Success Stories

The American Dream of Owning Your Own Business

Going from a structural engineer to owning multiple event centers, was not in the plans for Raj Shafaii, but no one can predict the future.  Raj was born in Iran and after graduating from high school, his father thought it best for him, to continue his education in the United States.  At barely 18 years of age and with little English speaking ability, Raj left Iran headed for the US in 1975.

After graduating from the University of Texas-Austin, with a degree in structural engineering and marring his wife Norma, Raj began working for an engineering firm.  He only worked for the firm, for three years, before finding himself unemployed, due to the countries oil and gas recession.  In a need to provide for his family, he began to sell Chinese handmade tablecloths that his uncle would send from Dubai.  When the demand, for the tablecloths died, Raj and Norma, were again looking for ways to feed the family.  With an empty building (used to store the tablecloths) people began to... Read More

Veteran-owned Business Continues to Grow with Help from SBDC

Troop Industrial is a veteran-owned company started in 2005 by Brian Swindel.  The company started as a home-based business and has grown into a thriving supplier of bolts, gaskets, fasteners and fittings.  Throughout the years, the SBDC continued to help Brian grow and expand his business. 

Troop Industrial is HUB certified and is a highly respected source of gaskets, industrial fasteners and fittings covering the heart of the industrial Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast.  They also offer on-site supply through 40ft containers or large semi-trailers.   They deliver and ship all over the United States and abroad.  Some of their projects include a LNG project in Southeast Texas, Kearl Oil Sands in Canada, Refinery Expansion in Columbia, and various industrial projects all over the industrial gulf coast. 

Troop Industrial has grown from one employee to 20 employees.  As a Marine, Brian is dedicated to supporting and hiring veterans.  Currently, 35% of his workforce is... Read More

Associated Lumber Enterprises

Associated Lumber Enterprises is a lumber company that not only offers recycled lumber products but its history originated from a recycled building.  A former 1900s cotton gin was transformed into a lumber mill in 1989.  Today, it is a woman-owned niche provider of lumber products and services. 

Linda Flory purchased the business in 2011 and is building on the history of the 20+ years of lumbering in Kendleton, Texas, a rural community of 500 people. ALE is conveniently located on Hwy 59, the future I-69 NAFTA corridor.

Linda comes from a legacy of Louisiana lumbermen dating back two generations.  As a young girl, she worked at her father’s mill in Louisiana and recalls when her grandfather moved logs down the river in her hometown of Westlake, Louisiana.  Little did she know that after a career in data base management, she would return to her roots.  Linda came across the lumber company while cataloguing businesses in Kendleton with her husband Mike Flory, who is the... Read More

Jim Dokuyucu and Deanna Teel are the owners of the Turquoise Grill & Bar restaurants.  The Turquoise Grill offers a wide variety of healthy, Mediterranean and Turkish-inspired dishes.  They have two locations and both were financed with SBA loans.

The first Turquoise Grill, opened in 2003 on trendy Kirby St. in Houston, grew very popular and received rave reviews.  It was rated as one of the top 100 restaurants in Houston and best Mediterranean restaurant for several years in a row.  The opening of their second restaurant in Sugar Land’s prime location of Town Square was much anticipated by local residents.  Jim and Deanna are residents of Sugar Land since 1994, so when they were approached about opening a second location there, they were excited about the idea of bringing their cuisine to their home community.

Jim always wanted to start his own business and when he was pink slipped from corporate America, he decided it was time to fulfill his dream.  Jim came to... Read More