Manufacturing & Mining

Vertigo, Inc. Reinvents Itself With the Help From SCORE

Vertigo, Inc. owners Glen Brown and Roy Haggard have transformed their small engineering company into a burgeoning manufacturing business with the help of Inland Empire SCORE Mentor Nary Kanoor.

Owner/Founder
Glen Brown and Roy Haggard
My Location
Lake Elsinore CA
United States
Year Company Formed
1986
My Successes

In 2003, Cal Tech grad and company founder Glen Brown turned to his business partner, designer and inventor, Roy Haggard, with a concept for developing some of the 16 patents and the vast array of intellectual property the two engineers had developed in their 17 years together.

Their small consulting and prototyping company, headquartered at Skylark Airport in Lake Elsinore, CA, was well know and highly respected around the world for its ability to solve seemingly intractable engineering problems – from capturing NASA’s Genesis spacecraft in mid-air after its fiery entry into the Earth’s atmosphere to building inflatable fabric “AirBeams” capable of supporting a 150-foot-long portable aircraft hangar.

Glen’s concept was to license their GPS guidance-and-control technology to a company that would build, market and sell the world’s first affordable autopilot for military cargo parachutes. No sooner was the ink dry on Vertigo’s first corporate joint venture than they won the largest contract in their history to design and build 55 AirBeam aircraft maintenance hangars for the U.S. Air Force.

Suddenly, these two talented engineers were faced with the prospect of their friendly little engineering firm doubling in size every three to four years and changing overnight from a rapid-prototyping house to a full-fledged production facility. They called SCORE for help.

Just 12 months after that first call to SCORE, Vertigo completely reconfigured its corporate structure, hiring a new general manager and adding a number of outside directors to its board. They are getting ready to set up a dedicated factory for the manufacture of their patented AirBeams, and the company now has the strategic plan in place that will allow it to manage the kind of sustained growth that Glen and Roy could only have dreamed of 20 years ago.

These changes have had the added benefit of allowing Vertigo’s talented owners to step away from the day-to-day management of their company and get back to doing the things that led to their initial success – solving challenging technical problems that add value to what is now a rapidly growing product base.

Owner Glen Brown says, “Here we were, thinking we were dealing with the kind of corporate challenges that no one could understand. In comes Nary and within a couple of hours it’s as if he’s known Roy and me all our lives.”

Glen adds, “He certainly helped us see outside ourselves and look at our company with fresh eyes. We’re very appreciative of Nary’s advice and counsel, and we are certain that we wouldn’t have reinvented ourselves so quickly, if at all, without his involvement.”

What's Great About My Mentor?

In March 2005, seeking practical advice from someone who had “been there and done that,” Glen and Roy turned to their local SCORE chapter. They found Nary Kanoor, a retired software executive who had piloted several companies through the difficult waters of transitioning from a small founder/owner-managed company. Nary proposed a five-phase plan, starting with the most basic of activities–developing corporate mission and vision statements for this company in transition.

How SCORE Helped

Glen says, “We’re very appreciative of SCORE Mentor Nary Kanoor’s advice and counsel, and we are certain that we wouldn’t have reinvented ourselves so quickly, if at all, without his involvement.”

Semiconductor Circuits

Teddi Ritchie liked her job and she liked the company she worked for. She never dreamed that one day she would own it. But when the owners of Semiconductor Circuits Inc. (SCI) planned to close down the electronics manufacturing plant where she had worked for 21 years, Teddi set out to do just that. "I had two choices," she recalls. "I could either look for gainful employment elsewhere, or go through the system and try to buy the company. We had good people, good products, and our customers liked us. If there was ever a place worth saving, this was it."

Owner/Founder
Teddi Ritchie
My Location
Windham NH
United States
Employees
25
Year Company Formed
1998
My Successes

Making the leap from materials manager to business owner would not be easy. Teddi's experience was in purchasing, not finance, and preparing a business plan for such a huge purchase would require extensive information and up-front analysis. However, Teddi knew her company well. Although she would have to keep her plans confidential, she was eager to give it a try. But time was of the essence. SCI's current owners couldn't wait forever, and Teddi still had her "day job" to think about.

