Retail and Wholesale Trade

Dabney Properties LLC Finds Success With SCORE

Meet Slayton Dabney, President of Dabney Properties www.dabneyproperties.com, a corporate housing firm he started about four years ago. His niche is satisfying folks in need of upscale temporary housing. His clients include individuals on temporary business assignments and those who have their job relocated. Also, people displaced due to a property insurance loss, and Virginia legislators while the General Assembly is in session.

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Owner/Founder
Slayton Dabney
My Location
Richmond VA
United States
My Successes

Dabney leases fully furnished apartments and condos at such downtown Richmond addresses as Vistas on the James, the Miller & Rhoads Residences, and the River Lofts. They also have properties listed in Richmond’s West End as well as Fredericksburg and Charlottesville.

Dabney says “I wanted to own investment property. When I was still working at IBM, I bought a townhouse and lived in it for
6 months. I furnished it and set it up to be a corporate unit. I advertised on Craigslist and an executive from Mead Westvaco contacted me, and signed a 6 month lease.”

Ownership is expensive, so the majority of properties are rented by Dabney Properties from property management companies
or their owners. Dabney then furnishes the apartments and subleases them to their clients. “Right now we have about 50 individual units, and all are rented”, says Dabney.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Dabney, age 33, received his master’s degree in business from Georgia Tech and completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Virginia. He says “Initially a financial advisor and friend suggested I contact SCORE for guidance. In 2007 I called the Richmond SCORE office and was referred to counselor, Hank Farrell. At the time my business was less than a year old and Hank and I met several times. He offered me good advice in creating a viable business plan, website and promotional literature”. 
“I came to realize it was important to have a business line of credit if I was to continue to grow the business. Although the economic climate was deteriorating, we were able to secure a fairly substantial credit line from two banks”.

How SCORE Helped

“Hank Farrell has proven to be a real friend. I have always felt like I could pick up the phone and Hank would be willing to meet with me at a moments notice. Dabney properties is grateful for the support we have received from the Richmond SCORE Chapter. You have made a real difference”, states Slayton Dabney.

FoxTale Book Shoppe

Ellen Ward had run an ad agency for 18 years. Jackie Tanase had worked as a corporate paralegal. Karen Schwettman was a freelance interior designer. All three shared a lifelong passion for writing, books and independent bookstores.

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Owner/Founder
Ellen Ward, Jackie Tanase, Karen Schwettman
My Location
105 East Main Street, #138
Atlanta GA 30188
United States
Year Company Formed
2007
My Successes

The trio thought back to the encounter with the fox near Denver and decided that “fox tale” would make a great name for their new bookstore. Since opening in June 2007, FoxTale Book Shoppe has been embraced by the community. The mayor of Woodstock declared opening day “FoxTale Book Shoppe Day.”

“It’s amazing how much the bookstore has helped bring about a sense of community,” Karen says. Jackie adds, “We greet our customers as they come in and try to make them feel welcome. We’ve made friends, and you know just what they need the more you get to know them.”

In addition to books, the store also sells greeting cards, knickknacks and writing tools. “Our customers can get things they can’t buy anywhere else,” Ellen says. “We’ve also been in just about every publication in the Atlanta area, including the Atlanta Journal, Atlanta magazine and the Fox 5 morning show.” They also reach out to job fairs and local schools, and even talked about being an entrepreneur with students at Woodstock Middle School.

When the final Harry Potter book was printed, they held a party in the gazebo across from their store and more than 100 people showed up. “When we opened the boxes at midnight, the people rushed in, bought their books, and rushed out,” Jackie says.

Ellen, Jackie and Karen are proud of their growing business. “An independent bookstore puts money back into the community and not back into a corporation,” Ellen says. “We support the community, and it instills a sense of ownership in our customers.”

The three continue to receive mentoring and advice from Atlanta SCORE and Hooper Wesley. “SCORE will shine helping people who wouldn’t go into business without a strong support base,” Karen says.

What's Great About My Mentor?

