Moving the conversation

best product v lowest price

Moving the conversation from “What’s your cheapest product?” to “What’s your best product?”

You know you’re doing things right when the conversation with your customers changes from “What’s your cheapest product?” to “What’s your best product?”

When Patrick McDonald opened McDonald’s Vacuum Center in downtown Arkansas City, Kansas in 2004 he opened with an eclectic mix of products and services that weren’t available in his home town. Used books, vacuum service, sales, and repair, sewing machine sales and repair – McDonald made all available to customers under one roof.

It was a diverse mix of product lines that worked on some days better than others.

McDonald, not unlike other small business retailers, often shot from the hip making decisions over the years without the guidance of a business plan. When we asked if he could go back in time what advice he’d give himself he shared “that it would have been nice to not experience the growing pains made in some of my rush decisions.”

McDonald realized that if he was going to grow from where he was to where he wanted to be it would take a dramatically new way of thinking. The business was getting too big to make rush decisions and hope that they work. .

McDonald knew about the Kansas SBDC and decided to tap into our market research to help with the decisions he was now faced with. He contacted Jason Cole of the Kansas SBDC at WSU located in Arkansas City.

When he contacted the Kansas SBDC, MoDonald had already expanded to Derby, Kansas, to grow his business in a new geographic market, but it wasn’t enough. He wanted to expand further in the Wichita, Kansas market. Cole gathered market research for McDonald to analyze where to identify his best opportunities and what those opportunities might be. By working closely with Cole, using both market research and consulting, McDonald decided that expansion this time would be realized through select brands and product lines.

To make this move, and to sustain growth, Cole and McDonald identified several changes to McDonald’s Vacuum Center – changes that would need to take place over time.

McDonalds-Logo

A new business model.

Operating multiple locations with new product lines as well as securing new dealer contracts required a different approach to business. The recent closure of an established quilting store in Wichita (due to retirement) added to the opportunity mix. And, all of McDonald’s growth hasn’t been limited to his second location. His original location in Arkansas City has grown to the point where he can separate his sewing and vacuum sales from used book sales. Together Cole and McDonald continue to research and develop a new business model that will support McDonald’s profitable growth.

A new approach to financing.

Over the years McDonald relied on cash flow to purchase the majority of his products. Market research identified opportunities to expand his product line from $300 sewing machines to $10,000 high-end machines. Additionally, McDonald was able to secure a protected dealership area with two major sewing and vacuum manufacturers. These changes would require a different approach to financing.

Because McDonald’s product mix involved expansion into new product lines, historical financial figures didn’t reflect future earnings. Cole took a 360 degree approach to develop accurate cash flow projections – key to helping McDonald manage his expanding business and to securing financing to support his growth. Cole used ProfitCents –a financial analysis and benchmarking tool – to evaluate how other small businesses were performing in the industry. Additionally he reached out to suppliers and manufacturers to get a better understanding of his potential revenues.

After gathering financial projections, benchmarks, and analysis. McDonald and Cole began reaching out to local resource partners. They began working with a local bank and regional Certified Development Company (CDC) to explore SBA funding and revolving lines of credit. And they reached out the county economic development organization to explore opportunities for support of local small business growth.

A new approach to operations.

Operating multiple locations with expanded product lines called for new systems. McDonald recognizes that this requires running his business different that he did in the past. Together he continues to work with Cole to put additional systems – inventory tracking, detailed profitability tracking by product line, and more. Since initially working with Cole, McDonald has recognized the need for and added a part-time bookkeeper to this the team member at McDonald’s Vacuum Center.

McDonald knows that part of what has grown his business and allowed him to secure exclusive brands is his reputation for quality service. He knows the key to his long-term sustainability and growth is ensuring that customers continue to have a positive experience at every location.

As McDonald’s Vacuum Center has grown, and McDonald has taken a more strategic approach to his business he’s noticed one great benefit that can‘t be overlooked. We’ll share it in his own words: “When I sold vacuums and sewing machines in my used book store, people would ask, “What’s your cheapest product?” Now they ask, “What’s your best product?”

For any small business, that’s a great conversation to have.

 

About McDonald’s Vacuum Center

Learn more online at http://mcdonaldsvacuums.com/

About the Kansas SBDC at WSU in Arkansas City

The Kansas SBDC Cowley County Outreach Center is a partnership between Wichita State University and Cowley College as well as funding partners that include: City of Wellington Economic Development Department, Cowley County Economic Development, Harper County Economic Development Council, and Sumner County Economic Development Commission.

