SBA Emerging Leaders Program Helps Third-Generation Manufacturer Expand

Situation: Jaime Sweet grew up next door to her family’s small machine shop in Oneida, NY. Her grandparents Robert and Adeline Sweet began the company in 1973, and her father Robert Sweet Jr. worked as an apprentice, machinist, and director of operations  before taking the reins in upon their retirement. Robert Sweet Jr. developed the company into a large CNC manufacturer. Jaime worked in many different roles at the family business while in high school and college, although she started out her career as a Family Nurse Practitioner. Jaime returned to Harman Enterprises, Inc. to lead the company after her father’s unexpected passing in 2014.

“You always think you appreciate the responsibility. But you never really understand what it means until you are in that position,” explains Jaime Sweet, Hartman Enterprises president and CEO. “One of the first things I did was to recognize that I needed some guidance. I contacted the Mohawk Valley Small Business Development Center, and they helped me navigate and obtain HUBZone and NYS WBE that could give us an advantage with our customers. Additionally, we worked with Advanced Institute of Manufacturing , Work Force Development and National Grid to get our AS 9100 aerospace certification.”

As Jaime settled into her new role, she determined that the company was facing the external challenge of industry changes and internal limitations of capacity due to their 25,000 square-foot building. Jaime needed to grow the company and considered adding space onto the existing property, moving the business to a larger location, or acquiring a second manufacturing business in a different location.

Solution: Jaime connected with the right resource at the right time with the SBA’s Emerging Leaders program in Syracuse, NY in 2017. The seven-month intensive class introduced Jaime to a network of peer entrepreneurs and experienced instructor John Liddy. Working on her growth action plan in the class helped Jaime develop a strategic growth mindset, determine the best option for expansion was to acquire another company, and gave her the confidence to make the purchase.

Outcome: After Jaime’s experience in Emerging Leaders, Hartman Enterprises has expanded their production capacity, acquired a second manufacturing company in Massachusetts, and invested in new equipment and staff. With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act change to equipment expensing, Hartman Enterprises purchased two CNC machining centers instead of only one. Hartman invested over $1 million dollars in the machines to replace aging equipment that had grown expensive to repair. Hartman used a grant from the Advanced Institute of Manufacturing (AIM) in Utica for a Workforce Development Board program to train their newest entry-level employees on blueprint reading and machine operation to develop their next generation of skilled labor. As a result of Hartman’s strategic expansion over the past two years, the third-generation family-owned manufacturer has increased staff, grown revenues by 30 percent, and added the medical, aerospace and  defense industries to their customer base.

Company Name: 
Hartman Enterprises, Inc.
Location: 
Oneida, NY