Veterans, Guards, Reservists

If you are thinking about purchasing a franchise, keep the following 5 tips in mind.

Betty Otte, SCORE Counselor

If you are thinking about purchasing a franchise, keep the following 5 tips in mind.

SCORE to Launch New e-Business Learning Website for Small Business

Date
Tue, 2011-03-22 23:02

Consortium of Public and Private Organizations

In Helping Entrepreneurs Leverage Technology to Fuel Their Growth and Success

 

Patriot Taxiway Industries Succeeds By Using Advice From SCORE Mentor

Kevin McDermott and Steven Smits originally intended to operate a small company producing aviation lighting systems. They soon grew their business when only 20 months into operations, the company was awarded a $7.7 million contract from the Air Force to supply lighting at 28 bases. Kevin, vice president of business development, says, he and Steve, the president of the company who is a service-disabled veteran, made a conscious decision to hire veterans for the workforce they’d need to meet the contract.

Attending meetings at their local SCORE chapter, Kevin and Steven met with Milwaukee mentor Joan Burke for small business help.

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Owner/Founder
Kevin McDermott and Steven Smits
My Location
290 Pleasant Hill Road
Lomira WI 53048
United States
Employees
10
Year Company Formed
2007
My Successes

"There was an awful lot we didn't know" about starting a business, Kevin says. They must have learned a lot quickly, because Patriot Taxiway Industries received the 2010 SCORE Award for Outstanding Veteran-owned Business.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Attending meetings at their local SCORE chapter, Kevin and Steven met with Milwaukee counselor Joan Burke, and they were given checklists to understand what it takes to start a small business and to understand what they'd be up against.

How SCORE Helped

SCORE, Kevin says, gave them the framework to ask the right questions that would help them succeed regarding banks, liability insurance, marketing to the federal government. "In the military, we have a role, we have a task. The environment doesn't bother us; we fix airplanes," Kevin says. "It's different when we have to go out and hire people."

Education

Kevin and Steven each have more than 20 years’ experience in the Air Force National Guard. They met in 1988 and have been deployed together all over the world including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Kosovo and Somalia. Nevertheless, Kevin calls starting a small business one of the most challenging, albeit rewarding, things he’s ever done.

With Kevin's background in electrical engineering and optical design, and Steven's in avionics manufacturing, the two had strong credentials for producing their aviation lighting systems, which makes lighting systems for aviation customers, from the overhead lights in an airplane cabin, to the runway and anti-collision lights utilized by airports.

Fast Bags Corporation Raves About SCORE

“There has to be a better way.” That’s what Jack Licata used to think during his days as a U.S. Air Force missile officer.

Owner/Founder
Jack Licata
My Location
Basking Ridge NJ
United States
My Successes

On his mandatory monthly day of office duty, the chore he least looked forward to was emptying the trash. “It was both messy and inefficient having to dump the bins and replace liners,” Jack says

Following his discharge in 1988, Jack pursued several successful careers, first in truck sales, then as head of an environmental company that recycled auto oil filters, antifreeze and motor oil. But the idea of handling trash more efficiently stayed in the back of his mind. He frequently watched the problems encountered by fast-food workers when they emptied the large bins found in most restaurants. As the father of two young children, he also understood the hassles and potential messes that came with getting the trash ready for pick-up in the home.

By 2006, Jack was ready to devote more attention to the product, which he called Bag Ups. The biggest challenge—raising awareness of Bag Ups among his target commercial and retail markets—would require a more sophisticated marketing and distribution strategy. That’s when he decided to contact New York City SCORE.

What's Great About My Mentor?

One of the first things SCORE Counselor Elliott Merberg encouraged Jack to do was to focus on his business plan for Bag Ups. “It not only crystallized my thinking but made it easier to explain my idea to the outside world,” Jack says. “Over the next several months, I’d refine the plan and share it with Elliott, who would always give me new things to think about.”

Elliott also kept urging Jack to think of ways to get the product to market as quickly as possible.  “His mantra was ‘Get it out there,’” Jack says.  “I gained so much confidence from that because I know he sees a lot of ideas—some good, others not so good. For him to give that kind of support and say I have a good product was a tremendous boost.”

Jack’s strategy included visiting a Chicago housewares trade show, where he gave a presentation on Bag Ups before a panel of purchasing agents.  That led to a spot on the QVC cable shopping network and instant exposure for Bag Ups to complement his Web site.

Jack is working on taking Bag Ups to the next level, including getting the product into a broader range of stores and establishing links with Web sites that promote green products.  Elliott is helping Jack craft a proposal for a regional supermarket.  SCORE Counselor Howard Geltzer, whose experience includes promoting the Sony Walkman, is advising him on a marketing campaign that may include producing a 60-second TV commercial.

“I wasn’t a neophyte when it came to starting a business, but everybody needs to think outside the box,” Jack says. “And the only way to do that is to have someone from outside take a look at what you do. That’s what the people at SCORE do best. The level and breadth of their expertise is great.  Even if you’ve done all this before, they’ll give you insights and ideas that you might never have thought of.”

How SCORE Helped

I wasn’t a neophyte when it came to starting a business, but everybody needs to think outside the box. And the only way to do that is to have someone from outside take a look at what you do. That’s what the people at SCORE do best. Even if you’ve done all this before, they’ll give you insights and ideas that you might never have thought of.

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