Client success stories - videos
Client success stories
Tania Arvizu was born in Oaxaca Mexico and lived with her parents, one brother and 4 sisters. Her family immigrated to Seaside, CA in 2000. At that time, Ms. Arvizu was only 14 years old and spoke no English. With a desire and persistence to learn, Tania graduated from Seaside High School and was honored for her outstanding leadership in the Hispanic community.
Tania graduated in 2005 from Heald College of Business, majoring in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting. Shortly thereafter, she married, leased an office and opened her first business in accounting and bookkeeping in downtown Salinas, CA. But like many businesses, she struggled to get clients her first year, and closed the business in 2006 to do accounting for a property management company in Monterey. She learned many new aspects of conducting business, which enabled her to seek and attain her next job in San Juan Bautista doing accounting and payroll for an organic farming operation. For the next seven years, Tania found her passion in the organic agriculture business and experienced the benefits of quality management and business ownership.
In 2012, being ever persistent and wanting to exercise her entrepreneurial spirit, Tania reopened her accounting and bookkeeping business in Salinas by working mornings for her employer and afternoons in her own business.
Later in 2013, Tania moved into her own business full time - offering professional services in payroll, tax filing, bookkeeping, financial consulting, corporation and LLC filing, while also providing notary public services.
With assistance from the CSU Monterey Bay Small Business Development Center, Tania was able to grow her business revenues to more than eight times her first year revenue by the end of her second year in business. A&T Tax Notary and Bookkeeping is continuing to grow.
Tania attributes her continuing success to a lifelong desire to learn, an unwavering persistence, being humble, being totally honest and respecting all people. Tania volunteers with the Table and Kitchen Advisors in San Francisco offering free financial assistance to organic farmers, and she is currently working on becoming an Enrolled Agent for the IRS to better serve her clients.
Ever since Jon Brandt retired from the Marine Corps, he has dreamed about owning his own business. He also wanted to do something that would help the community in his home county of Monterey. He understood the need to undertake market research to find just the right opportunity. Jon’s research showed a number of interesting demographic and social trends in the US: aging population; rapidly increasing cost of institutional care for seniors; senior citizens are living longer; and an economy where children of seniors were busy working and had less time available to care for elderly parents.
Jon identified the “elder in-home care” industry as a great business opportunity, and one that would meet all of his objectives. In this innovative approach, the elder citizen is able to remain in their own home, with part time or full time home care companions to assist with cooking, light housekeeping, monitoring, physical mobility assistance, etc. This approach is generally a fraction of the cost of an institutional care facility. After researching the options to enter this business, Jon decided to purchase an elder home care franchise for Monterey County from “Always Best Care” In-Home Senior Care Services. The CSUMB Small Business Development Center and business advisor, Michael Adams assisted Jon in his market research, competitive analysis, franchise negotiating strategies, business planning, staffing, and strategic marketing, including Internet marketing.
Jon was able to finance the initial phase of his business from personal savings. He has now begun hiring and training staff, and with the support of the franchisor, is building a network of referral partners throughout the County. His plan is to quickly grow the business to a level of 50 employees within three years, which would be a major success story for the local economy.
Jon has realized his dream of both owning his own business and helping to give back to his community; and Monterey County is the better for it! We wish Jon enormous success in this new venture.
Shawn Bakker first approached the CSUMB Small Business Development Center in February of 2010 to get assistance in recovering from the downturn his company had taken during the recession. Like many construction companies, he was struggling with the severe slowdown of new home construction. Mr. Bakker had just received a $20,000 line of credit and wanted SBDC assistance to increase sales and profits by bidding on higher value projects. In addition, he wanted to develop a talented team of employees to facilitate growth. “I want to stop reacting to the economy, I want to be proactive!” Mr. Bakker said at the time.
CSUMB SBDC’s Keith Holtaway assisted Mr. Bakker with developing strategies and refining tactics to take a conservative yet successful approach at building the businesses. By September of 2010, the employer had hired eight new employees and increased sales by over $823,500. Bakker Construction Company has been focusing on a successful targeted approach within the redevelopment arena.