About Jason Cole

Jason started as the Consultant for the Cowley College Kansas SBDC Outreach Center in 2012. Clients seeking loans find themselves in good hands, because Jason served as an Assistant Vice President for Home National Bank in Arkansas City. As a co-owner of Centaur Solutions, a company specializing in employee assessment, Jason developed a passion for creating high-performing workforces. He helps Kansas SBDC clients identify and solve employee issues that are constraining sales, operations efficiencies, and profits.

Jason also served as Adjunct Instructor with the Business & Industry Training branch of Cowley College and taught in the Wellington school system. Jason holds a B.S. in Business Administration from LeTourneau University and a M.S. in Business Education from Emporia State University.

He can be reached at 620-441-2563 or by emailing:  ksbdc@cowley.edu

 

Program facilitators in Kansas needed

searching for facilitators

Good facilitation is like beauty or even leadership, hard to describe but you know it when you see it. – Tim Fulton, nationally recognized consultant and advocate for small business

 

The Kansas Small Business Development Center (Kansas SBDC) network is actively seeking program facilitators for small business education programs delivered throughout the year. Some programs are one day or less in length; others involve a series of programs delivered over several weeks.

At the Kansas SBDC our focus is on growing Kansas entrepreneurs. Our program attendees will be entrepreneurs, small business owners and decision makers, as well as other individuals that work within the small business and entrepreneurship ecosystems in Kansas.

Do you have what it takes to facilitate some great events? We need program facilitators with the following qualifications:

 * extensive small business/entrepreneurial experience

* experience leading business teams

* a belief that the smartest people in the room are the participants

* an ability to be very flexible with the structure of the learning process

* a willingness to challenge participants in the programs

* a comfort level with being vulnerable

*desire to make a profound difference through entrepreneurship

We need program facilitators with the following skills:

*active listening

*guiding focused discussion

*guiding groups toward an agreed-upon set of outcomes

*helping groups define outcomes – set priorities

*people management

If this sounds like you, please contact Lisa Roberts at 785.296.6514 or email lsroberts@ksbdc.net.

 

Audrey Spirit, LLC

audrey spirit

Audrey Spirit LLC is an inspiring example of a business born out of passion, need, and love.

In 2011, Donna Yadrich lost her beloved 15-year-old daughter, Audrey Grace, from complications of serious medical problems.  Although appreciative of the tremendous care Audrey received during her countless hospitalizations, Donna observed that generic hospital gowns stripped young patients of their youthful attitude and personal dignity.  Street wear worn in the hospital required a nurse to unhook and re-hook medical lines just to change in to a clean shirt.  During Audrey’s final hospitalization, Donna made customized t-shirts that were both “hospital-friendly” and also expressed Audrey’s spunky personality. After 25 years in the medical field, Donna experienced a lapse in employment after Audrey’s death.  That is when Donna decided to launch Audrey Spirit LLC, a clothing manufacturer that continues her daughter’s mission – to make difficult times that hospital patients face as personable, comfortable and empowering as possible.

The first line of Audrey Spirit apparel includes xamtees™; these therapeutic t-shirts help nurses get around invasive medical devices without having to disconnect them or contort the patient’s body into uncomfortable positions.  Most importantly, the clothing looks “normal.”  Donna worked with an apparel designer to develop original, patent-pending designs for high quality garments that are comfortable and useful in medical environments.

With the help of the JCCC KSBDC, Audrey Spirit LLC marked its first commercial sale of xamtee™ therapeutic garments to a local children’s hospital in 2013. Donna explained that “without the support and guidance of the KSBDC, I would not have found a U.S. manufacturer to produce the garments that are being worn today by children fighting cancer and other critical illnesses.”  Donna has been meeting with Elisa Waldman of the KSBDC on a regular basis since 2012.  According to Donna, “Elisa provides an unmatched dimension of practical and visionary support for my small business.”

Convincing seasoned healthcare professionals to support a new venture, like Audrey Spirit LLC, and to embrace an innovative new product is challenging in the healthcare industry. Donna spent many months forging relationships within the healthcare system. She organized beta tests and meticulously surveyed patients, nurses, and doctors to gather feedback and suggestions for improvement of xamtee™ t-shirts.  Now that the t-shirts are available for sale, Donna continues to champion the needs of her customers by seeking payment for Audrey Spirit xamtee™   through medical insurance.

