers have been the focus for Steve’s life: giving Steve a meaningful career in an industry he fell in love with, meeting his wife while on a delivery, and even taking a chance to start his own business. Steve started selling flowers out of a delivery truck in 1993 for a wholesaler, and found great success in providing superior customer service to the retail florists on his route. He was promoted to sales manager and then again to store manager when his sales numbers kept outperforming other branches. Selling flowers just came naturally to him, and interacting with customers made his job not a job at all.

After nearly 20 years in the industry, Steve... Read More

Erik and Bonnie Johnsen, new owners of The Costumer.

It’s not every day you get a chance to purchase a century-old company, but that’s exactly what happened to Erik and Bonnie Johnsen.

Last October the couple purchased The Costumer, a Schenectady, NY-headquartered business that got its start in 1917 by Anna White. As the story goes, White’s seamstress neighbor moved from the neighborhood, but her customers kept knocking on White’s door and a business was born. In 1974, drama teachers Kathe and Jack Sheehan purchased the company for $25,000 after visiting to rent a costume for one of their high school productions. The Sheehans built up the business as a labor of love and developed The Costumer into the theatre support company it is today. After Jack passed away in 2006, Kathe continued to lead the business forward, but recognized in 2016 that it was time to bring on the next act.  

Enter the Johnsens. After spending over 20 years with  international banks in the United Kingdom and Singapore managing  operations in Africa... Read More

Saving Face Barber Shop owner Anthony Nappa cuts SBA Syracuse District Director Bernard J. Paprocki's hair.

Anthony Nappa discovered his career at age 12, when he started cutting his own hair and turned his family’s home basement into a makeshift barber shop for family and friends. While still in high school at the age of 17, Anthony apprenticed with a local barber shop for two years to become a licensed barber. Shortly after graduation, Anthony started his own business, Saving Face Barber Shop in Camillus, NY.

“The purpose of Saving Face is to provide clients with unrivaled quality in all of the services we provide. The atmosphere is ideal for men of all ages to escape and enjoy the traditional barbershop experience with a modern makeover,” said Nappa. “The styles are relevant, the products are innovative, and the staff is relaxed and friendly.”

Nappa’s cutting-edge barber shop offers haircuts, hot-towel shaves, facials and more with complimentary beverage stations, flat screen televisions and a full-size pool table for customers to enjoy while waiting for their... Read More

Susan Jablon's mosaics on the set of "HELL'S KITCHEN" television show

Artist Susan Jablon fell in love with glass as a young girl, intrigued by her mother’s vivid blue glass bowl and the way the color interacted with sunlight. After raising her own children and returning to the corporate world, Jablon looked for a creative outlet outside of the office. She started out purchasing small amounts of glass tile to run art classes in Binghamton, NY for adults and children, eventually ordering in bulk. With so much tile on hand, she used the internet to help sell the extra supply. On her 50th birthday, Susan Jablon gave herself the best present of all: focusing full-time on her glass tile startup, Susan Jablon Mosaics, LLC.

Creativity and innovation are more than her company product features- they are the hallmark of Jablon’s leadership. To create simple sheets of mosaics that can be easily installed, Jablon worked with an architect to engineer a prototype resin tray for the individual glass tiles to be placed into face down. The tray mold offered a... Read More