Success Stories

SBA Award Winner Grows Successful Mobile Storage Business From a Senior Project

Ross Black needed a business idea for his senior project in high school; so he utilized some extra space his parents had to make a mini-storage business. After finding success in it, he decided to expand by purchasing shipping containers to use as storage space. It wasn’t until a client asked if he could drop the container off at her house to put some bigger items in prior to taking it to his property that he found a potential in mobile storage. Fifteen years, two locations, and nine employees later, Ross and his father (and co-owner) Dave Black had created a successful mobile storage business headquartered in Lynden, Washington. Ross wanted to grow the business smart and knew he needed some help to make that happen.

In 2013, Ross enrolled in the SBA Emerging Leaders course, which provides free entrepreneurship education and training for executives of small, poised-for-growth... Read More


Dave Walsh came out of grad school with a desire to run his own business. Using his schooling and knowledge in the MRI technology field, he started Vista Clara. He spent time consulting and subcontracting but wanted more with his business. Walsh came up with an idea: use MRI technology to detect water in the ground to create an actual image. However, he needed funding for research and development of this idea.


Walsh turned to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. SBIR grants, which come in three stages, allow a qualifying business with a technology-based idea the means to commercially develop it. The grant is also sometimes known as “seed funding,” as awarded monies have historically provided innovators like Walsh a direct means to see their technology concepts grow into trusted industry solutions. He was also able to secure a line of credit guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, which gave them the... Read More

Shawn O’Donnell’s American Grill and Irish Pub is truly a family affair. With a strong connection to his Irish roots and an even stronger connection to his Washington-based family, Founder and Owner Shawn O’Donnell Sr. opened his first sandwich shop in Everett, Washington in 1982. It seemed a natural progression to get family involved as his business expanded into three full-service locations over the course of more than 30 years. The current-day owners of Shawn O’Donnell’s three locations now include his wife Tina O’Donnell, son Shawn O’Donnell Jr., daughter-in-law Molly O’Donnell, daughter Sophia Taylor, niece Kristen Nannery, and close family friend Chase VanCotthem.

Along the way the O’Donnell family has encountered various obstacles to survival and growth. In 2003 following a landlord dispute, they wanted to stop renting and were ready to buy. Shortly after moving and opening their new location in South Everett in 2007, the Great Recession of 2008 hit and the... Read More

Roger Newton never planned to start his own business. But after years of hands-on construction and project management experience, Newton branched out on his own and founded Newton Building and Development, LLC (NBD) in March 2002. He recognized the opportunities of doing business with the federal government but he needed a way to gain access to the network.

Having seen the benefits of the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program at a previous firm, Newton applied for and received his 8(a) certification in 2005. The combination of the certification and outstanding project reviews opened the floodgates for work opportunities with the Navy. After a successful nine-year run, Newton graduated from the SBA 8(a) program. Several years later, he was ready to take his business in a new direction, but wasn’t sure what that should be. That’s when Newton was accepted into the 2018 SBA Emerging Leaders program, a seven-month executive education program designed for small businesses... Read More