Small Business Development Center

Small Business Development Center


Success Stories

Our Consulting Service provides the tools necessary for small business to grow. We are excited to share some of the success stories.

RUSH Boutique

Services: Purchase a Business - Marketing Assistance

RUSH Boutique

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is excited to announce that RUSH Boutique, located in downtown St. Cloud, is under new ownership. Terri Trondson has a background in education, décor, retail management and above all, a passion for the originality and value that come with resale. Terri wants to provide a guilt-free, high-end boutique atmosphere for customers that are seeking style, convenience and value in their wardrobe and décor.

SBDC Director, Barry Kirchoff along with consultants Jackie Holt and Bri Wright, had the pleasure of assisting Terri on aspects of her business purchase, marketing and social media. 

RUSH Boutique
305 West St. Germain St. St. Cloud, MN 56301
www.rush-boutique.com

Viking Adjusting Service

Services: Purchasing a Business - Rebranding

Viking Adjusting Service

For over 50 years, Viking Adjusting has built lasting relationships with clients across the state to provide fair and independent claims services. The SBDC is excited to announce that the firm is under new ownership. The SBDC had the pleasure of assisting Don with the business acquisition process.

Don Meyer and his team of experienced adjusters plan to create an updated and more efficient customer service experience in adjustment claims with a suite of new systems and technology; all while carrying on Viking's original legacy and values of integrity and trust in every service they provide.

Viking Adjusting - (320) 251-6562
www.vikingadjusting.com

Rick Brix Entertainment

Services: Start a Business

Rick Brick

The Central Region Small Business Development Center proudly celebrates another business open. Rick Brix has been playing acoustic guitar throughout Central Minnesota for over 30 years. What started out as a passion and hobby has recently presented itself as a business opportunity for Rick. This guitarist is now looking to lend his talent and entertainment for events of all kinds; weddings, parties, festivals and so-on.

The SBDC also owes him a big thanks for popping in and playing a couple tunes, earlier in February.

Visit Rick's Facebook Page for more information.

Gaslight Creative LLC

Service: Business Growth

Gaslight Creative

Gaslight Creative LLC — St. Cloud-based marketing manager Kelly Zaske and graphic designer Jodie Pundsack, co-workers and friends, left their jobs to start their own creative marketing agency. They quit on a Friday, painted their third floor walk-up and 175 square foot office over the weekend, and opened their door on Monday. That was June 1, 2009.

Fast-forward six-and-a-half years, and that company – Gaslight Creative – is well established. With ten full-time employees and more than 50 American Advertising Awards to their name, the agency now occupies a 5,400 square foot historical building in the heart of downtown St. Cloud. Gaslight has been recognized for industry achievements, community philanthropy and as a certified Women Owned Small Business.

Despite their success, Kelly and Jodie remember that launching their new business without any planning and smack dab in the middle of the Great Recession was difficult. Financing their own efforts, they began slowly, working with local clients and adding employees when possible. They performed pro bono work, became involved in the community, and grew their business organically – one project at a time.

To be successful, Kelly and Jodie knew that they needed to educate themselves on how to run their business, and the first five years was indeed that – an education. During that time, Gaslight enjoyed success but also faced many challenges. As they celebrated their 5th Anniversary, these partners were ready to take their business to the next level and began consulting with Bruce Thielman at the SBDC Central Region.

With Bruce’s encouragement, Kelly and Jodie were able to grow their business in several ways in 2015, including nearly doubling sales, leasing and renovating an additional 2,700 square feet of office space, adding four full-time positions, increasing wages and paying down debt. Plans for 2016 include adding to their portfolio of clients and world domination.

Mama Gracie's

Services: Start a Business - Marketing Assistance

Mama Gracies

Pregnancy Shop & Spa provides products and services that empower women at all stages of the birthing process. The shop is a hub for all those passionate about pregnancy to come together to support each other to improve birthing outcomes.

Featured above is Founder and President, Faith Goenner, who had made her passion a business reality with Mama Gracie's opening. Faith is also a recipient of the City of Princeton "It Starts Here" challenge award. 

Mama Gracie's Pregnancy Shop & Spa is located at:
401 1st St., Suite A, Princeton, MN 55371
www.mamagraciespregnancyshop.com/

Maple Lake Floral

Service: Purchase a Business

Maple Lake Floral

When the former owner of the Floral Shop of Maple Lake (Maple Lake, MN) was ready to retire, Brandy Sutton saw an opportunity to grab the torch. This first-time entrepreneur worked closely with Duane Northagen, SBDC consultant, along with the soon to be retired business owner to coordinate inventory and create a business plan.

At Maple Lake Floral Shop you will find magnificent floral arrangements, seasonal creations and quality customer service. The SBDC is proud to be a part of yet another successful opening!

Kudos to owner, Brandy Sutton!

Whirltronics, Inc

Service: Employee Training

Whirltronics

Whirltronics, Inc. is a full-service metal manufacturing organization specializing in the development and production of lawn mower blades and other precision machinery components. Operating out of Buffalo, Minnesota, Whirltronics serves a wide range of needs from large contracts to small-scale projects. When Junior Counselors Jaclyn Holt and Lindsey Knights were contacted in the summer of 2014 to assist Whirltronics with design and delivery of employee sensitivity training, they knew it was an exciting opportunity to work with a thriving local organization.

As a result of this partnership, Human Resources Manager, Sherri McCallum shared that “[The Junior Counselors] were professional, respectful and delivered on their proposal.  It was an opportunity that benefited both them and Whirltronics . . . the SBDC is a great resource for small businesses and did a great job for [us].”

Thanks, Sherri! We wish Whirltronics all the best, and would love to work with them again the future.

Wolf Auto LLC

Service: Business Expansion

Wolf Auto

Bobby Wolf arrived at the idea of starting Wolf Auto LLC by complete accident. In 2010, the company that Wolf had worked at for 20 years went out of business. While unemployed and searching for a job, Bobby and his son, Jesse, decided to start a restoration project on an Audi S4 as a gift for his wife, Deb. They purchased it from a salvage yard and fixed it up. “It was stunning -- Pearl white with sport black interior. I remember that it was something special,” Wolf remembers.

Unfortunately, on the second day that Deb drove the car, it stopped running and left her stranded on the side of the road. The timing belt had slipped and destroyed the engine. Wolf was devastated that he didn’t have the funds to fix it. Jesse suggested that they should "part it out" – meaning sell parts of the car on websites such as Craigslist and eBay.

"To my astonishment, these parts were in very high demand and we made back all the money we spent for the car and the cost to repair it in about 1 month. We still had 2/3rds of the car remaining to sell. It quickly became apparent what our future was going to be, selling used Audi parts," Wolf says.

Wolf's mother took a line of credit against her house to allow him to lease his first shop and buy some cars to part out. They figured out how to maximize their profits and began to grow very quickly. Within 18 months, Wolf moved the operation from a 1750 sq ft building to 4800 sq ft building, but still were leasing.

"After continued growth, we needed a bigger shop again in our 4th year. We did not want to lease anymore, we wanted something of our own," says Wolf. Working with the Central Region Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the Wright County Economic Development Partnership (WCEDP), Wolf was able to secure the $668,000 financing package that he needed to build a new facility. The project was completed and the company moved in February of 2015.

The collaboration between SBDC and WCEDP is just one example of the unique relationships the SBDC has developed in order to better serve small businesses throughout the region. WCEDP Director, Duane Northagen, also serves as a consultant to the SBDC to create a win-win situation in terms of access to services for small business clients within his region.  Duane has worked tirelessly to expand WCEDP programming, and his dual role has allowed him to leverage a greater skill pool while affording the SBDC the opportunity to broaden its presence in Wright County.

GlassWerks

Service: Operations

GlassWerks

GlassWerks, an auto and home glass repair and replacement company servicing Central Minnesota, has maintained a consistent relationship with Professional Business Consultant, Bruce Theilman since 2011. The SBDC has helped guide GlassWerks into the position of being the successful and reputable glass industry organization it is today. It is unsurprising, then, that when owners Randy Lucas and Jason Leistman had questions about improving GlassWerks’ personnel infrastructure, they turned to the SBDC for help. Junior Counselors Jaclyn Holt and Lindsey Knights, graduate students at St. Cloud State University, met with the pair to discuss where GlassWerks had room for improvement, and got to work on recommendations for the organization. As students of Industrial/Organizational Psychology, a field which focuses on applying scientific theories and principles of human behavior to the workplace, Jaclyn and Lindsey quickly saw that empowering management and clarifying staff roles and responsibilities had the potential to improve functions and flow for GlassWerks. With the help of the Junior Consultants, Randy and Jason put into place brand new task-based formal job descriptions, and had an outline for how to empower their management staff to encourage efficient and excellent work. Jackie and Lindsey asked Jason and Randy a few questions to assess their reaction to working with the SBDC, and they had the following to share:

  1. Q: Can you describe your experience working with SBDC's junior consultants?
    A: We had a fantastic experience working with our junior consultants, Lindsey and Jackie. They were prompt, very professional and provided us with an in-depth analysis of our operation
  2. Q: What is the most valuable lesson you learned from them?
    A: That our business needs more structure. We needed to eliminate some gray area by creating more defined roles through job descriptions
  3. Q: Do you see GlassWerks utilizing anything you learned working with them?
    A: Definitely. We will be more procedurally sound moving forward due to their recommendations and insight
  4. Q: Do you feel the junior consultants responded to your needs as a small business?
    A: Yes. They were extremely attune to our wants and needs
  5. Q: Did you feel confident that the junior consultants would deliver the best quality counseling available?
    A: Honestly, we were a bit skeptical from the start, but they made us believers. They were very thorough with their research of our industry and the provided terrific insight.
  6. Q: Based on your experience, what would you tell other business owners regarding the SBDC?
    A: Utilize this fantastic resource. The SBDC is an additional team member that can help you through some of your most challenging times. The SBDC has been the most beneficial resource we have found to help with our day-to-day operations. They have allowed us to work more "on" our business, instead of always working "in" our business.

SBA

Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and regional support partners. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the program sponsors. Programs are open to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact Central Region SBDC at 320-308-4842.

SBDC