Drool Monkey Organics is a new business that evolved from a young mother’s concern over the reported possibility of toxic chemical residues in infants’ teething "blankies", bed linens, clothing, toys, etc. Kamala (Kam) Corkin, the founder of Drool Monkey Organics, began researching this subject in more detail, and the statistics alarmed her. Kam tried to find organic substitutes for these products, but with very little success. Thus was born the idea for launching her business, Drool Monkey Organics, to satisfy this consumer need. Her first product is a miniature teething "blankie”, which she calls “lovies”, with an image of a monkey’s face stitched into the product.
SBDC advisor, Michael Adams, helped Kam build her business plan and prepare her SBA guaranteed loan application package. Another SBDC advisor helped with refining the financial forecast. Because the product was a new technology, the lender needed strong market research. The National SBDCnet Research Clearinghouse provided the necessary industry perspective and in-depth research to satisfy the lender’s questions. The Drool Monkey Organics Business plan was completed, which the lending bank described as the “best business plan that we have ever received!” Cal Coastal approved an SBA-guaranteed micro loan for $25K, and were so impressed with Kam’s concept and potential, that they pre-approved an additional $25K whenever needed in the future.
Two new jobs were created: President and Operations Manager. Kam successfully launched a high quality website, as well as Facebook and Twitter sites. Kam placed a very effective article in “Baby Shop Magazine”. Initial sales will commence this summer and we proudly look forward to a very successful new small business in Monterey County.
Antonio Hernandez first heard about the Small Business Development Center(SBDC) when he participated in the “At Your Service” survey in conducted by the SBDC during the summer of 2012 in San Benito County. In January 2013 Hernandez contacted consultant Arturo Contreras and explained that his lease was about to expire and that he would like to move his Mexican restaurant to a larger location. Hernandez wanted his new restaurant to have a relaxed atmosphere to encourage guests to enjoy their meal, as opposed to his current restaurants where guests would order take out due to the limited amount of seating.
Hernandez and Contreras came up with a plan to make the transition go as smoothly as possible. Hernandez remembered many of the mistakes he made when he started his first business and made sure to not repeat them the second time. Hernandez closed his restaurant in February 2013 and after investing $80,000 in the new restaurant he opened El Epazote on April 9, 2013. The restaurant is located in a warm cabin style building and Hernandez has plans to build an outdoor patio area so guests can enjoy their meals while enjoying the warm California climate.
Dr. Eric Garcia decided to open a chiropractic clinic in 2008, located in the heart of the East Alisal business district. Since 2008 Dr. Garcia has built up a healthy clientele.
Dr. Garcia’s lease was set to expire in March 31, 2012. Due to high rent payments Dr. Garcia decided he would purchase the building. He worked with a national bank to acquire a loan but was unable to obtain. This was due to the lack of a business plan and proper financial projections. Outreach advisor Roberto Garcia spoke to Dr. Garcia to let him know about the CSUMB Small Business Development Center services.
Consultant Arturo Contreras worked with Dr. Garcia and Office Manager Felisa Alarcon. Together they created a proper business plan and three year pro forma statements.
The $350,000 loan package was submitted to Monterey County bank and was quickly approved. By obtaining the loan, Dr. Garcia was able to convert his $3,700 monthly rent expense to a $2,300 mortgage expense, thus improving his monthly cash flow by $1,400.
Erika’s Giant Artichoke Restaurant is located in Castroville CA, the ‘Artichoke Center of the World’. The Restaurant requested assistance from the CSUMB SBDC because of a decline in sales and they were at risk of laying off employees. The Giant Artichoke Restaurant requested assistance from the CSUMB SBDC to help the business with marketing advice in order to attract more customers.
The CSUMB SBDC Business Consultant, Tom Bruce worked with the Restaurant’s owners to evaluate the menu offerings, redesign the menu to capitalize on its location in the “Artichoke Center of the World.” Tom assisted in redesigning the menu telling more of the local history and culture of the Artichoke as well as displaying menu selections that emphasized the Artichoke creatively in new tantalizing recipes.
