Success Stories

Picture Of: Karen Myers Braun, Branch Center Manager – WesBanco; Robert L. Greer, Bridgeport Mayor; Milda Oliverio, Owner: Karen Friel, SBA District Director; Luann Bush, Vice President – WesBanco

Milda Oliverio has spent the past 39 years brightening the days of Bridgeport residents with her lovely flower arrangements. Oliverio’s Florist received their first SBA guaranteed loan through Bridgeport Bank over 35 years ago, which they used to purchase the infamous pink building where they are currently housed. A year later they received another SBA guaranteed loan through WesBanco, which had taken over Bridgeport Bank, to put an addition on the top of that building.

Since then Oliverio’s has thrived while providing beautiful bouquets to the community. During a “Be Sweet on Small Business” tour SBA’s West Virginia District Director, Karen Friel received the opportunity to hear how the loan made over three decades ago changed the community and life of Oliverio.

“It’s amazing to see the progression of what a lender taking a chance on a small business and a SBA loan-guarantee can do for a community,” states Friel. “Milda had a dream to own a flower shop in Bridgeport... Read More

SBA District Director, Karen Friel; Gurkees Owner, Ray Sickles; SBDC Coach, Sharon Stratton

You get a pair of sandals, you get a pair of sandals, and you get a pair of sandals! The U.S. Small Business Administration’s client Gurkees Sandals was featured in the July edition of O, The Oprah Magazine’s favorite things.

Gurkees Sandals, established in 1984, are known for their rope shoes that customers say are both comfortable and fashionable.  Ray Sickles, the product’s largest distributor, purchased the business in 2009.

To get started, Sickles turned to the SBA and secured a line of credit under the Recovery Act Loan Program to purchase the supplies he needed to take on his own business.

Sickles came across a few challenges in obtaining the rope needed to manufacture the sandals. After attending a financing workshop held by Sharon Stratton, a business coach for West Virginia’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a SBA resource partner, Sickles realized the answer to his problem was to manufacture his own.  Stratton connected Sickles with Tim... Read More

Judy McCauley, DD; Raja Sundaram, Owner; Tim James, Microlender

SBA Microloan Program Helps Successful Business Get Started

Chaang Thai Restaurant, North Central West Virginia’s only Thai restaurant, soon celebrates their third anniversary. Chaang   

Thai has seen great success in Morgantown and is open to further expansion in the future.

Raja Sundaram, originally from India, was an IT specialist working on a government contract in
Washington, D.C. when his wife, Pookie suggested they open a Thai restaurant. Raja dismissed the idea for six months but eventually got on board with his wife’s idea. After two years of extensive research, Raja and Pookie opened Chaang Thai in Morgantown, WV.

How did they do it?

Raja knew he wanted to open the restaurant in a college town that had 20,000+ students, a busy downtown, a stable economy, and he wanted to be the first Thai Restaurant in the community. All of these factors led him to WVU, High Street, in Morgantown, West Virginia. What kept him here were the great... Read More

Inside Image of Garcia's Latin Market

Garcia’s Latin Market (GLM), Morgantown’s only Latin Market, is “Sharing Culture” with WVU students and Morgantown residents. GLM has market shelves stuffed with unique and hard to find ingredients and specialty items like premium tortilla chips and fresh corn and flour tortillas, and more recently has been making authentic daily specials, announced through their Facebook page.

Ralph Garcia, one-third of GLM’s ownership team and West Virginia native, found entrepreneurship later in life. He started
his career in Texas as a teacher and coach. West Virginia brought him home when his mother fell ill and he landed a vice principal position in the Albert Gallatin School District. The other two-thirds of the ownership team, his wife Amy and daughter Jennifer, presented Ralph with an idea that would drastically change his career.

The Garcia family regularly hosted WVU international students and saw them struggle to find products from their country. This led them to the... Read More