Success Stories

In 1996, John Wong, a Cleveland, Ohio based biologist and chemical engineer, founded TLC Products to answer the need for live, non-toxic, environmentally beneficial bacterial products for water purification.  In partnership with Richelle Bell, co-owner, the company has grown from total sales of $100,000 to 2012 sales of $860,000.  Now with ten employees, TLC sells world-wide, with the support of the SBA Export Express Program. 

From its inception until 2007, TLC Products was similar to its competitors and offered an expansive product line, using specialty products to treat specific water quality issues.  The company served garden centers, pet stores and hardware stores.  Throughout this period, TLC Products showed steady, manageable growth, while leasing a five-thousand square foot facility in Westlake, Ohio. 

However, as the economic downturn of 2008 and 2009 hit, TLC’s primary outlets were seeking to reduce inventory, carrying costs, and improve their cash flows. ... Read More

CLEVELAND, OH—A small business owner in Cleveland has used three loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to expand a successful food market business and create 31 jobs, with the expectation of creating up to 50 more when his new store opens later this year near University Circle. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and U.S. Small Business Administrator Karen Mills visited Constantino’s Market on January 27th to highlight the success of SBA loans and recent efforts to help small businesses grow.“Constantino’s Market is the classic American success story. Thanks to three loans from the Small Business Administration, Costas Mavromichalis has been able to turn his father’s convenience store business into the successful, unique grocery store itis today,” Brown said. “And in just a few months, he will open a new store in the growing University Circle neighborhood, adding as many as 50 additional jobs in the process. This is a perfect example of the federal government working... Read More

The month of March has been designated Women’s History Month in the United States, when the nation celebrates the great achievements of women leaders, educators and entrepreneurs.   The number of women-owned small businesses continues to grow, and many have done so with the assistance of the U.S. Small Business Administration.  

Entrepreneurs like Dawn Ochman, President of Dawn Incorporated of Warren, a trucking/general contracting company, are making tremendous contributions to the Ohio economy.  In 2009, Dawn’s company was certified in the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program as an economically disadvantaged women-owned small business.  The 8(a) program assists socially and economically disadvantaged businesses better compete in the American economy and access the federal procurement market. 

Thanks in part to SBA’s assistance opening up federal contracting opportunities, Dawn has seen her 20-year old company’s revenues grow by 102%.

Prior to obtaining its... Read More

Charlie Staples adds a “full cup of love in every batch” of his secret, original barbeque sauce, making it truly something special.  Charlie has owned and operated the Charlie Staples Bar-B-Q Restaurant in downtown Youngstown, Ohio since 1974.  With the help of two SBA guaranteed loans through Huntington Bank in Youngstown (formally Sky Bank) and the local Youngstown Initiative program, the business was able to first upgrade and then move across the street to a new 15,000 square foot building near Youngstown State University.

The barbeque restaurant has a New Orleans style Southern theme that features barbeque ribs, chicken, and shrimp on its menu.  25% of the restaurant customers are dine-in, with the remaining being carry-out.  The dine-in crowd is growing.  Charcoal and cherry wood are used in the grill to further provide a unique, original taste.  “My special signature barbeque sauce recipe is actually 70 years old,” stated Charlie.  “I purchased it 35 years ago, and the... Read More