50+ Entrepreneurs

Syntes Language Group Inc.

For many people, trying to read or write another language can be a slow, mind-numbing exercise in frustration. For Beatriz Bonnet, it's a business opportunity. Her 11-year-old company, Syntes Language Group, has translated documents, manuals, and correspondence between English and more than 100 other languages. Although the firm has only 14 full-time employees, Beatriz expects Syntes Language Group to top $1.5 million in sales this year.

Beatriz Bonnet
My Location
Englewood CO
United States
Year Company Formed
My Successes

Not bad for a former teacher and part-time musician who "inherited" the firm in 1988. "I had a background in languages and had done some translating work for a friend, who had started the company [then called Global Communication Services] as a sideline," she recalls. "He was finishing law school, and offered to sell me the company in exchange for lunch. At the time, I thought, 'I'm just a flute player; what do I know about running a business?'"

Beatriz renamed the company Global Translation Services and most recently changed the name to Syntes Language Group. Initially, the company wasn't foremost in her life either; there was her music, teaching responsibilities and a master's degree to complete first. But word of the firm's services spread, and in 1990, Beatriz decided to devote herself full-time to expanding her company's solid reputation for quality work. When Beatriz and her husband relocated to Denver in 1995, Syntes Language Group moved with her. Yet she kept the Houston office open to serve the region's strong market for translation services.

With success, however, came many challenges, such as finding and retaining good translators, and managing two offices 1,000 miles apart. Beatriz had to make sure her employees were capable of handling the often complex assignments, as a misplaced word or wrong verb tense could easily cause headaches of literally global proportions. Fortunately, there was a resource that could help make sense of these complex issues—SCORE.

"I had been trying other resources as my business grew," Beatriz says. "While attending a business expo, I visited the SCORE booth and spoke to a mentor about my administration and human resources management concerns. He said that SCORE could provide exactly the kind of assistance I needed."

What's Great About My Mentor?

SCORE Mentor Phyllis Milway began applying her extensive knowledge of human resources and administration to Syntes Language Group's unique needs. She guided Beatriz through the maze of structuring compensation programs, interviewing and selecting candidates, checking references, and conducting new employee orientation, as well as the sometimes difficult process of termination.

Phyllis also offered suggestions on developing accurate and relevant job descriptions, employee handbooks, policies and procedures, and other personnel functions that are so vital—yet often overlooked—in supporting a company.

Phyllis currently serves on the board of advisors for Syntes Language Group. "Phyllis brings a breadth of experience that I couldn't have developed myself. She has been more than a great counselor," Bonnet says. "She's also a great friend."

Road Runner Courier/Boca Express

As an IBM executive specializing in world trade and domestic distribution, Michael Moyer never imagined that he would one day own a courier service. But after 30 years with IBM, Michael successfully launched a second and vastly different stage of his career. Now owner and president of Road Runner Courier, Michael feels a new sense of exhilaration as he watches his courier business take off fast, like the famous cartoon Road Runner.

Michael Moyer
My Location
Pompano Beach FL
United States
Year Company Formed
My Successes

In 1982, Michael was transferred to Delray Beach, Florida with a team of 50 employees to head up IBM's new personal computer sales. The excitement of launching a brand new product with a small team is what first gave Moyer the "entrepreneurial bug."

IBM rapidly expanded its sales department in Boca Raton to 9,000 employees. But the company soon folded its local operation in Florida, leaving Michael with a choice—to stay in Florida or to stay with IBM. Michael chose to stay in Delray Beach and began working as a consultant to a courier service.

Michael saw great potential for this type of business and pursued the idea of starting his own courier service. With his business idea just beginning to solidify, Michael went to South Palm Beach SCORE and met with SCORE Business Mentor Leon Leidner.

In 1997, Michael bought a Pompano Beach courier service and changed the name to Road Runner Courier. In the two years since he founded the business, sales have tripled. Almost immediately, Michael began searching for similar companies to buy in south Florida. His plan was to consolidate the courier services under one company to make Road Runner the biggest and best courier services in southern Florida. In May 1999, Michael closed a deal to buy his second courier business, Boca Express.

Michael runs the business by using independent contractors as drivers. He has daily scheduled routes and receives same-day call-ins, as well. His regular delivery runs include worker's compensation checks for the Florida state government and credit slips for American Express.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Leon advised Michael to be cautious in the start-up of his businesses and to avoid future problems by obtaining the proper insurance and developing a system to monitor his billing. "My biggest problem," admits Michael, "was having to make all of the decisions by myself." Accustomed to a large corporation, Michael was always able to call a specific department for almost anything. "All of the sudden, there were no departments, no one to take care of human resources, finances, sales and administration except me."

Michael considers Leon his business consultant and continues to meet with him regularly. Road Runner Courier has tripled its sales and acquired a second company in just two years. In the next few years, Moyer expects his business to grow dramatically to a million-dollar business. Nothing can stop the Road Runner!

How SCORE Helped

Michael says, “SCORE helped me to see the generalities of business that I had never looked at – especially cash flow, advertising and leasing. In a large company, there was always someone to handle those things. SCORE helped me to wear all of those hats myself.”

Use this template when creating a contract concerning your books and business records.

Use this template as a bi-weekly timesheet for your business.

Why No. 1? A Community Partnership.

SCORE East Central Iowa was named the #1 SCORE chapter in America in 2010/2011. This from a group of ~400 other U.S. cities and towns. Here is a 3 minute video celebrating why, who and how.


