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Philadelphia District Office Success Stories

Philadelphia District Office Success Stories

Founded in 1963 by Greek immigrant Stylianos Apostolopoulos, the Lancaster Trophy House is a second generation family-owned company and a woman-owned business in downtown Lancaster providing a full service line of quality engraving services for awards, medals, plaques, signage, trophies and trays.

Deborah Apostolopoulos began working at the Lancaster Trophy House in 1982 where she met and later married her husband Michael, the original owner’s son.  Deborah is now full owner of the business where she runs the daily activities with her husband and their son.

In 2011, the business continued to expand and add new services for its growing customer base. Apostolopoulos saw she needed to move to a larger location, so she reached out to Small Business Administration lender, Community First Fund for a loan and met with the Director of Business Lending Daniel Beck. Through one-on-one business consulting with Dan, she got her business loan ready.

Working with Community First Fund and EDC Finance Corporation, a Lancaster-based Certified Development Company (CDC) recently recognized as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2014 leading 504 lender in eastern Pennsylvania, Apostolopoulos was approved for an SBA 504 loan.

With the loan, Lancaster Trophy House was able to purchase a building in downtown Lancaster as well as acquire new equipment. The larger space and equipment allowed the business to expand their product line to include printing customized images on novelty items such as coffee mugs, t-shirts, uniforms, etc.

Apostolopoulos committed to staying in the City of Lancaster, despite the higher cost of real estate, because she is invested in the community that has allowed her business to reach the success it currently enjoys.

“This is a ‘textbook perfect’ example that shows just how effective and powerful a full range of SBA’s economic development partners can be. These great organizations – Community First Fund and its Women’s Business Center working together with EDC Finance Corporation – formed a powerful team to guide Deborah to the right resources for her small business,” said Tony Leta, SBA’s Eastern Pennsylvania Director. “Working together, with a collaborative approach, they really are able to help small businesses take advantage of the many different resources available to help small businesses succeed.”

Community First Fund and the Lancaster Trophy House have continued their close working relationship.  Community First Fund’s Women’s Business Center still provides business counselling and support as the Trophy House thrives and remains an important fixture in downtown Lancaster.

“Deb and Mike will do whatever it takes to get the job done. There are many times that they work past midnight putting in 16-hour days to process orders. Their market niche is based on custom service and quick turnaround. They will take on any order no matter how small, large, or fast the order is needed. They pride themselves on their service,” Beck said.

Deborah says that the Lancaster Trophy House has a simple philosophy: “If someone wants something done, we find a way no matter what the job is. This way of business has served us well.” According to her, “A large majority of family businesses die in the third generation. We are going to be the minority who make it.”

SBA directs a national entrepreneurial network that provides access to capital, mentoring, training, resources and business assistance to more than 1.2 million entrepreneurs and small businesses across the country each year.

The Women’s Business Center at Community First Fund serves 13 counties in central and eastern Pennsylvania by providing training, customized business counseling, loan capital, and advocacy support to small business owners. The overall vision of the organization is to create vibrant and diverse communities where individuals prosper and are free from poverty and discrimination.

EDC Finance Corporation is a private, non-profit organization founded by the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County (EDC) in 1986 to provide Lancaster County businesses access to state and local economic development incentive financing programs.

CDC’s are nonprofit corporations, certified and regulated by the SBA, that work with participating lenders to provide financing to small businesses. EDC Finance Corporation received the CDC designation from the SBA to administer the 504 program throughout the entire state of Pennsylvania in April 2008, and has since gone on to expand delivery of SBA 504 loans from Lancaster county to include its partner counties: Adams, Cumberland and York.

SBA’s 504 Loan Program is a tiered financing vehicle that provides long-term, fixed-rate financing for major fixed assets, such as land and buildings. 504 loans are available through CDCs, like EDC Finance Corporation, are economic development organizations that work with SBA and conventional lenders to offer loans under the 504 Program to qualified borrowers. Loans through the program can be an affordable option for borrowers because they require a relatively small borrower equity injection and generally offer favorable blended interest rates and repayment terms that are often longer than standard.

SBA-guaranteed loans are designed to help small business owners start, grow and succeed. For a complete list of participating lenders in eastern Pennsylvania, please visit www.sba.gov/pa.