Pat McMullen, Owner, MGS Construction
“Crystal Darby, Business Advisor at the San Antonio SBDC, helped us prepare our first marketing brochure that we used to brief one of the largest pipeline firms in the United States.”
It’s hard to imagine how Pat McMullen could be “bored” doing very little work and making very good money. But, that is exactly what frustrated him back in the ‘90s. For years, he had helped people start or grow their businesses but as he got older, felt he wanted to “practice what he preached.” With over 35 years of management expertise in environmental, engineering and construction, Pat started an electrical contracting company, in July of 2010. McMullen Global Services dba MGS Construction is a service-disabled, veteran-owned business providing electrical contracting services to three distinct markets – Federal, Commercial and Industrial. Prior to starting the business, Pat sought the guidance of experts at the UTSA Small Business Development Center (SBDC) including business advisors in the Veterans Assistance Program, the Human Capital Program and the San Antonio SBDC. The advisors were able to help with refining the company’s business plan, developing an employee manual, coaching on how to secure a bond and the creating of an effective marketing message. After experiencing considerable success in government contracting, Pat was eager to expand into the commercial sector. Business Advisor Crystal Darby helped focus the company’s marketing efforts on pipeline and electrical installation which lead to acquiring a commercial contract with the largest pipeline firm in the United States. Pat also credits Crystal with “being solely responsible for the company’s acceptance into a jointly sponsored Association of General Contractors/Bexar County 10-week training program” which provided various growth opportunities and participation in the affiliated two-year Mentor-Protégé program.
Regina Graves, Owner, The Gourmet Ice Company
“The support from Sharon Miller and the SBDC has been instrumental in helping my business grow. Sharon is exceptionably knowledgeable and full of great ideas that helped me make decisions for my business.”
As a youngster, Regina Graves spent many years vacationing at the beach where snacking on sweet, Hawaiian shaved ice became her summer tradition. She even dreamed of owning a shaved ice stand one day. After college, she secured a job with a stable paycheck and benefits, but her entrepreneurial spirit kept reminding her of her dream. When many of her colleagues began retiring, she was always surprised to hear how many of them were retiring to start their dream job. In 2011, Regina came across a vintage Airstream trailer for sale and told her husband, “We have to buy this. If I don’t get this trailer, I’ll regret it forever.” They bought the trailer and she quit her job to pursue her dream of opening her own shaved ice stand. That same year, Regina gave birth to her son and she and her husband committed to a more all-natural lifestyle. While investigating alternative shaved ice syrups, Regina could not find any “all-natural” options so she began making syrups from scratch. Regina quickly became frustrated with city requirements for opening a mobile food business and sought out the help of the New Braunfels SBDC. Business Advisor, Sharon Miller assisted Regina with her business plan, marketing decisions, financial and operation planning and managing costs. The Gourmet Ice Company opened in May 2012 and was welcomed with open arms by the community. Regina and her husband have plans to expand the company to include a storefront in the next couple of years.
Bob Wolf, Owner, Bob Wolf Creations
“My business has profited immensely from its relationship with Sharon Miller at the New Braunfels office. I recommend their free services and resources to small business owners and prospective business owners.”
Bob Wolf has been making one of a kind stone jewelry full-time for more than five years. A two time state of Texas Artist finalist, he has a passion for creating things of beauty provided by nature. Bob creates his unique pieces from raw rough rock and precious wire. He uses rock that varies in size and hardness which he collects from trips to Colorado, from mines around the world and from fellow rock collectors. Bob states “the rock ‘whispers’ how it wants to be cut,” when describing the first step in the cutting process. The rock is cut into a slab, shaped, trimmed, polished, then hand wrapped in sterling silver or 14 karat rolled gold wire. He sells his pieces at art shows and on his online shop. As a self-employed business owner, Bob found he was so busy with daily operations that he could not find time to think about the “big business picture.” He contacted Sharon Miller at the UTSA SBDC New Braunfels office for help. Sharon helped conduct a cost analysis that helped better price products to achieve a profit, review financials and create a business strategy that included assessing target markets and sales venues including an online store. Bob quickly saw a return on investing time with his advisor. The company experienced a 27 percent growth in sales in 2012 and Bob believes that it was due to the guidance he received from the SBDC.
Diana Caballero, Owner, Texas South Hearing
“Without the SBDC, I would not have been able to start my own business. Crystal’s knowledge, experience and encouragement helped solidify that this was the right thing to do and that I did not need to go anywhere else.”
Diana Caballero holds a special place in her heart for people like her daughter. As the parent of a hearing impaired child, Diana has experienced first hand the frustration and anxiety involved with purchasing, fitting and living with hearing equipment. Diana worked nearly eight years as a hearing instrument specialist for a hearing aid company. When the company changed ownership, Diana knew she needed to venture out on her own. She met with San Antonio SBDC Business Advisor Crystal Darby to outline the first steps of starting her own hearing aid business. With Crystal’s help, Diana registered her business name, contacted insurance companies and started the credentialing process. Diana’s initial investment and long hours paid off. Licensed by the State of Texas as a Hearing Instrument Specialist, Diana describes her business, Texas South Hearing (TSH) as a community outreach program due to its focus on helping those in the community who may not have access to quality hearing health care. She reaches out to local churches, retirement homes and nursing homes to offer services. TSH works out of three locations – two churches, a main office and a mobile service. “Providing the highest quality of hearing healthcare with the highest ethical standards is what Texas South Hearing is all about,” says Diana. TSH plans to set up a permanent location and establish a web presence in the near future.
Vance Nelson, Owner, HealthTec Software, Inc.
“The help we received from Mark Ahrens and the SBDC was instrumental in helping to prepare forecasting spreadsheets and other documents that took our own data and formatted it in a way that financial institutions understood. This was instrumental in expanding credit lines and helped us move forward with marketing and new hires.”
In 1999, HealthTec Software, Inc. was formed in San Antonio, Texas with an initial focus of delivering practice management products and services for medical and dental practices nationwide. The company now provides electronic medical records and practice management software that is ONC-ATCB government certified for Meaningful Use. They serve the needs of single and group medical and dental practices of all sizes across many specialties, answering the need for powerful but easy to use tools to efficiently manage both the clinical and financial sides of the practice. Owner Vance Nelson has brought together a great team dedicated to cultivating long-term relationships with their clients. With the HITECH Act and the Affordable Care Act, the landscape for healthcare is changing for all involved, especially for physicians. Vance knew that their products were uniquely designed for easy adoption and would be able to change along with the practice. He also knew that he would need to grow and prepare to help more physicians. He met with Business Advisor Mark Ahrens at the Small Business Development Center for help in securing a substantial line of credit through Wells Fargo Bank. Mark assisted Vance with completing an updated business plan and financial projections, which was instrumental in securing the new line of credit. As part of their growth strategy, the company will continue to reach out to the SBDC for help and guidance.