As a result from the CSUMB SBDC services, 2 jobs were retained, 3 new jobs were created, sales have increased and the business is attracting new customers. The Restaurant owner reported in August 2011 that they had experienced the best July sales volume ever! This was actually the best July in four years, a fantastic accomplishment!
Yeo Kim moved to California 15 years ago, promptly after arriving she opened up Jalisco Market in the City of Gonzales. The store has been successful and offers traditional Hispanic products, fruits and vegetables to its customers. Due to the store’s success Mrs. Kim has been able to acquire additional commercial properties; She opened Best Market in 2005, and leases a commercial building.
In March 2013 Mrs. Kim approached the CSUMB-SBDC for assistance applying for City of Gonzales Community Development Block Grant loan. Consultant Arturo Contreras met with her and walked her through the process of writing a Business Plan, developing pro forma projections, and assembling the loan package. The $105,000 loan will be used to purchase new equipment, and to install solar panels on her building. After submitting the loan, it was quickly approved. Mrs. Kim is now looking for a contractor to start the installation.
JLJ Architectural Art Furnishings, Inc. is a pre-cast stone manufacturer in the Salinas Valley. The owner, Lucy, has been designing and working on stone pre-casts molds and concrete for over 15 years. Lucy has spent many years creating custom molds and pre-cast items and has an extensive inventory of fireplace mantles, columns, staircase banisters, fountains, and much more.
With the advice of the SBDC advisor, Bryan Ellis, Lucy has hired not one but two new employees to work on the manufacturing side of the business. With the help of the Small Business Development Center, Lucy is looking to have a grand opening of her business as soon as September of this year. Lucy will also need to hire at least one more full time production employee and one employee to work in the store. Lucy is very excited to start providing top quality custom pre-cast products in various markets. We wish her the best of luck with future operations and hope that she prospers and grows.
The Harveys have had a dream for several years to open a Bed & Breakfast business in Hollister, CA. Tricia, an artist, and Greg, a financial advisor, work mostly from home and also have a son in the hospitality business, so it seemed like a perfect idea. It took a few years of research, planning and finding the ideal house for the project. The CSUMB SBDC helped advise the Harvey’s on their business plan, obtained research on current market trends (from the SBDCnet Research Center), operations, investment/return analysis, and partnership strategies with the local businesses that depend on tourism, such as the San Benito Wine Trail.
The Joshua Inn was born this summer when everything came together beautifully for the Harvey’s. They found a wonderful seven-bedroom Victorian house for sale; however they needed to sell their current home to finance the purchase. They were discouraged because the seller did not want any contingencies in the purchase offer. At the eleventh hour, a couple they knew approached the Harveys to see if they would rent their current home to them. They then obtained a mortgage loan, their purchase offer was accepted by the seller, and in that same week another local resident approached them wanting to invest in the new B&B business! The B&B building needs a significant amount of renovation, and this was another financial challenge, i.e. getting a revenue stream going, during the renovation period. They solved this challenge by identifying two long-term rooming tenants for two of the rooms. In the process, the Harveys have created three new jobs in Hollister.
During the renovation period, they will work on their website, marketing partnerships, reservation system, and preparing to welcome guests from around the world. The Joshua Inn is the first B&B to start-up in San Benito County, and the Harveys have already motivated some of their friends to think about opening B&Bs. They look forward to establishing a County B&B Association and helping to boost tourism for the region, as well as the corresponding economic benefit to the entire County. We applaud them!
Maria Jimenez grew up in Mexico helping her mom run a small business at a market. In Mexico, Maria ran a successful business for 15 yrs. When Maria moved to the U.S. she learned doing business here was harder than what she was used to. Having a passion for business in the food industry, Maria rented a space at a local market in Gonzales selling her fresh juices and shakes. Maria did well renting out a small space for a year but she was ready to take it to the next level. Maria decided to open up her very own business and decided to move to a bigger location at a Swap Meet in Gonzales. Maria obtained all her required permits and licensing and opened up Jugos y Licuados Sol. After a health inspection, Maria learned she had to make significant improvements in order to maintain her business running. The business location within the Swap Meet was not suited for a juice shop. Again, Maria moved to a bigger location and is renting her very own business.
