Entrepreneurial Success Stories
Faery's Golf & Landscape: Ransomville, NY
In the fall of 2014 Tony Grenzy wanted to purchase Faery's Golf & Landscape, a business that had employed him for the last ten years. He worked with the Niagara SBDC to help make the purchase possible. Dinene Zaleski, SBDC Certified Business Advisor, assisted Tony with his funding package. This included hours spent developing the narrative, exploring market opportunities, and analyzing the financial feasibility of the project. The comprehensive loan package included multiple funding partners.
Tony has grown Faery's Golf & Landscape into a full service golf course renovation contractor. He has an extensive client list that includes regional courses as well as those across New York State and beyond. Services focus on renovation and construction of all golf course features including tee construction, leveling, bunker renovation and construction, irrigation installation and retrofitting, drainage systems, and much more. The company uses specialty equipment which means little or no disruption to play and as little damage as possible done to golf course. Tony retained 12 employees at the time of purchase, added 3 soon after, and will add 1 to 2 more in 2016. He is excited about his business’ future. When asked about SBDC services, Tony stated: “Dinene was a pleasure to work with. Without her we would not be to the point we are at now.”
Giuseppina Kenyon Savard D.O. PC, 7350 Porter Rd, Niagara Falls, NY 14304
Dr. Savard is the President of a family practice medical office founded in 2012. She currently has 4 employees. The practice achieved a Level 3 designation for Patient-Centered Medical Home in late 2013 just 18 months after the company first opened. Dr. Savard was recently recognized for her excellent care and expanding practice by the Niagara Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the SBA-Buffalo District Luncheon in May of 2014.
Dr. Kenyon Savard has been driven to be an ethical, high quality health care professional for as long as she can remember. She began to fulfill her lifelong dream at Wheatfield Family Medicine as an employee. It was here, that Dr. Kenyon Savard began to establish her brand as a physician with a personal touch, able to relate to her patients and help them truly understand their course of treatment – not treating patients as a set of numbers on a chart. After a rewarding three years in practice, Dr. Kenyon Savard was provided with an opportunity to expand her talents by joining Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and their Osteopathic Residency program. She brought with her over one thousand patients and a desire to help the next generations of osteopathic physicians to develop their skills. However it became clear to Dr. Kenyon Savard after eight months that her passion remained in a private practice setting. By opening up her own practice Dr. Kenyon Savard was able to fully engage her patients in an environment centered around preventative health care, reaching them both in the office and remotely through technology to promote healthy living in all aspects of one's life.
When Dr. Savard and her husband Adam first decided to open their own business they reached out to the SBDC with ideas and excitement but wanted to make sure they were on the right track. Here is what they said about their experience opening the practice.
"Partnering with Maureen Henderson, SBDC Certified Business Advisor not only confirmed that we were doing the right thing for ourselves and our family, but also gave us the guidance and experience that provided an important edge before approaching a bank or opened our doors."
"Maureen worked with us by phone and email, reviewing and guiding our business plan with nuance and expertise that helped to set us apart from other start-ups in our field. Through our discussions with Maureen we went from feeling we were doing the right thing to knowing we had done it. The details of getting a business off the ground are where the lines of success or failure are drawn, and we are much better off for working with Maureen and the vast expertise she brings to the planning process.
"If you are starting a business, regardless of industry or your tenure in it, you would greatly benefit from partnering with the SBDC and Maureen. Don't make starting a business harder than it needs to be. Have an advocate in your corner, and we would strongly recommend Maureen be your advocate."
Dr Giuseppina Kenyon Savard
Sweet Angels Daycare & Preschool, Owner Kelly Doel
At Sweet Angels the goal is clear, to offer a "Fun Learning Experience" for children of all ages, aiding in the foundation of social and academic success
As a new mom in the late nineties, Kelly Doel was working as a supervising nurse coordinator in an assisted living home. She found herself unable to put her son to bed at night because of the hours worked and quickly learned this was not the profession for her. So in 1999 Kelly started a Family Day Care in her home; she could care for her son and work in a field that was more than rewarding. Every night when she would put her son to bed she would say, "Good Night, Sweet Angel." So when deciding to open a day care it only seemed appropriate to call it Sweet Angels.
It wasn’t long before Kelly expanded her family daycare into a group family daycare licensed through New York State. In 2003 Kelly decided it was time to expand and open Sweet Angels Daycare, Inc. on Dysinger Road in Lockport. Due to the center’s continued growth, in 2010 Sweet Angels Daycare rented additional space and expanded to expand their capacity. With quality childcare in our communities in high demand a second Sweet Angels location was opened on Erie Avenue in North Tonawanda in September 2011. Sweet Angels includes age appropriate programs to aide in children’s growth and development; programs include Sign Language, Spanish, Nutrition and Fitness, Martial Arts and Gymnastics. Both centers offer quality childcare and education to families in the community and provide quality care in a safe, loving environment for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years.
The environment at Sweet Angels is hands-on, educational, and of course, FUN. Kelly continues to keep her LPN license current, another service offered to families. Having an on call nurse during business hours has been an asset to the facility. Parents have often been pleased and impressed as this service provides them with an increased sense of security.
Sweet Angels developed a training program for local centers providing the necessary training to ensure both New York State standards and the needs of children are met. Kelly works with organizations in Niagara County including: Child Advocacy Center of Niagara, Niagara University, Niagara Cerebral Palsy, Niagara County Health Department, WNY Epilepsy Association, Rapids Volunteer Fire Department of Lockport, St. Jude, United Way, and Cornell Cooperative Extension.