Donna has taken full advantage of KSBDC offerings including QuickBooks courses, business plan review, and in-depth assessment of financial goals and projections. Donna believes that “having the confidence through preparation and the numbers to support my financial projections directly reflects the efforts of the KSBDC. Elisa required me to stop avoiding unknown details and create a five-year sales plan. As a result, Audrey Spirit LLC won a $5000 award in a local pitch contest!”

Donna is an outstanding example of an entrepreneur who is succeeding as a result of determination, hard work, persistence, and the support of seasoned professionals. When Donna is asked for advice from new business owners, she always tells them that “every obstacle is an opportunity.” Donna truly practices this advice, and she remains busy identifying opportunities and designing future medical industry products worthy of Audrey’s legacy.

About Audrey Spirit
Owner:  Donna Macan Yadrich
Nature of Business:  Therapeutic Garment Manufacturer
City: Kansas City, Kansas
County: Wyandotte
Phone/website: (913) 980-6282   www.audreyspirit.com

About our consultant Elisa Waldman

Elisa Waldman brings her past experiences as an attorney and a retail store owner to her current position as a consultant for the Kansas Small Business Development Center (Kansas SBDC) at JCCC. Prior to joining the Kansas SDBC in 2005, Elisa earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and her law degree from George Washington University. Elisa practiced law in the Kansas City area with a focus on land use and business litigation, and she worked as the Advocacy Manager and in-house Counsel for the Academy of General Dentistry in Chicago, Illinois. While in Chicago, Elisa also taught as an adjunct professor at DePaul University Law School. She is currently an Adjunct Instructor of Business Law at Johnson County Community College.

Elisa left the practice of law to pursue her creative and entrepreneurial interests by opening Paint Glaze & Fire, Inc., a retail paint-your-own pottery studio in Overland Park. Elisa opened her small business with the assistance of the Kansas SBDC.  During her eight years of ownership, Elisa was responsible for all areas of business operations including marketing, finance, technical training, employee relations and customer service. In 2000, Elisa opened Successful Studio Consulting Inc. and has assisted over 200 pottery studios in opening their doors throughout the United States and Canada. Upon selling her studio, Elisa joined the Kansas SBDC as a full-time consultant.

Art In Iron

art in iron

Mike Hill has a love for metal art which he developed into a business idea— Art In Iron. As he began his ornamental ironwork business in 2012 in Garnett he realized he needed assistance in getting pointed in the right direction from the beginning. That’s when he contacted the Kansas SBDC at Pittsburg State University and began working with consultant Tom Byler. With Tom’s help, Mike developed a business plan which he admits resulted in starting an entirely different business than he originally envisioned, but found the process very educational. In addition to assisting with the business plan, Tom assisted with obtaining financing for the startup, equipment purchasing decisions, and most recently UPC barcode licensing.

Today Mike has a growing business in a tough economic environment. One of the challenges he continually faces is creating products efficiently with a decent margin. When he “gets it right” he considers this a great success. Because of the outside support he has utilized, he has been able to avoid certain pitfalls with Art In Iron by anticipating problems before they happen. art in iron

Mike also attributes the success of his small business, Art In Iron, to finding something that the large companies cannot do. Small businesses such as his can be nimble, creative and quick to adapt to changing markets and the business environment. His advice to other potential small business owners is

Don’t be afraid to change the business plan radically if needed since it is just a guide.

Be incredibly careful with startup capital as it will be gone quicker than expected. If every penny is not watched carefully, the business can be in trouble before the owner realizes it.

His advice to small business owners is to view every new person met as an opportunity to do business, and to actively expand their network daily.

SECRET TO SUCCESS

View every new person met as an opportunity to do business.–Mike Hill

About Art in Iron
Owner: Mike Hill
Nature of Business: Ornamental Ironwork
City, County: Garnett, Crawford County
Phone: 785-304-0825
Website: Hillforge 

Meet our consultant Tom Byler 

tom byler kansas sbdcTom Byler splits his time working as a consultant with the Kansas SBDC at PSU and ESU working out of his office in Chanute. Tom has expertise in sales development, manufacturing, and organizational management. He enjoys working behind the scenes with his small business clients and visibly supports their success. Tom  can be reached at: tbyler@pittstate.edu or 620-431-2820 ext 285.