With the assistance of CSUMB SBDC Business Advisor Arturo Contreras, Maria is in the process of applying for a loan. She is expanding the business and growing her menu items.
After the birth of Katie’s daughter, she focused on her family's health and was struck by the scarcity of convenient, organic, truly nourishing food. Months of research and hundreds of raw juice recipes later, her lingering health issues (and about fifty extra pounds) were gone and Katie became a passionate advocate for fresh, cold-pressed green juice. Raw juice was the fuel that helped her transition away from a chemical and sugar-loaded diet, and Katie quickly learned that she was not alone. So, Katie Raquel, founder and owner of Katie’s Coldpress, started her certified organic cold pressed juice business in August 2014 after winning the CSUMB Startup Challenge.
Katie’s Coldpress has been certified organic and producing their juice at The El Pajaro Community Kitchen in Watsonville for over a year. Traveling to Watsonville from their Seaside homes three times a week to pick up fresh produce from local organic sources, they are able to make fresh batches for their customers, most of whom are regulars who order 3-11 bottles a week to flood their diets with nutrients. Once pressed and bottled, their juice is packed on ice and delivered to homes and offices from Marina to Carmel, or sold at the Old Monterey Marketplace on Tuesday's from their booth.
With the assistance of CSUMB SBDC, Katie has grown her customer base to over a thousand locals and visitors, generating first year revenues of $35,000 and continuing to achieve monthly profitability during most of 2015. She is currently looking for a storefront in Monterey to open the Monterey Peninsula's first certified organic juice bar.
Katie’s ultimate goal is to further support the health of the community by donating 10% of the profits from every bottle to a community non-profit. Additionally, she donates her organic veggie compost to The Monterey Green Action Community Garden.
“We pride ourselves on our creative, ever-evolving menu, personal service and customer support, and our commitment to customer safety,” says Katie, and “we believe that even small companies should dot every "i" and cross every "t" when it comes to consumer safety.”
Latte Café owned and operated by Steve Hauck, opened its doors on October 31, 2008, and has been serving Gonzales residents ever since. It is the premier coffee house in Gonzales proudly serving “Seattle’s Best” brand coffee. It also offers a variety of breakfast and lunch items, from bagels and croissants to 100% beef hotdogs and home-style sandwiches.
In 2010, it was time to expand and add yogurt machines. With the help of the CSUMB Small Business Development Center, Latte Café was able to secure a low interest loan from the City of Gonzales, and purchased the new machines.
Because of Steve’s hard work and community involvement, Latte Café was named the Gonzales Chamber of Commerce 2010 business of the year.
Rafael Rubio and Brenda Lemus opened Red Romance clothing store in Northridge Mall in 2010. The store catered to teen and young women. After 3 years Lemus decided to rebrand their store and expand their inventory to women of all ages.
Consultant Arturo Contreras helped Rubio and Lemus come up with a rebranding strategy. The total cost to remodel the store and purchase new inventory was $100,000. The project will be 100% owner financed. In May 2013 Rubio and Lemus filed their Articles of Organization, and officially closed down Red Romance. Construction started In June 2013 and Love Express is scheduled to open on July 22, 2013.
“SBDC counselor Keith Holtaway has been of instrumental importance to OfficeStar Training in stabilizing the business during uncertain times, and helping the company get back on a growth path. When I started working with Keith in December, 2010, I was in the process of downsizing the company. We had laid off 4 full-time employees and were left with only 5 full-time employees. We were considering shutting down our Santa Cruz office completely. Keith helped me develop a plan to deal with the changing environment, and met with me weekly to assist with execution to the plan. His business advice was also invaluable to me on a personal level, as it helped me re-focus on what needed to be done to save the company.
