Success Stories

Christopher Sanford opened PuroClean Disaster Restoration Services in 2007, PuroClean specializes in helping residential and commercial clients recover from damage caused by fire, smoke, water, sewage, mold, and other contaminants. Sanford is a veteran of the United States Navy, where he served on active duty for over seven years as a Surface Warfare Officer and continues to serve in the Navy Reserve.

Since its beginning in 2007, PuroClean has gone through four large-scale
expansions to accommodate growth. Initially, Chris ran PuroClean out of his father’s garage before quickly moving to a 1,200 square foot warehouse. By 2013, Sanford moved the company into a 3,600 square foot shop. It became apparent that this still wasn’t enough space, and he soon acquired an additional 1,200 square feet adjacent to his existing unit. After completing the inaugural class of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses in Rhode Island, Sanford gained the confidence to make his biggest move... Read More

In 2007, Susan Pascale-Frechette founded Pods Swimming School. What began as a nomadic swim school has now grown to an 11,900 square foot aquatics center housing two pools, a six-lane lap pool, and a 20 by 40-foot teaching pool. Since founding Pods, Susan has found success while displaying ingenuity and demonstrating potential for future growth.

Although founded in 2007, Susan’s journey towards building Pods began at the age of sixteen. “I would never have envisioned that my first job working at the Budlong pool in Cranston, Rhode Island would have blossomed into building a swim school,” said Susan. “The drive to build the Pods Swimming Aquatics Center was my desire to create a stable environment and a home for the families enrolled in Pods. My vision was to offer a complete program under one roof,” she added.  

In 2007, Pods was the first school in Rhode Island to become a member of the United States Swim School Association (USSSA). Professional development and... Read More

Justin Oakley and Michael Vieira, owners of Oakley Home Access (OHA), opened their home modification business in 2016 with a simple idea – allow others the respect of aging in place. Oakley Home Access, located in Narragansett, specializes in installing equipment and customizing homes to help in fall prevention and accessibility.

“At the most basic level, we started Oakley Home Access to help people. Maximizing mobility and safety at home throughminimally invasive products and functional construction is who we are at our core. We strive to ensure that our clients can age in place while focusing on fall prevention and increased accessibility,” said Co-Owner, Justin Oakley.

OHA’s process begins with a free home safety assessment where Justin and Michael collaborate with the client before making individualized recommendations. “I, as an occupational therapist am the master of the human body and how it interacts with its environment,” said Oakley. “Michael as a... Read More

Kelly Mendell is the president and majority owner of MIKEL, a woman-owned, leading undersea warfare technology company in Middletown. In 1999, Kelly’s father, Brian Guimond, started MIKEL, in 2002 Kelly joined him and by 2008 was the company’s President.

Kelly’s journey began at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she majored in engineering and began interning in a machine shop gaining hands-on experience in manufacturing, planning, materials, and quality control. Kelly graduated from UMASS with her BS in Industrial Engineering and from Babson College with an MBA and would go to work for companies including Polaroid, Gillette, and Raytheon working as both an industrial engineer and manufacturing manager.

In 2002, after the birth of her daughter Laura, Kelly joined MIKEL as the Managing Director. Kelly was responsible for managing all aspects of the business including billing, payroll, contracts, accounting, benefits, financial tracking, sales, and... Read More