Success Stories

PITTSBURGH – Mechanical engineer Matt Verlinich experimented with more than 100 ideas until his business venture became crystal clear -- ice cubes. Verlinich didn’t just push a button or add water to a tray; he began creating a three-piece system making artistic, clear ice cubes ideal for the hospitality and home-entertainment industry.

 “I’ve always been fascinated with ice,” explained Verlinich. “Vacationing at Lake Chautauqua in New York, I watched ice being cut out of the lake. It was carved, just like it was before mechanical refrigeration.”

His artistic experience limited only to carving an icicle, Verlinich turned his passion to cubes after watching an ad on television. “I became obsessed with making crystal-clear cubes,” he added. “It was one of my ideas that I believed had commercial potential because there were no available products… Individuals had to by a block of ice and carve it into shapes.”

Today’s product, dubbed Clear Ice Rocks, is a sleek,... Read More

Musician Strums to the Beat as Web Designer

Bryan Brown is SBA Western PA Young Entrepreneur of the Year

PITTSBURGH – A rap session with the University of Pittsburgh Small Business Development Center [SBDC] spun musician and student finance major Bryan Brown from business banker to small business owner.

The then-senior interned for the center assisting entrepreneurs with strategic plans. “Working there was very proactive, hands-on and completely different from what I was learning in classes,” Brown explained. After graduating, Brown employed those same tactics growing his web design business, Responsival, LLC., from a one-man band into a 12-member group in just three years.

His business savvy earned Brown accolades as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Western PA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Brown will receive his award at the University of Pittsburgh’s SBDC C3 (Creating Opportunities, Connecting Resources and Contracting Diversity) event,... Read More

PITTSBURGH – Navy veteran and nuclear engineer Bill Campbell’s one-man engineering crew sailed into entrepreneurship 13 years ago in the basement of his house. Once serving as receptionist, salesman and president, Campbell recently travelled to Washington, D.C to compete for the Small Business Person of the Year award during the 55th annual celebration of U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Small Business Week, April 29-May 5.

Campbell began his quest at the local level, when he was chosen as the Pittsburgh District Office Small Business Person of the Year. The nomination package, compiled by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, then was forwarded to the regional SBA office in Philadelphia to compete with the Eastern Pennsylvania winner to represent the state.

“It’s a great honor,” Campbell said. “I feel very fortunate and respectful to receive such a significant award.”

Today, Campbell, president of WTS, a water treatment and facilities... Read More

ribbon-cutting ceremony

CLAYSVILLE, PA – For four years, baker Lori Polan created homemade, delectable desserts at Claysville’s Main Street Café. When the 56-year-old kneaded some dough to purchase the eatery, she turned to the Washington County Council on Economic Development (WCCED) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Within two months, Polan promoted herself from baker to owner. Her recipe for success: meals made from scratch, a business plan and an SBA microloan. Microloans are an SBA program providing very small loans, up to $50,000, through nonprofit intermediaries to business owners. Last year in Pittsburgh, approximately 41 entrepreneurs received more than $1.34 million in microloans for working capital or any business-related expense.

“This program is enabling Lori to live the American dream of small business ownership sharing her family’s favorite dishes and pies with patrons from the tri-state area,” said SBA Pittsburgh District Director Dr. Kelly Hunt. “The nice... Read More