See video
SCORE East Central Iowa

Resources for Small Business

Guide to doing Business in Maine
Business Answers 1-800-872-3838

Answers to tax questions
Tax Questions 1-800-829-1040

Small Business Development Center at USM 207-78-4949

Tel-Law (a service of the Maine State Bar Assoc) 207-622-1470
Tel- Law - Prerecorded answers

Maine bar Assistance

RESOURCE HUB 207-756-8180
Business Resource Center, Portland
Community Development Resource

Resources for Maine companies seeking international markets
Maine International Trade Center

Counselors to America’s Small Business 207-772-1147
SCORE Portland Maine

CEI (Coastal Enterprise Inc.) 207-772-5556
Portland Maine

SBA 207-592-5322
Small Business Association – Portland

This is a template for a projected balance sheet.

SCORE East Central Iowa - No. 1 in America

Thu, 2011-05-19 16:20

MAY 19, 2011

For Additional Information Contact:

Gregory (Greg) Tomsic, Chairman, 319-329-8431
SCORE East Central Iowa (Benton, Cedar, Jones, Linn)

Olympus Technical Services Succeeds By Using Advice From SCORE Mentor

Curt Serviss was a principal and manager of the Helena branch of Olympus Environmental Inc., a Washington state-based environmental engineering consulting firm. But in 1998, Serviss and fellow principals Alan Stine and Michael Backe had to make some hard decisions. They sensed that the Olympus Environmental owner would soon shift his focus to markets closer to the company's western Washington headquarters, a move that would likely result in staff cuts in the less-visible branches. Rather than see a lot of good people lose their jobs, Curt, Alan and Michael decided to buy Olympus Environmental’s three Montana and Idaho offices and create a new company: Olympus Technical Services Inc.

Curt Serviss, Alan Stine and Michael Backe
My Location
Helena MT
United States
Year Company Formed
My Successes

"As principles and branch managers, we were familiar with how the offices operated," Curt explains. "It was the nitty-gritty of putting a company together that was new to us. We needed help with accounting, financing, legal issues, and insurance. We also wanted to establish an employee-ownership incentive program that would reward people who contributed to the company's growth."

The engineers discovered that it would take a host of consultants to provide all the business start-up skills and services they needed. But one resource stood out from the rest—SCORE. "We didn't want to deal with five or six different specialists," Curt says. "SCORE was the most comprehensive resource available. The more we learned about them, the more we felt they were the resource we were looking for."

As their business plan neared completion the prospective owners selected five financial institutions to work with. "Nobody turned us down," Curt says proudly. "Everybody complemented us on the plan's thoroughness and conservative projections. As a result, we were able to secure a very competitive operations funding package."

The purchase became official on January 1, 1999. Today, Olympus Technical Services provides a wide range of environmental design, remediation and response services to the Rocky Mountain area. The company's first 12 months exceeded even the most optimistic expectations with sales topping $1.7 million. Olympus Technical Services also recently implemented its employee stock ownership program, giving each of the 16 full-time employees a stake in the company's success and future.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Curt found the ideal mentor in Bob Russell, whose background in corporate finance and operations included experience on Wall Street and the management of several small businesses. With the help of Charles "Chick" Rollings, chairman of SCORE's Helena chapter, Russell helped Curt, Alan and Michael critique their acquisition and management strategy.

"Bob pulled no punches," Curt says of Bob, who provided "thought-provoking discussion" on financing, credit, purchase price/asset allocation, ownership/management issues, capital structure, employee ownership, and employee incentives. Russell and Rollings also reviewed the overall business plan and provided valuable input on the cash flow analysis, profit and loss statement, and balance sheet.

"Working with SCORE was a great decision," Curt says. "We bounced a lot of ideas off Bob and Chick, and received lots of good advice in return. We would not be where we are today without the support and guidance provided by SCORE."

How SCORE Helped

Curt says, “The advantage of SCORE is that it is a single entity that can draw on a lot of resources. Bob Russell could get input on any aspect of business that we needed. Having a single point of contact was a tremendous advantage because we had to take care of our ongoing management responsibilities while working on the purchase plans.”

SCORE Mentors The Secret Chocolatier to Success

Andy and Robin Ciordia and Bill and Karen Dietz started test marketing the sale of chocolate and orange chocolate truffles at farmer's markets with good success in 2008 and 2009. With the families expertise they quickly expanded into more product lines that were also tested at regional markets. Along with this success game growing pains.  And that's when the family looked to SCORE for assistance. http://www.thesecretchocolatier.com/

Andy & Robin Ciordia and Bill & Karen Dietz
My Location
Charlotte NC
United States
My Successes

After nearly three years developing a following for its artisan chocolate confections at local farmers markets and retailers, The Secret Chocolatier, secured financing of an expansion loan and opened its first retail chocolate shop at Providence Plaza in Charlotte, NC.

What's Great About My Mentor?

When Andy came to see Charlotte SCORE mentor Chuck Sawicki in April 2010, he produced a well thought out business plan. Chuck also included Andy in communications with other compatible service sectors of the area.  In addition, Charlotte SCORE Food Service Business Mentor and retired College Professor Allen Friedman reviewed the business plan and provided his expertise. He has also been invited to other functions in Charlotte to help network his growing business.

How SCORE Helped

Andy says, "You helped me project a longer 5 year frame than the one year plan I had. You also helped me consider longer term thoughts on taking our business to much larger levels than I had envisioned. I look forward to coming back to you one day and making those thoughts a reality."

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