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Success Stories

Seven years ago, Alice Van Allen, a seamstress in Camden, decided to start her own alterations store in Sumter, where she lived and where she already had several clients. Alice had done her small business research; now she needed to make sure her own small business would be a success.

On a day off from her job, she met with SCORE counselor Irwin Praeger, retired Chief Executive Officer for Drapery Contracting Corp. of Sumter. Irwin is one of three counselors in the Sumter branch of the Midlands SCORE chapter.

Alice and Irwin were a good match because of their shared background in textiles. Not only was Irwin able to help Alice with her business plan and with setting up her business, he was also able to help her with selecting the best machinery and tools because of his own experience with textiles. Irwin said that the Sumter Chamber of Commerce, where the Sumter SCORE branch is based, was also very helpful.

Now Alice recommends SCORE counseling to... Read More

Despite the housing market woes that hit the state last summer and have since generated daily headlines, Tony Thompson’s business Remodeling Services Unlimited, which serves primarily residential clientele, has maintained consistent sales. In fact, he anticipates that sales will pick up. That ability to roll with the punches, or the downturns, is what has made Remodeling Services a small business success story since its beginnings as a property management and maintenance firm started by Tony’s father in 1977.

Tony, who had always enjoyed carpentry and building, began working for his father after high school. After a brief stint in college, he realized that he was already making good money – more than his friends would likely make after graduation – and decided to return to his father’s business. In 1986, his father retired and he took control of the business narrowing its focus to remodeling services.

In 2004, Remodeling Services Unlimited received an SBA-... Read More

Construction is a historically male-dominated industry. Drive by a construction site and you expect to see men in hard-hats, not only out in the field, but also directing the action. That obviously doesn’t matter much to Betty Spells Price, founder and Chief Executive Officer of CARBRA Construction.

Price entered the construction industry while employed at the U.S. Postal Service, where she became Facility Activation Coordinator for the Columbia Processing & Distribution Center. She also worked with her brother’s construction company.

“I became fascinated and eager to learn as much as I could,” said Price. Price resigned from the Post Office to begin working full time in construction. In January 2004, she founded CARBRA Construction with herself as the only employee; CARBRA now has five employees.

CARBRA Construction performs both residential and commercial construction, including renovations and additions. Its clients include Richland County... Read More

As a tourist destination, Charleston is best known for its historical beauty: horse-drawn buggies on cobblestone streets, Rainbow Row and delicate-looking wrought iron lacing that’s survived earthquakes, hurricanes and the Civil War. But Shane Ziegler, founder and owner of Barrier Island EcoTours in the Isle of Palms, has built a business around a very different kind of beauty unique to the Charleston area: The untouched wild of the barrier islands scattered around the coast.

Originally from Atlanta, Shane’s love of the South Carolina Lowcountry developed early. He grew up spending his summers fishing and crabbing on the South Carolina coast before his family moved to the Isle of Palms when he was 13.

For awhile after college, Shane worked in the South Carolina state parks system, including a stint as an assistant naturalist at Hunting Island. Although he enjoyed his job, he saw no future in the parks system.

One night, Shane and two friends met on... Read More