Hard work grows a business

hard work grows a business

Dexter Pfeifer, owner of Pfeifer Landscaping, has demonstrated how hard work can grow a business. He created the business because of his love of landscaping and desire to own something of his own. What started as a passion has developed into a full-fledged landscaping business with a complete list of services including, but not limited to installing and repairing sprinkler systems, lawn maintenance, and landscape design. During the colder months, the business even offers snow removal services.

The business is located in Colby, Kansas, but has expanded to serve much of Northwest Kansas. Mr. Pfeifer reflects, “The greatest challenge was getting started.” His Kansas SBDC consultant sat down with him and went through the business plan and loan process step-by-step. “It taught me a lot about business and marketing I did not know before. It helped me look at the business at a different angle,” explained the owner.

Mr. Pfeifer is constantly surprised by the demand for services. One of his biggest successes has been the positive response to the business’ quality work. Even as the business grows, Dexter is planning for future expansion. His advice for budding entrepreneurs, “Make sure your heart is in it. Make sure this is something you want to put 80-100 hours a week into and still wake up with a smile on your face, ready to go to work.”

SECRET TO SUCCESS

“Working hard. When it comes down to the business you don’t have any days off. you learn from your mistakes and get better the next day.”

Owner: Dexter Pfeifer

Nature of Business: Landscaping Service

City, County: Colby, KS

Phone/E-mail: (785) 462-0134  /  pfeiferlandscaping@gmail.com

Structure: Sole Proprietorship:

Began: 2012

Employees: 3 full-time, 3 part-time

KSBDC Consultant: Megan Horinek

Get to Know the Consultant:

Hey Machinery Company, Inc.

Hey Machinery Company, Inc.

Any business that has been around for 85 years clearly has the ability to stand the test of time.  Hey Machinery Company, Inc., also known as Hey Wheel, has spanned four generations of family owners so far. Hey Wheel sells re-purposed aircraft tires for off-highway, agricultural use.  They also manufacture rims and centers.  Their products can be found on tractors, grain carts, feed wagons, and other agricultural implements all over the country.

Will Hey started the business in 1929.  Mr. Hey was a dealer for International Harvester, who also did custom threshing, house moving, lumber sawing, and anything else he needed to do to make the business go in the early days.  In 1938, Will Hey mounted an aircraft tire to a rim to be used off-highway, which proved to be a key development.

The business has been located on its current Baldwin City site since 1962.  Right around that time, Hey Wheel manufactured their first bolt-together wheel, which expanded the potential uses of aircraft tires.  Rather than disposing of  tires that don’t pass rigorous pre-flight inspection, Hey Wheel makes it possible for farmers and OEMs to use these tires, cost-effectively, in ways that make sense.

Long-standing family businesses face a number of unique challenges.  Hey Wheel approached the Kansas Small Business Development Center at the University of Kansas (Kansas SBDC at KU) for assistance with valuation and family succession/transition issues.

“Our KSBDC Consultant was easy to work with and completed a difficult assignment for us in a timely fashion,“ according to Bob Hey.  With careful planning, hard work, and the right assistance, Hey Wheel plans to be around to celebrate even more birthdays.

SECRET TO SUCCESS

 In our business, customer relationships are everything.  Whether it’s farmers or OEMs, we pride ourselves on meeting customers’ needs in the areas of price, quality, and delivery time. –John Hey

About Hey Machinery Company, Inc.

Owners: Bob Hey, John Hey, Bryan Hey
Nature of Business: Wheels, rims, aircraft tires for agricultural use
City, County: Baldwin City, Douglas
Phone: (785) 594-3441
Website: Hey Wheel

About our consultant Will Katz | Kansas SBDC regional director and consultant

Will has undWill Katz Kansas SBDC at KUergraduate majors in Philosophy and Russian to go along with an MBA and CVA (certified valuation analyst). Will has expertise in valuation, financial analysis, and non-traditional sources of capital. He loves working with small businesses because each one is a unique snowflake and a novel learning opportunity.  Will loves playing guitar, riding motorcycles, and spending time with his family.

Will can be reached at willkatz@ku.edu or 785-843-8844.

