Client Success Stories

  • Dixie Flag and Banner Company

    Dixie Flag and Banner Company

    A legacy client of The University of Texas at San Antonio SBDC since 1993, Dixie Flag and Banner Company has experienced exponential growth since Chairman and CEO Henry “Pete” Van de Putte, Jr. first worked with then Business Advisor, Mary Peters, on an SBA loan that would finance expansion into a 13,000 square foot facility. A manufacturer of flags and banners since 1958, the company has evolved into a trusted industry leader and its work can be seen across some of the most esteemed and recognized venues in the U.S.

    Dixie Flag’s relationship with the SASBDC would develop over the next two decades, as would its own leadership. Now a third-generation company led by Pete’s daughter, Vanessa Van de Putte, President and COO, multiple Dixie Flag employees have gone beyond advising with current Business Advisor Crystal Darby and engaged in SASBDC’s Building Business Excellence (BBE) course. The seven-week strategic leadership program supports established companies scale up. Dixie Flag has since adopted the Values Based Leadership (VBL) facet of the BBE training. The nationally regarded professional development tool created by HOLT CAT is practiced by prominent organizations including the San Antonio Spurs.

    The Outcome

    • Dixie Flag and Banner Company has provided flags for the San Antonio Spurs, the Valero Alamo Bowl, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, five U.S. Presidential Inaugurations, and more.
    • The company has manufactured flags as large as 150 feet by 300 feet.
    • Since the 1950s, the company has grown to employ 38 staff members and over the last 10 years, the company had plateaued at sales between $2.3 million and $2.7 million.
    • Today, Dixie Flag and Banner Company has annual sales exceeding $3 million.

    “As we have faced challenges over the years, the SBDC has been there providing amazing service to our small business.  The SBDC is a San Antonio treasure!  Finding the SBDC’s Building Business Excellence program has had a profound effect on Dixie Flag and Banner Company from the ways we make management decisions to the way the newest employee approaches his or her job. We will continue to send employees to this great program.” Henry “Pete” Van de Putte, Jr., Owner

     Dixie Flag and Banner Company

  • Comet Signs, LLC

    Comet Signs, LLC

    Nearly 60 years ago, Arthur S. Sitterle founded Comet Neon Advertising Company in San Antonio and later merged the company with Reynolds Signs to form Comet Signs, LLC in 2013. Today, Arthur S. “Pete” Sitterle, III, oversees operations alongside Tommy Reynolds and Mikal Harn. With expansion to Austin, Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth and Tyler markets, the company specializes in sign design, engineering, manufacturing, maintenance, and installation. An SA SBDC client since 2013, its portfolio includes the Fort Worth Texas Motor Speedway, H-E-B, and Valero. Senior Business Advisor Crystal Darby provided advising on social media management, targeted market development, and content development. The SBDC PTAC also provided direction on government contracting and human resources. The company’s expansion has created new jobs and retained existing jobs.

    “Crystal Darby has and continues to provide invaluable guidance through her wisdom and expertise, helping Comet Signs continue our business growth.  I feel that for any business, an “outside” voice is important to ensure we stay on track and maintain focus on our goals.”

  • Vertical Technologies Solutions Group

    Vertical Technologies Solutions Group

    Dan Pallone and business partner Carl Dugart have worked at a local Information Technology company for years. They started Vertical Technologies Solutions Group (VTSG) as a professional services organization with a laser focus on Infrastructure and Software Development. From their work at their current jobs, they identified a gap in the ability to evaluate and source Information Technology Professionals who are the cornerstone of every successful business. Exploiting this gap created a value proposition to find IT professionals of higher value coupled with significant cost savings to clients. They originally planned to focus on providing IT services, but discovered that it was difficult to obtain those contracts while working full time. They discovered, however, that they could launch an IT staffing firm first. They filed the company as an LLC in February 2014 and spent the rest of the year putting their platform and processes in place. Danny and Carl contacted Crystal Darby at the San Antonio Small Business Development Center for assistance with expanding their small business. She met with them to assist with marketing and provided them with direction on government contracting.

    They met business advisor Crystal Darby and received assistance with marketing, including advice on their target market, website text, and social media. Crystal referred them to the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) for help on government contracting and to the International Trade Center for advice on international staffing.  During 2015 and 2016, the company took off and in 2017 they secured a large contract with Texas State University and have continued to grow each year. Since then, Crystal has served as a sounding board for their projects and provided direction for them on marketing and government contracting. They have expanded their services and now provide managed services and installation as well as customized software solutions and IT staffing. For their expansion, VTSG secured a line of credit from a local lender and retained jobs. They anticipate an increase in sales.