"Six months later, in June of 2011, we have stabilized the company (which saved the remaining 5 jobs) and were even able to re-hire two of those who had been laid off. We still have challenges, but are now working on the long-term health of the company by focusing on the marketing plan and diversifying revenue sources. We are creating a more profitable company that is delivering a higher level of service to our clients. I am very happy with the benefits I have received through my company’s use of the SBDC, and can attest that my company might not have survived without the assistance.” -Client Testimonial
The Pacheco Water Store is a family-owned retail store selling filtered water, blended ice coffee drinks, smoothies, fresh fruit waters, ice cream, fruit cups, and nachos. Business owner, David Pacheco worked with CSUMB SBDC Business Advisor, Arturo Contreras to prepare a loan application package in 2010. In 2012, Mr. Pacheco contacted the CSUMB SBDC for assistance with a second Small Business loan. David thought about making ice cream in house rather than purchasing it from an outside vendor. Mr. Pacheco consulted with Business Advisor, Arturo Contreras to be sure this investment would be feasible. After reviewing and updating a previous business plan, working on the business financial projections, they decided this would be a profitable investment.
Mr. Pacheco applied for a small business loan with the City of Gonzales to purchase the necessary equipment. The Pacheco Water Store received the loan for $12,600 and the equipment was purchased. With the new equipment, the Pacheco Water Store will be able to make fresh ice cream and natural fruit popsicles. The Pacheco Water Store is in the process of installing the machine in time for spring 2013. Mr. Pacheco has plans for expansion in the future.
Wanting to be a part of the solution in revitalizing downtown Hollister, Kathina Szeto requested assistance from the CSUMB Small Business Development Center on January 2011, in hopes of starting a business that showcased high quality local artisanal goods. CSUMB SBDC Business Consultant, Keith Holtaway began assisting Kathina by going through the process of obtaining the appropriate licensing and permits for her business. In addition, they focused on the marketing plan to include building awareness to help reinforce pride in the region and its bounty - as this was a unique business idea.
San Benito Bene, a locally inspired gift boutique features gift baskets that include a variety of award winning olive oils, gourmet chocolates, local raw honey, and bath & body care products. Customers are given a mini tour of the regional goods, which also encompasses local art works such as paintings, books, pottery and handcrafted cards. A Facebook page has been developed about Bene’s one-stop-shop for local creations concept and a website is currently under construction. This July, San Benito Bene celebrated their first year anniversary and they continue enjoying their growth.
Arthur Estrella, Owner of AE Transport first approached the CSUMB Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for assistance in the spring of 2013 when he was faced with CA Air Resources Board (CARB) mandates that would not allow him to drive his existing tractor after Jan. 1 of 2014. Mr. Estrella had just started work as an independent contractor, previously employed with a local trucking firm off and on for 5 years. He had filed his fictitious name and needed help with permitting and license requirements. Mr. Estrella wanted to purchase a new tractor and asked the SBDC to help him prepare financial projections, evaluate loan sources and assist him with applying for a loan.
CSUMB SBDC Director Andrea Nield met with Mr. Estrella to help him secure appropriate licensing, permits, evaluate projections and secure a loan to purchase a new tractor. “SBDC gave me some important information I needed to know to help me get this loan!” exclaimed Mr. Estrella.
As the trend towards sustainability progressed, Thomas "Tom" Piatkowski, President, CEO and Founder of HealthySoil, Inc., quickly realized that conventional producers lacked a viable way to participate in this trend – they didn’t have tools to transition their operations and overcome increasing industry pressures. Tom determined that the solution to meets these challenges centered on exploiting the natural relationships between soil and plants to increase resource efficiency (water, fertilizer, etc). In 2002, Tom started HealthySoil with partner and CFO Laura Kreitler to provide this solution.
In 2012, the SBDC assisted the company with hiring and enrolling in the Salinas Valley Enterprise Zone to take advantage of wage tax credits as well as tax credits on the sales and use tax from large equipment purchases. The client also enrolled in Bid Match via the SBDC. In 2013, the SBDC is also assisting with the development of a strategy to build the team, improve communications and efficiencies, evaluate target markets and marketing plan, secure California Employment Training Panel (ETP) funding for strategic planning, OSHA and ISO training.
Since beginning work with the CSUMB SBDC in April of 2011, the company has added four new jobs, new sales of $3,337,000, received $25,000 in wage tax credits in 2012 and an additional $25,000 in sales and use tax credits from equipment purchases. In addition, HealthySoil submitted a request letter to ETP via the Monterey County Workforce Investment Board. The County WIB was subsequently awarded $50,000 for local training support. HealthySoil is in the process of designing its training program and will likely use at least $5,000 of ETP funds towards to meet its training needs, possibly more.