 

Moving the conversation forward

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving the conversation from “What’s your cheapest product?” to “What’s your best product?”

You know you’re doing things right when the conversation with your customers changes from “What’s your cheapest product?” to “What’s your best product?” When Patrick McDonald opened McDonald’s Vacuum Center in downtown Arkansas City, Kansas in 2004, he opened with an eclectic mix of products and services that weren’t available in his home town. Used books, vacuum sales and repair, sewing machine sales and repair – McDonald’s Vacuum Center made it all available to customers under one roof.

It was a diverse mix of product lines that worked on some days better than others. Most customers were always looking for the lowest price, a bargain – a tough situation for any business trying to take off and grow.

Early on McDonald, not unlike other small business retailers, often shot from the hip making decisions without the guidance of a business plan. When we asked what advice he’d give himself if he could go back in time, he shared, “that it would have been nice to not experience the growing pains made in some of my rush decisions.”

McDonald realized that if he was going to grow from where he was to where he wanted to be, he’d have to leave the shooting-from-the-hip method behind. The business he’d started was getting too big to make rush decisions with the hope that they’d work. It would take a new way of thinking. To get help with developing a new approach McDonald contacted Jason Cole of the Kansas SBDC at WSU located in Arkansas City. McDonald knew about the consulting offered by the Kansas SBDC and one of organization’s valuable but lesser-known resources – market research. When he contacted the Kansas SBDC, McDonald had already expanded to Derby, Kansas, to grow his business in a new geographic market, but was finding that the expansion wasn’t enough. He wanted to further expand his products and market share into the Wichita metro. Cole gathered market research for McDonald to analyze not only where his best opportunities were, but also what those opportunities might be in the near future. By working closely with Cole, using both market research and consulting, McDonald decided that any short-term future expansion would be realized through new select brands and product lines.

To make this move, and to sustain his current growth, Cole and McDonald identified several changes to McDonald’s Vacuum Center – changes that would need to take place over time.

 McDonalds-Logo (1)

A new business model.

Operating multiple locations with new product lines, as well as securing new dealer contracts, all while maintaining his growing original location in Arkansas City, would require a different approach to business. His original location in Arkansas City has grown to the point where it was time to separate his sewing and vacuum sales from used book sales. And the February 2014 closure of an established quilting store in Wichita (due to retirement) added to the opportunity mix. Together Cole and McDonald worked on a phased approach to keep all the moving parts working successfully.

As of today, they continue to research and develop a new business model that will support McDonald’s profitable long-term sustainability and growth.

A new approach to financing.

Over the years McDonald had relied on cash flow to purchase the majority of his products. Market research from the Kansas SBDC identified opportunities to expand one of his product lines – sewing machines – from the $300 sewing machines he was used to selling to $10,000 high-end machines. Additionally, McDonald was recently able to secure a protected dealership area with two major sewing and vacuum manufacturers. All of these changes taking place simultaneously called for a different approach to financing.

And with new financing, as most businesses know, McDonald would have to look at pulling together a business plan for lenders. So he and Cole began working on one of the key parts of his business plan – financial projections.

Cole tapped into his background in the banking industry to build projections along with current tools Kansas SBDC consultants access for clients. Because McDonald’s product mix involved expansion into new product lines, historical financial figures didn’t reflect future earnings, Cole took a 360 degree approach to develop accurate cash flow projections. Cole used ProfitCents –a financial analysis and benchmarking tool – to evaluate how other small businesses were performing in the industry. Additionally, Cole reached out to suppliers and manufacturers on McDonald’s behalf to gain a better understanding of his potential revenues.

After gathering financial projections, benchmarks, and analysis, McDonald and Cole began contacting local resource partners. They began working with a local bank and regional Certified Development Company (CDC) to explore SBA funding and revolving lines of credit. Additionally, they reached out to the county economic development organization to explore opportunities for support of local small business growth.

McDonald secured the financing he needed to manage his expanding business and support his growth. We believe one of the keys to securing McDonald’s funding was Jason Cole’s 360 degree approach to develop an actionable cash flow.

A new approach to operations.

Operating multiple locations with expanded product lines called for new systems. By working with Cole, McDonald recognized that this would require a different approach to operations. McDonald has recognized the need for and recently added a part-time bookkeeper to his team.

And while many things have changed, some things have remained the same. McDonald knows that part of what has grown his business and allowed him to secure exclusive brands is his reputation for quality service. He knows the key to his long-term sustainability and growth is ensuring that customers continue to have a positive experience at every location he has now and in the future.

McDonald continues to work with Cole to put additional systems – inventory tracking, detailed profitability tracking by product line, and others – to keep the business moving forward.

Moving forward.

As McDonald’s Vacuum Center has grown, and owner Patrick McDonald has taken a more strategic approach to his business, he’s noticed one great benefit that can‘t be overlooked – the change in how he competes in the market. Fewer and more infrequent are the days where customers call or stop by asking for the lowest price. Today’s conversation is focused on quality.

Looking back over the past ten years McDonald smiles and reflects, “When I sold vacuums and sewing machines in my used book store, people would ask, “What’s your cheapest product?” Now they ask, “What’s your best product?”

For any small business, that’s a great conversation to have.

About McDonald’s Vacuum Center

Owner: Patrick McDonald
Nature of Business: Used Books, Vacuum Sales & Repair, and Sewing Machine Sales & Repair
City, County: Arkansas City, Cowley County and Derby, Sedgwick County
Website: McDonald’s Vacuum Center

 About our consultant Jason Cole | consultant Kansas SBDC at WSU in Arkansas City

Jason started as the consultant for the Cowley College Kansas SBDC Outreach Center in 2012. Clients seeking loans find themselves in good hands with Jason’s experience as an Assistant Vice President for Home National Bank in Arkansas City. As a co-owner of Centaur Solutions, a company specializing in employee assessment, Jason developed a passion for creating high-performing workforces. He helps Kansas SBDC clients identify and solve employee issues that are constraining sales, operations efficiencies, and profits.

Jason also served as Adjunct Instructor with the Business & Industry Training branch of Cowley College and taught in the Wellington school system. Jason holds a B.S. in Business Administration from LeTourneau University and a M.S. in Business Education from Emporia State University. He can be reached at 620-441-2563 or by emailing: ksbdc@cowley.edu

Regulatory Fairness Forum for Small Business

Regulatory Fairness Forum for Small Business
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 | Wichita, Kansas

A forum for small business owners to discuss federal regulations, compliance audits, regulatory fines, and enforcement actions impacting small businesses.
This Small Business Forum will facilitate a dialogue on federal regulatory issues impacting small businesses and highlight resources available to small business owners from the U.S. Small Business Administration and the SBA’s Office of the National Ombudsman.

WHO: National Ombudsman Brian Castro will host a conversation with Wichita area small business owners, and other representatives of the small business community.

WHAT: The National Ombudsman holds Regulatory Fairness roundtables and forums across the country to give small business owners a means to comment on unfair enforcement actions, government audits, and excessive fines or regulations. The Ombudsman directs specific issues raised by participants to the appropriate federal agency for a high-level fairness review, and works across government to address those concerns, reduce regulatory burdens, and help small businesses grow.

WHEN: Wednesday, August 13, 2014
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

WHERE: Kansas Leadership Center
325 E Douglas Avenue
Wichita, KS 67202

All members of the small business community, trade organizations, chambers of commerce, and media are invited to attend. Those wishing to report a federal regulatory concern confidentially will have the opportunity to do so privately at the forum.

RSVP (encouraged but not required) to Michael Aumack at 316-269-6275 or by email to michael.aumack@sba.gov by Friday, August 1, 2014.

SBA logo

 

 

 

SBA’s programs and services are provided to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Reasonable arrangements for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least 1 week in advance. Contact: Ms. Keshia Ezerendu, Tele: 316-712-4961,
Email: kezerendu@kansasleadershipcenter.org

Interested in starting a business near Council Grove or Cottonwood Falls, Kansas?

main street cottonwood falls kansasStarting a business? Need a little help with your existing business?

The Emporia State University Kansas Small Business Development Center (Kansas SBDC at ESU) provides no-cost confidential consulting to existing small businesses and individuals interested in starting a small business in Kansas as well as low and no-cost workshops specifically designed to address your  business needs. Through both consulting and training, the Kansas SBDC at ESU can assist your business with:

  • Business plans
  • Financial projection development
  • Cash flow analysis
  • Marketing plan development
  • Human Resources
  • Sources of capital and financing
  • Inventory control procedures
  • Product costs analysis and pricing
  • Advertising strategies
  • Sales technique

Located in Emporia on the Emporia State University campus, the center serves several communities near Emporia, Kansas. Throughout the year, the center partners with several organizations across the state to grow and support Kansas Entrepreneurs. In partnership with the Council Grove/Morris County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism as well as the Chase County Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas SBDC at ESU will have a small business consultant in Council Grove and Cottonwood Falls from July through September 2014.

Dates          Time Location
July 8   11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Council Grove/Morris County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism
July 10   9:00 a.m. – noon Chase County Chamber of Commerce
August 12   11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Council Grove/Morris County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism
August 14   9:00 a.m. – noon Chase County Chamber of Commerce
September 9   11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Council Grove/Morris County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism
September 11   9:00 a.m. – noon Chase County Chamber of Commerce

 

If you would like to discuss issues concerning your existing business or starting a new business, as always our consulting services are free and confidential. To make an appointment call the ESU- KSBDC at 620-341-5308. Please make an appointment at least two business days in advance for the location which is most convenient for you.

For more information, or to share with others, download the information flyer CS MR County Flyer 2 – 2014 July-Sept.

A Family Business Machining Its Way To Success With Strategic Planning

Absolute Dimensions Stephen Brittain

Strategic planning, team training, and belief in employees have Absolute Dimensions machining its way to success.

The timing was right when Mike Rickords and his son-in-law, Stephen Brittain, decided to turn their dream of owning their own machine shop into reality. Mike had decades of experience working for a large aerospace manufacturer, and Stephen had held various positions from CNC operator to large assembly program manager at a small firm. So in 2003, when Mike heard that he might be laid-off, they both got serious about the idea of using their combined experience to start their own business.

Building the business plan

While they were putting together a business plan, they reached out to the Kansas Small Business Development Center (KSBDC) at Wichita State University. The KSBDC helped them create a more robust business plan to present to a bank for financing. “After 10 banks turned us down, Garden Plain State Bank approved a SBA guarantee 7(a) loan to finance one water-jet machine and some operating capital,” said Stephen. Then, on March 19, 2004, Absolute Dimensions, LLC opened its doors for business.

By 2008, the business was doubling its revenue every six months, and they needed another machine to keep up with demand. One week after they bought a new horizontal CNC machine, the strike at Boeing in Seattle hit the market hard. “Our financing and nerves got tight in those days. Luckily, we had some receivables and cash on hand to help us through those lean months” said Stephen. “Business was slow and we were concerned about our keeping our employees on the payroll, so we participated in the Kansas Shared Work program,” he added.

In 2009, Absolute Dimensions, LLC was able to obtain a SBA 506 Recovery Act zero-interest loan to help through the difficult time. They also kept in touch with the KSBDC for guidance on strategic planning, and even had all five of their office staff attend their workshops. The strategic planning process helped them diversify their product and service capabilities to include composite materials. They also added new customers outside the aerospace industry. Absolute Dimensions, LLC is now using their machining equipment to produce parts for a truck manufacturer, a company that makes signs, and they even make custom metallic inlays for tile.

By 2012, Absolute Dimensions, LLC, was growing to the point where they needed to consolidate their financing at a larger bank that had the capacity to service their needs. Today, the company’s 24 employees are trying to keep up with demand, and using every inch of available space in their facility.

Advice to other small business

When asked for their words of wisdom to other small business owners, Steven and his wife Miranda, who manages the office, said it is vital to manage the growth of your business. “You can grow too fast and put your business at risk”, said Stephen. “Save money when you have it because your cash flow can create constraints”, Miranda added. They both believe it’s important to reach out to organizations like the Kansas Small Business Development Center for expert advice on business planning. They gave a lot of credit to the KSBDC and the SBA for helping them navigate through the turbulent times.

The future looks bright for Absolute Dimensions, LLC. If things keep up, they may be looking for a new building and more automation to meet the growing demand.

Originally published at http://www.sba.gov/about-offices-content/2/3117/success-stories/753832

Additional video footage of Absolute Dimensions can be found here.

______________________________

Alan Badgley, consultant with the KSBDC at WSU assisted Absolute Dimensions. Alan has expertise in strategic planning, specialty finance, and training. Alan can be reached at ksbdc@wichita.edu  or 316-978-3193316-978-3193.