Success Stories

Entrepreneur Designs Her Own Future

Joan Ford’s home is more than where her heart is---it’s also the location of her quilt design company, Hummingbird Highway, LLC. Ford’s business is one example of a growing small business sector: more than one out of 10 households in the U.S. has a full or part-time home-based business, according to a recent study by SBA’s Office of Advocacy.

An accounting degree from Syracuse University was the foundation for Joan Ford’s corporate career, with positions at GE, GE Capital, boutique executive recruiting firms, and not-for-profit agencies. Ford was able to explore creative outlets outside the office through scrapbooking and knitting Norwegian sweaters. Little did she know that learning to use a sewing machine to finish the sweaters she knitted would lead to her own business!

A beginning quilting class in February 2003 was an eye-opening experience for Ford. Instead of the drab, dreary fabrics she imagined, Ford was impressed with the vibrancy and variety of... Read More

Stable Owner Along for the Ride

Over a dozen years ago, Wendy Washeleski gave her coworker’s niece a horse riding lesson at her home. What started out as a hobby is now the 300-acre Fall Brook Stable, a successful small business in Taberg, New York. Washeleski left her position as a psychological assistant and started her business in 1996 with two horses and a small outdoor arena. Today, Fall Brook Stable has 19 horses, four full-time and up to 10 seasonal employees, and offers a one-stop shop for horse enthusiasts from Camden, Rome, Utica, Boonville and Westmoreland.

Washeleski’s business location in her hometown hasn’t reined in her desire to travel; she explained, “It feels good to be in Taberg. The horse industry allows me to travel all over the country for training and shows, but at the end of the day, I have my business and my family all in one spot and that’s all that really matters.”

As she gained loyal clients, Washeleski continued to reinvest in the business with the purchase of... Read More

SBA Recognizes Syracuse Daycare For Small Business Success

Stella Penizotto received an Associate’s Degree with Honors from Onondaga Community College in Early Childhood Education in 1990 and her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education in 1992 from SUNY Oswego. Soon after graduation, Stella realized that teaching jobs were scarce and decided to return to her first passion – working with young children. In July of 1994, Stella opened Shining Stars Daycare, Inc. in East Syracuse, NY. The initial center had a capacity of 32 children and employed four people. Over the course of the next 15 years, Shining Stars expanded to three full-time centers with a combined capacity of 363 children and 78 employees.

The road to such remarkable success was not without obstacles and Stella took each in stride, never giving up until Shining Stars achieved the next level of expansion. Over the past 12 years, Stella and her husband John have worked with the Small Business Development Center at Onondaga Community College. Stella first contacted... Read More

Architect Drafts Design for Downtown Digs

As an architect, Anthony Catsimatides spends his days translating residential and commercial client design concepts into reality. As a small business owner, Anthony has been his own toughest customer during the renovation of Open Atelier’s new location in downtown Syracuse. The 6,000 square-foot Warren Street building represents more than just room to grow for Anthony’s architecture firm, Anthony explains, “I’m a big advocate of revitalizing downtown Syracuse, and part of my desire to buy this building is to stake hold and become part of the community.”

With the financial partnership of SBA, M&T Bank and the Greater Syracuse Business Development Corporation through the 504 loan program, Open Atelier acquired the building in 2009 and transitioned from the Cazenovia location in early 2010. To achieve an open, light-filled work space, Anthony supervised deconstruction of the cubicle-creating partition walls, fixed windows and dropped ceilings inherited from the... Read More