Carla Carranza visited the Small Business Development Center in 2013 and requested assistance with starting-up her business in Salinas. Mrs. Carranza’s husband owned a floral business years ago which she helped run. A passion for the floral business continued to live in Mrs. Carranza’s heart so she decided to pursue starting a business. Eager to start her own floral shop, Mrs. Carranza reached out to the SBDC for guidance on how to start her business.
Rossana Giannini, SBDC Business Advisor, was able to guide Mrs. Carranza through the start-up process. Mrs. Giannini provided marketing advice and together, they developed a marketing campaign. Mrs. Carranza encountered some challenges as she is only Spanish speaking. With the recommendations from SBDC Business Advisor, Mrs. Carranza hired a bilingual employee.
Tropical Dreams began as a floral wholesale business operating from a storage place in Chualar. The business has now expanded to a mobile delivery business serving Monterey, Carmel, Seaside and Salinas. The marketing campaign is bringing great results and Tropical Dreams is growing into a successful business.
Tropical Dreams reported having profitable sales during 2014 Valentine’s Day!
Mr. Faramand has worked in the restaurant and catering business for over forty years. For the last twenty years, Mr Faramand has successfully owned Turf Club Catering serving the business, government agencies, and community families in Monterey County.
In 2012, Mr. Faramand encountered major health problems and fell far behind in his IRS tax payments as well as his business property mortgage. He was forced to declare bankruptcy and considered closing his business. As Mr. Faramand’s health improved, he committed to save the business and reached out to the SBDC for assistance.
Robert Kramer, an SBDC business advisor, met Mr. Faramand and they collaboratively worked on a plan to grow the business returning it to profitability. Mr. Faramand was strongly encouraged to seek the necessary cash infusion of $10,000 from his family to prevent a bank foreclosure on his business property. The cash infusion allowed Mr. Faramand to conduct negotiations with his bank and to ease his on-going debt service burden. Additionally, the cash infusion enabled Mr. Faramand to show “good faith” to the IRS thus permitting further negotiations for an acceptable payoff strategy.
With the assistance from Mr. Kramer, Mr. Faramand developed a realistic comprehensive 3-year vision for his business. He hired an expert in business technology who guided him through upgrading his office machines, website, internet capability and social media marketing. Further, Mr. Faramand hired a graphics firm to create new brochures, pictures for his website, menus and business cards.
In the short term, as a result of Mr. Faramand’s commitment and dedication to taking action to save his business, he experienced a 30% increase in monthly gross revenues and is focused on developing a lead generation system that will significantly increase catering sales in the long term.
Vanessa Ramirez is a young entrepreneur who recently graduated from CSU Monterey Bay. After graduating, Mrs. Ramirez was eager to take on the design world and utilize her new skills and knowledge as a graduate with a B.S. in Communication Design. Experiencing difficulty finding employment in her field, Mrs. Ramirez decided to start her own business to create her own work opportunity.
Mrs. Ramirez expressed “in my journey to create this business I fell into the hands of legal zoom to help guide me create this dream business of mine, but instead what I ended up with was the wrong corporation and they charged me $230 to create it”. As a victim of legal zoom, Mrs. Ramirez requested assistance from the SBDC.
Rossana Giannini, SBDC Business Advisor, advised her to change the legal status of the business in order to avoid paying $800/ year to the state of California. This is something the client was not ready for. With advice of Mrs. Giannini, the client was able to resolve the problem and get on the right track.
VDiz LLC has reported to have an increase in sales and has even hired an employee. The business is very successful and is growing into a strong photo, web, print, and design business. Mrs. Ramirez is working on a marketing campaign and development of a new photo booth, due to launch on April 2014!
Services of the SBDC are partially funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration; Cal State University at Monterey Bay and the University of California, Merced. SBDCs are supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration and extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis. Any opinions, findings, conclusions and recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance.