Success Stories

Photo of Mia and Rob Schofield

Situation

While attending an education conference, Mia Schofield – who was a high school teacher and counselor at the time – discovered a retail store that inspired her to design her own line of handbags. Mo & Co. Bags was a natural off-shoot of her husband’s established shoe company; however, Schofield found doing what you love doesn’t always translate into business success.

Solution

Schofield applied to the SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative, a six-month “mini-MBA” executive education course for businesses poised for growth. The initiative provided her with the organizational framework, resource network and motivation required to help her build a sustainable business. While Schofield loved the creative process of making handbags, the course helped her realize she needed to make decisions from a business point of view. This included a thorough understanding of her business’ balance sheet and financial statements.

Impact

Since completing the... Read More

Photo of Brandon (son) and Steve (father) Vaughn cleaning windows

Situation

In 2011, Brandon Vaughn bought All-Clean Window Service from his father, Jim Vaughn, upon diagnosis of a serious health condition for Jim. Brandon knew he needed to grow the business so his father could retire after running the business for more than 30 years. Despite the company’s long track record, it had to act like a startup in many ways by updating the branding, offering additional services and developing new internal systems.

Solution

Brandon knew he needed help from people more experienced than him; and, who could coach him through all the transitions of growing a business. So he reached out to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon for assistance. Brandon met regularly with Mt. Hood SBDC Director Kedma Ough who was able to coach him to stay focused on the things that truly mattered and served as a sounding board for ideas that would take his business to the next level.

Impact

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Sarah Curtis-Fawley and Chris Powell

The Australian meat pie is one of the most iconic comfort foods from the land Down Under and is often described as the continent’s unofficial national dish. So when husband and wife team Sarah Curtis-Fawley and Chris Powell moved to Portland from Chris’s native Australia, Sarah began making them for him as a reminder of home. This became the inspiration for a savory journey into a new business.

“I never considered owning my own business before when we returned to my native town of Philadelphia,” said Sarah.  “In 2008, I went to the Women’s Business Development Center in Philadelphia where I saw that this could be a possibility.”

That possibility became a reality for Sarah and Chris in 2009 when they launched Pacific Pie Company and began selling their pies at local farmer’s markets in Portland.  From these humble beginnings, Pacific Pie Company opened a small café in southeast Portland in 2010 where the word quickly spread about their delicious handmade pies.

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David Adelsheim, Owner of Adelsheim Vineyards

Adelsheim Vineyard: from Oregon farms to Asian tables

One beautiful June day in 1971, David and Ginny Adelsheim stood atop Oregon's Willamette Valley and looked out over the vast patchwork of green trees and tall grass. The Adelsheims dreamed of planting a vineyard and making high quality wine; so they gathered together enough to purchase 19 acres of the rolling Oregon countryside.

Nearly 50 years and more than 200 acres later, the couple’s modest dream and small vineyard have both grown tremendously. According to Adelsheim’s winemaker, “by staying true to our place and honoring the natural characteristics of our land, we’ve helped change the world’s view about world-class wines in the [Oregon] Willamette Valley.”

And the world has taken notice. Demand for their Oregon Pinot Noir began to increase steadily over recent years. Catherine Douglas, Adelsheim’s Manager of Export Sales, has witnessed this growth firsthand. According to Douglas, Adelsheim decided to... Read More

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