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Success Stories

SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative Helps a Small Business Grow

For many years, Craig Marshall had a career in logistics, and managed over-the-road freight.  The work was highly stressful and required a commitment of 364 days a year and a commute of 62 miles a day.  Now, however, Mr. Marshall has made the switch to small business ownership, and works alongside massage therapist and instructor Gina DeAngelo, his wife, as he serves as CFO of Massage Café in Canfield Township, Ohio and in Youngstown, Ohio.  Massage Café provides its customers relief from pain as well as relaxation.  It offers a wide variety of body work modalities, prices are affordable, and Massage Café even will come to the workplace.

Ms. DeAngelo has more than 15 years of experience in private practice.  She also graduated with a degree in allied health professions from Ohio State University, and has extensive experience as a public speaker and teacher of message therapy.  Mr. Marshall’s career experience and his degree in finance and marketing also make him well-... Read More

A Gourmet Donut Shop Rises to the Top, In Partnership with SBA Resource Partner SCORE

With flavors like Milky Way, Sea Salt Caramel and Maple Bacon, it is no wonder that Peace, Love and Little Donuts (PLLD) of Canal Fulton, Ohio, has been packing in customers since its opening two years ago.  “We make our donuts all in front of our customers, and people come in already in a good mood.  It’s a fun position to be in!” said Franny Buell, co-owner with husband DJ Buell.  Profitable from the start, PLLD of Canal Fulton has also received critical raves.

The Buell’s success can be traced in part to their founding of the company on a solid business plan –DJ’s background in corporate management and Franny’s small business background ensured that took place.  Still, early on they knew they could still use guidance as they developed their business.  But where could they go to find assistance, and whom could they trust?  Luckily, good fortune intervened.  DJ happened to go sailing with an individual who was a member of SCORE, a resource partner organization of the SBA... Read More

MAK Associates Owner and President, Jason Bruder (left) works with one of his installers.

Jason Bruder had for many years been a highly successful sales representative in the lighting systems and window-covering industries.  But by asking one question, Mr. Bruder found himself at a turning point in his life – he had the chance to become a small business owner. During an appointment in 2013 with two owners of a respected company in the business, he casually asked, “So when are you guys going to retire?”  When he received the reply, “Sooner than you think,” Mr. Bruder saw his opportunity.  In short order he began to research, trying as fast as he could to learn everything about small business ownership.  But exactly where to start and how to acquire the company?  Ultimately, with the assistance of a Small Business Development Center and an SBA 7(a) loan through Huntington Bank, his concerns were addressed and his vision is now a reality.


The company Mr. Bruder wanted to purchase, MAK Associates of Ohio, Inc., sold and installed manual and motorized roller... Read More

Eye Candy Optical, LLC owners Steve Nelson (left) and Anton Syzdykov (right)

It all started with a conversation over dinner between two friends, Anton Syzdykov and Steve Nelson.  Their exchange centered around how difficult it was for them to find high-end eyewear on the west side of Cleveland, Ohio.  And as executives in international business, they could easily see an opportunity existed to fill this need for other discerning consumers in the area.  With careful planning over time and with the help of the SBA, the two men expanded that idea into a reality, and in late 2013 Eye Candy Optical, LLC., an extraordinary optical boutique, was born.

Eye Candy Optical caters to a demanding, stylish clientele that is willing to pay for the finest in eyewear.  The boutique’s inventory is akin in value and beauty to fine jewelry, and Mr. Syzdykov and Mr. Nelson have traveled the world to find the best in optical designs.  In addition, the company prides itself on first-class – yet approachable – service.  Eye Candy’s opticians, who are rigorously trained well... Read More