Success Stories

After spending 15 years as an accountant and later a financial consultant, Jamie Dickenson awoke one morning divinely inspired. “Your kids and money are your most precious assets,” she observes. “How can you spend more time planning your vacation than your kids’ future? Determining what college to attend is one of the biggest decisions in life.” In that moment, her business was born.

Now known as The Collegiate Advisor of West Virginia, Dickenson turns high school seniors into college freshmen. With hundreds of students placed in colleges throughout the country, Dickenson is in high demand as a motivational speaker and is the only full member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association from West Virginia.

In her spare time she works with the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office, teaches cardio kickboxing and volunteers for several community organizations.

In the early days, however, Dickenson struggled to make ends meet. After attending... Read More

Larry and Margaret Brown, owners of Weston Transfer Inc. and Jack’s Septic Inc. located in Weston, West Virginia, have been in business since 1979. Margaret is president of Jack’s Septic Inc. and Larry is the president of Weston Transfer Inc.

The couple doesn’t sit around waiting for things happen. They are movers and shakers getting the job done through running their own businesses, joining local business organizations, and encouraging others to get involved in community activities.

Both companies are centered on waste disposal. Weston Transfer is a garbage collection service and Jack’s Septic is a waste management company providing portable toilets and solid waste disposal.

Margaret said, “Our businesses are just like a baby. There are a lot of sleepless nights worrying about the equipment failures, portable potties freezing up, or a wind storm turning over a customer’s portable toilet. It’s a lot of hard work but you do what you have to do even... Read More

Jeff Smoot, owner of Sahara Dry Basement, LLC, located in Martinsburg, West Virginia, is smiling as he watches his latest television commercial. In the ad, he’s sitting on the couch in the den with his wife, Stephanie. The couple is reading the paper when three of their children jubilantly rush by, wearing swimsuits, snorkels, face masks and fins. Stephanie looks up from the paper and remarks matter of factly, “honey, the basement is leaking again.” The ad, written by Jeff, then unveils the many virtues of the company’s unique basement water proofing system and ends with one of the children rapturously observing, “thanks to Sahara Dry Basement, we can save enough money to buy a real pool!”

That clever commercial vividly underscores Jeff’s basic business philosophy which is “market, market, market.” He estimates that 80% of the money he spends is on advertising. He is a self described “bulldog” on “branding.”

“Every place I went, I handed out business cards,”... Read More

Jean Hawks has had to overcome a lot of challenges throughout her business career, but it hasn’t affected the outlook she has on life. Hawks, Chief Executive Officer and Director of the Fort Hill Child Development Center in Charleston, WV, is never without a smile or a positive word.

Her daughter, Jamie Gaeger, who recently began working as the co-director and accreditation administrator, best describes Hawks as someone who has been “given the gift of patience, understanding, perseverance and forgiveness which she shares with every person she has touched.”

Hawks has always dreamed of helping her community in every way she could. That dream turned out to be the opening of a daycare and child development center. Hawks has two attributes that are essential elements of being a successful childcare giver. The gifts of being able to love and teach and managing the many challenges pursuing that dream presented.

“I was a single parent with three children,... Read More