For several weeks, Teddi worked well into the wee hours of the morning developing the business plan that would ultimately save SCI. The formidable task became increasingly frustrating because many of her resources didn't always provide the right answers. About three-quarters of the way through, Teddi realized that she needed to talk to somebody. The question was: who? That’s when Teddi reached out to SCORE.

The first bank Teddi approached was intrigued by her plan, but suggested that she explore getting assistance from the state. Teddi eventually received a bank loan and state-backed financing from a local economic development authority. The deal was closed on a Friday in December 1998. The following Monday, Teddi walked into Semiconductor Circuits as the new owner and CEO.

Teddi's first steps were to make some long-overdue policy changes. She implemented flexible work schedules and production incentive programs, and encouraged more employee involvement in setting operations and management goals. These and other moves resulted in a more engaged workforce and a healthier balance sheet. SCI was projected to make $2.5 million during Ritchie's first year of ownership. After the first nine months, the company was on track to earn $4.2 million, with the promise of even better times to come. Semiconductor Circuits also added five new employees to its payroll in the month's following Ritchie's purchase.

"We're achieving these wonderful results because we're focusing on the business," Teddi explains. "The previous owner had pretty much given up on us because we amounted to only 1 percent of a billion-dollar company. By being more flexible, our employees are motivated to do their best work, which allows us to produce a better product. Now, our old owners are one of our customers."

What's Great About My Mentor?

While scanning the Internet for help, Teddi discovered the U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) Web site, which in turn led her to SCORE's homepage. She contacted the local chapter and within a few days received a call from Shep Bartlett, a former owner of a furniture business. Shep met Teddi at the local library and reviewed the still-evolving business plan. "Shep was just the person I'd been looking for," Teddi says. "He understood my objectives and answered all my questions, making sure I understood each topic before we moved on to the next area. With his help, I was ready to present my business plan to the banks."

Teddi doesn't plan to rest on her laurels. She still meets regularly with Shep to discuss business opportunities and ways to keep SCI growing. "He's a great advisor and a wonderful person," she says.

How SCORE Helped

“I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life asking ‘what if.’ I believed in myself and in the ability of my fellow employees to make this dream succeed. But I couldn’t have done it without the help of Shep Bartlett and SCORE.” says Teddi Richie.

All entrepreneurs should write a business plan, but if you are trying to raise investment
capital, a written plan that conveys your vision to potential investors is a must.

The truth is that many successful businesses were started without business plans. While that may be fine for the likes of a few people, it’s generally not a good idea. If you're going to start a business, the smartest approach is to write a business plan.

The Business Plan

A business plan provides you with a comprehensive, detailed overview of all the aspects of your business. This overview is the skeleton of your business—the underlying structure that provides the basis of your entire operation. Prepared in advance, a business plan allows you to review the pros and cons of your proposed business before you make a financial and emotional commitment to it.

There are three reasons to create a written business plan:

Please go to our Official Silicon Valley SCORE website at www.svscore.org

 

This spreadsheet walks you through the process of developing an integrated set of financial projections.
 

 

This spreadsheet walks you through the process of developing an integrated set of financial projections.
 

The business plan consists of a narrative and several financial worksheets. The narrative template is the body of the business plan. It contains more than 150 questions divided into several sections. Work through the sections in any order that you like, except for the Executive Summary, which should be done last. Skip any questions that do not apply to your type of business. When you are finished writing your first draft, you’ll have a collection of small essays on the various topics of the business plan. Then you’ll want to edit them into a smooth-flowing narrative.

 

“Ultimate Business Planner” is a Windows based software tool that significantly eases the burden of writing a formal business plan. It guides you through each business-planning step quickly and easily.

Ultimate Business Planner® 5.0

For Windows 98/2000/NT/XP/Vista/7

Business Survival

Business Survival

 

Self-Assessment

Ask yourself:

1.      How does cash flow into and out of my company throughout the year?

2.      Are we able to meet our current financial obligations and goals, and can we accommodate future changes without exceeding our budget?

3.      With a reasonable degree of accuracy, what will our funds balance be at the end of this month? Mid-way through the fiscal year? At the end of the year?

4.      What is our "cash plan" for the coming month, quarter or year?

 

 Self-Assessment

Ask yourself:

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Syndicate content