Success Stories

SBDC Procurement Assistance Center Helps Sturges Manufacturing, Inc.

Founded by Henry Sturges, Sturges Manufacturing, Inc. began producing suspenders in Utica, NY in 1909. Today, Sturges is an ISO-9001 certified manufacturer of custom-designed engineered straps and webbing for the safety, firefighting, military and mountain climbing industries. Sturges is renowned for its outstanding performance in quality, value and customer service, and recognition from customers across the world is evident from the foyer full of awards and plaques.

Leading the company into the 21st century is President Rick Griffith. Over 38 years ago, Rick joined Sturges and in 2000, he transitioned from one of the owners to the majority owner. Within a year, Rick’s son Tyler came on board for new market development. The father and son leadership team has been good for both the family and the business.

“I think working with my son is the greatest thing going,” said Rick Griffith.  “He has come in here and taken a whole different look at things with a completely... Read More

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

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