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Success Stories

Shawn Woldt (right) and Jim Mickowski, Thunderbird Engineering


What could be better than the Small Business Development Center helping us out? That was what Shawn Woldt, co-founder and principal of Thunderbird Engineering, thought when he and his business partner, Jim Mickowski, needed immediate help in starting their consulting firm in 2013.

Woldt was born in Eau Claire, Wis., and grew up in Oshkosh. As a boy, his grandmother called him Mr. Professor because he was constantly tinkering and fixing things. He was the only one in the household who could figure outhow to change the clocks for daylight savings time, and he even once built a fan out of a small motor from Radio Shack, a 9-volt battery and a Lego piece. Woldt also began working at a young age, with jobs including mowing lawns and shoveling driveways for neighbors.

“I’ve always been fascinated with how electrical and mechanical things operated,” Woldt said. “But I’ve also been an entrepreneur since an early age.” Woldt attended the Wisconsin School of... Read More

Spa Massage on the Go staff Showcase Services at an Event

Jessica Dragan, a Wisconsin native, joined the U.S. Army as a logistics and transportation specialist and spent four years traveling the globe with tours in South Korea, Texas, and Kuwait during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She knew when she left the service that she would take a different path. She spent two years in Los Angeles studying as many styles of massage as she could learn. She gained experience working at one of the Los Angeles area’s most respected spas, Burke Williams.

In 2009, she felt a pull back to Wisconsin and family, and returned to the Milwaukee area. She started her business, Spa Massage on the Go, working with people in their homes. Unlike many massage therapists, she felt more comfortable working with clients in their own environments rather than in a salon or other setting. Soon she began hiring other massage therapists on contract when she needed extra help. Within a year, Spa Massage on the Go needed more help on a regular basis. She expanded her... Read More

Freshour Precision Welding's Saw Area Before and After Renovation

After years of working for others and having a hobby race car and welding shop on the side, Willie Freshour realized that he wasn’t getting paid enough as a welder or making the most of his high energy and many skills. When Willie’s foreman at his last job suggested he quit and start his own business, he took the leap. Freshour Precision Welding and Fabrication opened in 2011 in New London, Wisconsin.

Willie used his hobby shop as the base for the business and, thanks to his excellent reputation, he started with a handful of his shop customers. One of his first jobs was making high-end precision bicycle parts. He also traveled to do welding at his clients’ homes and other companies. Within a few years, Freshour had grown sufficiently for him to find a dedicated facility, all with no external financing. He and his fiancee bought a farmette with a 45-year-old machine shed and began to renovate it, updating the roof and installing doors, electric, insulation, heat, indoor/... Read More

Crystal Finishing Systems Mosinee Facility purchased with 504  loan

Mark Matthiae, founder and CEO of Crystal Finishing Systems, is a serial entrepreneur.  After founding and growing several auto and body shop businesses in the 1970s and 1980s, he and his wife Laurie started Crystal Finishing Systems as a part-time enterprise in 1993 with a staff of three and one client.  The business grew quickly.  By 1996, they had established a headquarters in Schofield and had 22 employees involved in production of coatings for metal and plastic products, and by 1999 they were operating 3 shifts around the clock with about 85 employees.

Matthiae has used SBA’s 504 financing several times, diversifying operations, growing facilities and increasing employment.   The funding has enabled Crystal Finishing Systems to leverage its development from a paint job shop to a full-service manufacturing, warehousing, and delivery firm with seven divisions:  aluminum extrusion and fabrication, high performance coatings, powder coating, plastics coating, E-coating, and... Read More