    “With the help of Crystal at the SBDC, we were led in a path that allowed us to learn, grow and execute better than we were doing at the time.” Danny Pallone

  • Ultimate Classic Cars

    Ultimate Classic Cars

    Dennis Cahill and his wife Shirley are classic car enthusiasts, which steered them in the business of replicating classic cars. They operated their classic car manufacturing business in Fort Worth; but when they decided to move it to Boerne, they reached out to the UTSA Small Business Development Center for assistance. The Cahills received assistance from Senior Business Advisor, David Baenziger at the SBDC.

    With David’s help, the Cahills refined their business plan and financial projections resulting in their funding approval for the property in Boerne and for the business move to Boerne. They were able to add the equipment and staff needed for the new location.

    The Cahills also met with Crystal Darby at the SA SBDC who assisted with refining their marketing message, focusing their target markets and using social media for their marketing. With the help of the SBDC, their move to Boerne was successfully accomplished. The Cahills received the funding to help with the expansion.

    Today, the Cahills operate a manufacturing facility, Ultimate Classic Cars, in a newly renovated facility in Boerne, Texas. They manufacture 1965 Cobra Replica kits and 1953 Corvette Replica kits. They also buy and sell cars that they take into consignment and then restore them.  Due to the assistance from the SBDC, new jobs were created and existing jobs were retained.

    “David Baenziger was very knowledgeable as to what the banks would require from us to approve a loan. We would probably not have succeeded in obtaining the loan without his guidance.” Dennis and Shirley Cahill

  • Facekey Corporation

    Facekey Corporation, Annette Starkweather and Yevgeny Levitov, Founders 

    Annette Starkweather and Yevgeny Levitov founded Facekey Technologies in 1999. Facekey manufactures security products that use biometrics, fingerprint and face recognition, for identification. Annette has decades of experience in business development, management strategies, and alternative financing requirements, with an emphasis on financing and the oil and gas industry. She serves as the CFO for the company. Yevgeny had more than thirty years’ experience in the image recognition field. He previously served in engineering and management positions for one of the largest manufacturers of medical equipment, and a global manufacturer of wiring devices. Yevgeny serves as President of Facekey.

    Headquartered in San Antonio, Facekey has pioneered and patented a family of biometric products and solutions that utilize face recognition or fingerprints for identification. From small businesses to global enterprises, Facekey’s family of products have a proven record with employee time and attendance tracking, asset protection and crisis management.

    The company had the opportunity to acquire face recognition technology, which they believed was necessary for access control.  All the access control products available allowed access with the right card, but could not tell if it was the right person.  In addition, the access control products required many cable runs and lots of labor.  Facekey decided to develop security products to run on the network that could identify the right person via by recognizing their face. They believed this would reduce the cost of the system and provide a much higher level of security.The goal of Facekey is to provide security products that actually provide security and reduce the cost of operations. The business will be able control access to their facilities and reduce the cost of labor and materials during installation and the cost of admin during use.  No cards are required.   The result is a system with accurate identification, low cost installation and operation, which will help business operate safer and be more profitable.

    Annette and Yevgeny are long-term clients of the SBDC, since 1999. They started working with Crystal Darby in 2015. The three have met often to focus on marketing, specifically to help with determining their target market. Through the help received from the UTSA SBDC, the company has been able to structure a viable marketing plan.  This includes development of a new web page, development of new marketing collateral, and beginning an extensive email-marketing program.  These efforts have resulted in increased sales and strengthened the company’s ability to move forward.

    Facekey is working with Diebold, a financial self-service, security and services corporation, internationally engaged primarily in the sale, manufacture, installation and service of self-service transaction, electronic and physical security products, software and related services for global financial and commercial markets. As a result, Facekey anticipates an increase in sales this year. They have three full-time and one part-time employee, which were retained from their recent expansion. Facekey has not formally sought any loans.  Currently, the company is assessing their best sources for procuring funds for marketing. In the short term, they need to grow sales so they can provide good paying jobs in San Antonio.  Their task to meet the goal is to strengthen their dealer/reseller channels. Longer term, they would like to become the “GO TO” vendor for manufacturers if they have a product, such as a cabinet or equipment, that requires identification for access or to start/use.

    “Facekey has depended heavily on advisors and training programs to get the company to its current position. Helping us think through the profile of our target market has been a very specific task. Currently, we are meeting frequently to study and resolve ongoing issues as they appear.”  Annette Starkweather and Yevgeny Levitov