"SCORE mentor Hooper Wesley said, what a great idea, this could work. It really encouraged us. He was with us every step of the way. He even went to meetings with us at the bank. SCORE will shine helping people who wouldn’t go into business without a strong support base." says Karen Schwettman, co-owner, FoxTale Book Shoppe, Woodstock, GA.

Hooper formerly worked for the governor’s office and he has a lot of experience in financing and the government. Last year, Atlanta SCORE clients secured more than $1.5 million in SBA-backed loans. Hooper’s clients account for almost half that amount. “If he gets excited about a client, he goes to the nth degree,” says Atlanta SCORE Vice Chair.

“We told Hooper our idea and concept,” Karen says. “He said, what a great idea, this could work. It really encouraged us.” Hooper began working with them on their business plan. “He was with us every step of the way,” she adds. “He even went to meetings with us at the bank.”

How SCORE Helped

SCORE will shine helping people who wouldn’t go into business without a strong support base.

Mountain Glory Creations Succeeds With Help From SCORE Mentor

www.mountainglorycreations.com

Jan Seale and Bob Brandenburger had big plans for their retirement years--travel, visits to family members, and perhaps a small business that would provide some extra income without cramping their newfound freedom.

But just ten days before bidding farewell to the nine-to-five routine, an automobile accident restricted Jan’s mobility for several months.

Suddenly faced with more down time than they’d expected, Jan and Bob began experimenting with their new digital camera.  They photographed the scenic natural beauty and architecture near their Charlottesville, Va., home, and used their home computer and printer to create note cards for friends.  As the distinctive note cards got around, Jan and Bob began receiving more and more requests for additional sets.

“This looked like the interesting and flexible business opportunity we had hoped to find,” Jan says of the enterprise they named Mountain Glory Creations.  “However, both of us had been public-sector administrators.  We had a lot to learn about running a small business.”

 

My Location
Charlottesville VA 22903
United States
Employees
2
Year Company Formed
2003
My Successes

SCORE’s counseling and seminars have helped Jan and Bob grow Mountain Glory Creations at a comfortable pace. Their regular appearances at the summer Charlottesville City Market have led to new products such as prints, calendars and computer screensavers, as well as commissions to photograph area homes, farms, restaurants and vineyards.  The couple also learned how to create a web site that exposes their products to an even wider market.

What's Great About My Mentor?

 “Steve Cooper introduced us to a number of marketing paths, and how to evaluate their potential value to our business.  He also gave me tips for approaching store owners about selling our cards, which was important since I’m not a natural salesperson.” says Bob.

Cooper also offered suggestions managing large influxes of orders, and cost- and labor-saving measures such as using an area printer for some of the more popular note cards.

How SCORE Helped

Jan and Bob discovered that the local chapter of SCORE offered a series of low-cost seminars for new and prospective entrepreneurs.  While the formal presentations gave the couple valuable information about business planning, financial management and other start-up issues, SCORE Counselor Steve Cooper provided free advice on specific aspects of their business idea.

Jan and Bob have a ready answer to anyone who admires their success and expresses interest in getting a business started.  “We send them all to SCORE,” Jan says, “and we’re pleased to hear that many have indeed called them.”

SCORE Mentor Advices Jones Natural Chews Co.

Jones Natural Chews Co. is a manufacturer of natural dog treats with national distribution and international accounts.

My Location
3450 Pyramid Drve
Rockford IL 61109
United States
My Successes

Jones Natural Chews Co. is a manufacturer of natural dog treats with national distribution and international accounts. The management team at Jones Natural Chews Co has been utilizing the business consulting services of SCORE in Rockford, IL since the business relocated to Rockford in the year 2005. We have found the services of SCORE to be an invaluable resource for the business.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Bob Christianson with SCORE has helped us to understand the importance of a written contract-emphasizing the fact that if it is not in the writing, it does not exist. Bob has also helped us to evaluate cash flow and understanding the importance of maximizing assets before an expansion or any other changes.

For Jones Natural Chews Co. it has been extremely helpful to know that we can consult with a professional businessman that has qualified experience and knowledge that we can trust for genuine input. It is also a benefit that his input is an outside perspective, not being biased by internal company factors. We appreciate everything SCORE has done for us and will continue to use their services.

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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