Alex Gonzalez, Owner, Monster Mini Golf
“Mark helped me realize my vision to start a Monster Mini Golf in San Antonio. I look forward to continuing to work with him and the SBDC in the future”
Alex Gonzalez felt the time was right to move forward in starting a new Monster Mini-Golf venture in San Antonio. He realized that even though this franchise has locations throughout the United States, each location is unique and custom-designed. Monster Mini Golf is an exciting indoor, glow-in-the-dark, monster-themed 18-hole miniature golf park. Monster Mini Golf customers experience the adventure of playing mini golf within cool monster décor and custom, animated props at every turn. This mini golf center offers challenging courses for children and adults to enjoy. While navigating through the golf courses, guests are entertained by an in-house disc jockey. The venue includes party rooms and an array of arcade games. Corporate events such as team building activities or after work parties can take place in their private meeting rooms. Having extensive management experience and the knowing that the Monster Mini Golf franchise has been successful in other cities, Alex eagerly met with Mark Ahrens, Business Advisor at the San Antonio SBDC for guidance. Mark assisted Alex in developing a complete financial loan package for financing the business. This included a feasibility study, business plan review, financial projections, site selection, staffing assistance and promotional planning. The new franchise opened in the fall of 2011 and has created 17 new jobs. Alex continues to work with Mark on marketing ideas and website design.
Foard Houston and Debbie Calame, Owners, Rose Hall at Sandy Oaks Ranch
“I cannot thank Ben Garza and the SBDC enough for all the support and wealth of information in helping us prepare for this new adventure! We could not have done it without the knowledge and dedication that walked us through this process. Many, Many Thanks”
Sandy Oaks Ranch in Devine, Texas was originally a wing-shooting facility with lodging; however, due to a severe drought in South Texas, the quail population declined dramatically. Making a living solely on the hunting industry would not bring enough income to keep the business profitable. It was then that owners Foard Houston and Debbie Calame envisioned a plan to utilize Sandy Oaks Ranch for a new venture – a “special events” rental facility. Specifically, they wanted to promote the use of their land for weddings, receptions, and other special events. They started promoting weddings at their Live Oak Pavilion which is primarily an outdoor facility. After a few weddings, they discovered that they needed to build a beautiful banquet hall with an outdoor gazebo for brides to have the option of having an indoor or outdoor wedding. The ability to build the new hall would be possible through securing substantial funding, so Ben assisted them with updating their financial projections and helped them prepare the loan package to submit to a lender. Upon loan approval, construction of “Rose Hall” began. Today, the newest addition is a 6,000 square foot, climate-controlled hall with a 10-foot wraparound porch tucked in the most natural setting of Live and Spanish Oaks. The name Rose is derived from Foard’s grandmother, Rose Harpman Meyer, who originally owned the property along with Ferdinand Meyer. They both passed the ranch down to their daughter Carol Houston, Foard’s mother. Rose’s painting will be displayed in Rose Hall in their office for all to admire. Their new expansion, Sandy Oaks Ranch created 15 new jobs and retained two existing jobs.
Bob Wolf Creations (New Braunfels, TX)
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.
“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
David Ott and his wife Minda are long-time clients of Senior Business Advisor Mike Reyes at the San Antonio Small Business Development Center. Mike assisted them with buying a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (RMCF) franchise in 2001. They now have several successful stores located all over Texas, including San Marcos, Laredo, Houston, Round Rock and the most recently opened New Braunfels location.
The first Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory store opened sixteen years ago in New Braunfels and was located in what was back then an outlet mall. Coincidentally, Minda took a job at that store and learned the business well. A few years ago, the Otts visited that same location which was no longer an outlet mall, but a thriving shopping center. And, to their delight, a large grocery store had opened nearby and the area was experiencing significant growth. Since there had been an RMCF store in that area before, the Otts thought it would be a good idea to bring back a store to New Braunfels.
After working with Mike, the Otts quickly developed a business plan and financial projections for a loan request. The New Braunfels RMCF store opened in March 2012, after a long absence. David and Minda are proud to say they are associated with RMCF Inc. as they provide great service and a product ranked by a national publication as the best tasting gourmet chocolate in the nation.
“Our relationship with Mike Reyes has been a lasting one and we appreciate his openness in advising us of what may lie ahead if certain conditions prevail. Ultimately, final decisions are made by us, but it’s good to know you have an organization like the SBDC watching your back.” David and Minda Ott
Bucky J’s Marine (McQueeney, TX)
Heath Cooper was raised around cars and spent countless hours working with his father and grandfather who were mechanics. After eight years of working as a mechanic himself and looking for a change, Heath applied for a job as a skier at SeaWorld. Skiing had been a hobby of Heath’s since a young age. After getting hired, he was asked to repair the ski boats used in the shows. The experience prepared him well for what would later become his business, Bucky J’s Marine.
In 2011, the Seguin Chamber of Commerce referred Heath to Rural Business Advisor Wayne Looff at the Small Business Development Center’s New Braunfels office. Wayne helped develop a business plan with financial projections and provided advice on the loan process. Funding from an SBA loan helped open the doors to the boat repair business in the spring of 2012. Bucky J’s Marine is housed in a 6,900 square foot metal building located just a few feet away from Lake McQueeney and primarily caters to residents of Lake McQueeney, Lake Placid and Lake Dunlap. It is the only shop in the area that specializes in ski boat repair. The business also offers maintenance of boats and detail work. Future plans include adding large storage sheds where customers can house their boats in the down season.
“Wayne walked us through the whole process, from the idea to the funding. There is no question in my mind that this business startup would not have gone as easily as it did without Wayne’s help.”
LEMEILLEUR’S RV, TRUCK AND EQUIPMENT REPAIR COMPANY
David and Denise LeMeilleur, Owners, LeMeilleur’s RV, Truck and Equipment Repair Company
“Phillip and the SBDC were great at assisting us with our expansion. The information he was able to provide gave us a good start in putting together our business plan, which in turn helped us in getting the financing we needed for our new building and business expansion. It was a pleasure to have someone with his knowledge and skills working with us to help us succeed in our venture.”
LeMeilleur is a French name for “the best.” So it’s no surprise that LeMeilleur’s RV, Truck and Equipment Repair Company take their name seriously. The company provides “the best” full service engine repair facility in Kerrville. This elite mom and pop shop provides maintenance, service and repairs for all foreign and domestic vehicle types. David and his wife Denise have a long history in the Kerrville area with family ties dating back several generations. As a young boy, David spent his days building motors for his model cars and working on his lawnmower motors. During his teenage years, he bought a 1970 Super Bee and discovered the value of doing automotive repairs himself. The LeMeilleurs started operations in 1998 and after realizing their growth potential they searched for a larger facility which would enable them to capitalize on customer demand. They reached out to Phillip Webb, rural business advisor at the Small Business Development Center in the Kerrville office for assistance with expanding their facilities to a bigger location. Phillip helped the David and Denise with expansion feasibility, business plan review and financial projections. The LeMeilleurs obtained the financing necessary for their expansion to their new, larger location as well as an SBA loan for purchasing equipment. They have already experienced a substantial increase in sales from last year. Today, David uses the most advanced techniques in auto repair, but always remembers the lessons he learned years ago – the right care can extend the life and performance of any vehicle. The Car Care Professionals Network recently chose him to serve on their Leadership Committee which makes him one of only 12 professionals nationwide chosen for this committee.
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.