The Niagara County Community College Small Business Development Center had the pleasure of working with Kelly Doel and Sweet Angels as she opened her second location in N. Tonawanda. The Niagara SBDC was pleased to name Kelly Doel and Sweet Angels as the NCCC Apex award winner of 2014. Each Year the Niagara SBDC presents the Apex Award to one of our clients that we feel defines success. This isn’t just based on revenue growth but on how the business treats its customers and employees and how it supports its community. Kelly Doel truly cares about her community and its children.
Woodcock Brothers Brewing Company, Wilson, NY
Niagara Wine Country visitors and winery staff had been asking for a brewery in the area for years and with the opening of Woodcock Brothers Brewing Company, the only brewery in Niagara County, they finally got one.
One crazy idea, two brothers and their wives, one old cold storage building in a historic town and a lot of good beer; this pretty much sums up Mark Woodcock and his wife Andrea along with Mark’s brother Tim and his wife, Debbie who together opened Woodcock Brothers Brewing Company (WBBC) in November 2012.
WBBC, which took two years to complete, opened in a reclaimed, century-old Cold Storage facility in the heart of Wilson’s lakeside community. Small touches like door frames, walls, and other items taken from the original building reflect the building's history as an apple storage facility and give the place a homey feel and show off Mark and Tim Woodcock's flair for stylish construction.
Dinene Zaleski, SBDC Business Advisor, assisted the Woodcocks in developing a business plan. The process included numerous meetings and revisions to the business plan and projections. The owners reworked the original project after the company’s initial loan request was declined by several banks. They did not give up and their final version of the project included a significant investment by the owners, bank financing, and a loan from a local public funding source. Twenty jobs were created.
Woodcock Brothers Brewing Company offers a great lineup of original craft beers along with Niagara County wines; the beautiful full-service restaurant features a wood-fired menu and a hip seating area with a view Niagara County’s first brewing facilities. In addition to selling beer on-site the company supplies other local bars and restaurants.
“This is very, very exciting,” said Wilson Town Supervisor Joseph A. Jastrzemski. “They have done a tremendous amount of work, and it looks incredible. It will be a point of destination. People will enjoy an afternoon ride to Wilson and enjoy the brewery. My hat is off to Deb and Tim and Mark and Andrea.”
Likewise, the Village of Wilson’s acting mayor, Bernard J. Leiker Jr., said, “The village is so excited about this. This will have a real economic impact on not only the village and town, but on Niagara County, as well, because it’s the first brewery in the county.”
This business has also been a great addition to the rapidly growing Niagara Wine Trail. It also draws boaters from across the region and the county because of its close proximity to Wilson Harbor. It is an important addition to the community.
Council Opticians of Hamburg
Niagara SBDC client Dr. J Todd Demario OD and his partner own two Council Opticians, one in Hamburg and the other in East Aurora, NY. Council Opticians of Hamburg has been at its current location for almost twenty years. With continued growth and customer loyalty, the current location's size was restraining potential growth. Dr. Todd felt that moving to a free standing, self owned property would add increased visibility. He also wanted to enjoy the property management freedom that comes with being a building owner and not a tenant. One of the location requirements was to not move far from his current location. After an extensive search a suitable property was found and a business loan was needed to purchase the land and building and to renovate it into a modern optometric facility.
Dr. Todd enlisted the aid of the Small Business Development Center by talking to one of his patients; Certified Business Advisor, Jack Dezik. One of Dr. Todd's main concerns was that his customers may not be willing to follow him. Jack enlisted the help of the SBDC Research Network, which found several articles about relocating a business and still maintaining your customers. Fortunately, the new location was across the street from his current location, in an old oil change facility. Jack advised Dr. Todd to have an inspector look at the building for any possible environmental problems. Dr. Todd also needed help completing a loan package. Jack worked on the project putting in over thirty hours over eight months to help the client thoroughly vet the project, determine its feasibility, and get the loan package ready for the Loan Committee at Mr. Todd's bank. The bank did a phase one environmental study and offered financing. Dr. Todd put in significant owner equity. The project totaled over half a million dollars and rehabilitated a vacant property.
Dr. Todd not only put in his own money but a lot of sweat equity. He did the painting and used over 60 gallons of paint. He finally moved in early spring 2013. Dr. Todd said, "The Small Business Development Center really helped me with my Business Plan. Jack pointed out things that I did not think about at first".
As always, the counseling services of the Niagara SBDC are provided at no charge and are completely confidential. We thank Dr. Todd for utilizing our services, for investing in our community, and for allowing us to tell his story.
Academy of Theatre Arts
Dina Sarno Slawson has been creating, writing, directing, performing, and producing theatre for children and young adults for many years. In 2002, she created Academy of Theatre Arts, a part-time theatre school with 9 classes a week in a small one room studio. Since then, she has built a year-round theatre academy specializing in acting, musical theatre dance and vocal performance classes.
In 2006, the ATA Theatre opened as the only theatre venue in WNY devoted solely to performers between the ages of 5 and 18. The 132 seat state of the art theatre is home to Academy Encore Ensemble, ATA’s young resident theatre company of high school students from the WNY area and the Academy Performance Group, an audition only performance group for ages 10 & up.
Academy of Theatre Arts and the ATA Theatre is the only FULL TIME YEAR ROUND theatre venue in Western New York created and designed solely for the development and training of children and young adults in the genres of acting, vocal performance and musical theatre dance. Dedicated to enriching young lives dramatically, ATA provides an extensive year-long program for anyone who has an interest and passion for theatre arts.
Not only does Academy of Theatre Arts excel in theatrical training, but with a generation now losing those communication skills needed to succeed in life, ATA uses theatre as a platform to teach and promote excellence in public speaking, self esteem, confidence and personal skills.