Success Stories

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

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

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