Success Stories

For many entrepreneurs, one of the best features of small business ownership is the ability to innovate and find a market for that creation. For Borough Furnace, recycling car brake rotors and a modern take on classic cast-iron cookware formed a unique story of small business success.

“I had done a lot of work doing design for other manufacturers, and starting the business gave me the freedom to control the whole process. When you design something and then see it actually made from start to finish, I think it affects the function of the design,” says founder John Truex.

Shortly after moving from New York City to Syracuse to teach industrial design at Syracuse University, Truex paired his degree in furniture design and a love for cooking to craft cookware with modern style and function. The design was just as important as the ability to use a manufacturing process that was environmentally sustainable. In addition to recycling the iron from brake rotors, Truex designed... Read More

Some people see an opportunity and they run with it; in Ranga Ranganathan’s case, he saw an opportunity and latched on to it. Five years ago, when the opportunity presented itself, Ranganathan purchased Nielsen Hardware, a Binghamton-based manufacturer of latches, handles and wing turn catches used in telecom, medical, military and agricultural applications.

At the time of the purchase, Nielsen Hardware was a small subsidiary of the Actuant Corporation. Ranganathan was Nielsen’s general manager and business leader and felt that he could spin off and run the company on his own: “I wanted to do something different and I always wanted to be an entrepreneur.” 

With decades of management experience and a master’s in mechanical engineering, he just knew that he could succeed as the owner of Nielsen Hardware. Ranganathan convinced Actuant of the merits of the spinoff and that he was the right buyer for the company. Once he had sold the idea of divesting Nielsen, the... Read More

Jesse Daino (left) and Adam Williams, co-owners of Recess Coffee

Little did Jesse Daino and Adam Williams know when they became friends in middle school, they would wind up owning a business together.  But that’s exactly what happened.

 Growing up the two shared a common interest in music. Daino was two years older, and after graduation played on tour throughout the United States. Williams graduated and continued to perform locally, while rising through the ranks of the Syracuse Real Food Co-op in the Westcott neighborhood of Syracuse, NY.  When Williams learned his favorite coffee shop was ready to close, he half-jokingly offered to buy the business to keep it open.

The original owner took 22-year-old Williams at his word and the $10,000 sale of Recess Coffee went through in November 2007. Williams’s recounts: “Jesse was staying at my apartment in between tours, so I asked him to own it with me.  In the beginning, we looked at it as a hobby business that we could own while doing other things.”

Their friends and Westcott... Read More

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

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