Success Stories

Situation: Barbara Smith, owner of Cincinnati-based steel fabrication and erection company, Journey Steel, has never been afraid to make her own path to success. With more than 29 years of experience in the construction industry, working with Fortune 500 companies and preparing multi-million dollar budgets, Smith saw an opportunity to stand out as a small business owner.

"There are not a lot of black women in construction," Smith said. "I've always had a drive to succeed and, by becoming a small business owner, I saw my chance to create a niche business and stand out against my competitors."

Smith partnered with Tom Garten, who also had a strong background in construction and project management, to launch Journey Steel in 2009.

Solution: Smith has used SBA resources every step of the way in her business growth. To help prepare for government contracting, she tapped an SBA-powered Procurement Technical Assistance Center and Journey Steel became certified as... Read More


Robert Luft has always had a drive to forge his own path to success. After serving in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer for more than 16 years, he decided to pursue entrepreneurship. Equipped with valuable skills and experience from his years in the military, he identified an opportunity in IT installation and formed Cincinnati-based small business SureFire Innovations in January 2016.

The business began to expand rapidly, taking on projects at the state, federal and commercial level. Met with a growing customer demand, Robert began researching ways to scale his business effectively.

SBA Resources

With the help of an SBA-backed loan, Robert was able to stabilize his business and focus on expansion.

“Before I was able to access the capital that I needed to grow through SBA, I was bootstrapping my business,” he said. “Even during that time, I focused on my personal credit because I knew by demonstrating personal creditworthiness, I would... Read More


Maritza Garcia started an in-home daycare center in 2000. Though she initially started the business to help her extended family, she soon recognized a growing need for childcare in Cincinnati’s Hispanic community and expanded the daycare.


As word spread about the quality of Maritza’s business and flexible schedule, the daycare outgrew her home.

SBA Resources

In 2013, Maritza met with Karla Boldery, who then worked at the Ohio Small Business Development Center at Greater Cincinnati Urban League as a business counselor. Karla worked with Maritza to create a business plan and mentioned SBA funding as a potential way for Maritza to expand her business.


Maritza was able to obtain an SBA Express loan in 2013, which allowed her to obtain a building for her new daycare.


Though she believes that entrepreneurship is extremely rewarding, Maritza acknowledges the difficulties in running the business, particularly when she does not speak English... Read More


Joe and Sallie Wegman started the Wegman Company in 1967 as an interior remodeling company. More than 50 years later, their four children have transformed the business into a large scale modular furniture installation company.


Though President Scott Wegman and Vice President Melissa Wegman have focused on modernizing the business, they continue to incorporate values passed down from their parents, including community involvement and commitment to the success of the business’s employees.   


“Our dad always involved us in the business, even when we were young,” Melissa said. “There’s definitely a sense of pride in what my dad has created and given to us to build on.”

SBA Resources:

When Joe and Sallie Wegman started the company in 1967, they took advantage of SCORE counselors to help them set up the structure of the business. They also took out an SBA-guaranteed loan in order to purchase their first warehouse.


In 2014, the second... Read More