Success Stories

An employee of TRS readies a work truck for daily operations

Life in the military tends to ingrain a sense of self-discipline and often times a leadership style that is essential as an entrepreneur. In fact, nearly 2.5 million veterans in the U.S. find owning their own business to be a natural fit for them.

However, even with seven years in the U.S. Navy and a background that fit the scope of his father’s recently started business, Clay Hand admitted he had no idea what to do when it came to running a business.

Hand is now the president of TRS Mechanical, a construction and HVAC/refrigeration service company in Spanaway, Washington, which employs 25 staff. He is also a recent graduate of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Emerging Leaders program. “The biggest obstacle at times was myself; I needed the opportunity to learn,” Hand said. “I knew how to do the things that I had been doing, but I didn’t know the things that I needed to be doing. Emerging Leaders helped me understand what those things were.”

The... Read More

Portrait of Jessica McMurdie

For some small business owners, the best part of owning a business is also the hardest: being at the top but having no one to go to when you don’t know what to do next.

However, for the past 11 years, Jessica McMurdie, owner of Stepping Stones Therapy Network in Bellevue, Washington, has always had someone to confide in and seek business counseling from: her SCORE mentor.

SCORE is a nonprofit association and resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) dedicated to educating entrepreneurs through free business counseling and workshops. Stepping Stones Therapy Network provides pediatric occupational therapy (OT) and speech therapy, helping children to achieve their developmental milestones and reach their fullest potential.

McMurdie started her business in 2006 out of the trunk of her car as a mobile occupational therapist. She quickly became overwhelmed with the inefficiency of driving more than 100 miles a day and set up shop in Renton a... Read More

Earl Overstreet, Founder of GMI

From Printer Parts to the Cloud:
8(a) Contracting Helps Business Evolve, Thrive

Earl Overstreet, General Microsystems Inc (GMI)

Today most of us carry a high capacity digital storage device in our pocket or purse every day.  The device, a smartphone, can store over eleven gigabytes of our favorite photos, music, and other digital content.

Thirty years ago, that kind of storage capacity was rare and extremely expensive.

Earl Overstreet, owner of General Microsystems Inc. (GMI), describes how the need for high capacity digital storage created an opportunity for his firm.  “The University of Washington Applied Physics lab bought a computer system to take to the Arctic for some oceanographic experiments.  The project hit a snag when they realized they would be collecting eleven gigabytes of data.  No storage device existed in 1984 that met their requirements.  They turned to GMI, a business that had only been around for about a... Read More

Two Grannies in a Garage

Beverly Vines-Haines and Charlotte Clary started numerous businesses prior to forming Ice Chips Candy.  They experienced moderate success many times but agree, “Even a blind pig eventually finds an acorn,” when discussing the phenomenal growth of their healthy candy company. 

Vines-Haines and Clary have known each other since their now grown children were in school together in 1986. The two had many joint and solo ventures before finally beginning a natural skin care products line that began taking off regionally.

“We started hearing the buzz about Xylitol (Zie-leh-tall) a natural sweetener unlike the many artificial products available today,” Clary explains. “We thought ‘oh my, we have got to make a candy out of this for the grandkids’ because it is safe for teeth, really good for their mouth issues.”

The two began experimenting with Xylitol. They bought a few existing products and didn't like the taste.  Eventually they realized they would have to do it... Read More