NJSBDC OF NORTHWEST JERSEY

Massage Heights of Morristown
David Shawger & Dale Carmody
40 West Park Place, Suite 7
Morristown, NJ 07960
Tel: 973-939-3999

Website: www.massageheights.com/locations/nj/morristown-nj

Dale Carmody and David Shawger contacted Northwest NJSBDC with an idea to start a business by combining their resources (dollars and know-how). The search began by identifying several franchise opportunities that would interest them and fit their business approach. They soon settled upon a day spa, and explored several franchise possibilities in detail before settling on Massage Heights as the optimal fit.

From the beginning, the business venture was unique in that it was entirely self-funded through personal and

“sweat” equity. The owners exude a lot of attention to details as is evidenced in every corner and crevice of their

facility. Their staff radiates a sense of professionalism and warmth rarely found in today’s business franchise model.

Northwest NJSBDC worked with the partners in the evaluation process (including site selection), reviewing documents, franchise agreements, property leases, and “partners’ agreement.” While most day spas are located in strip malls, Dave and Dale decided that an upscale downtown environment was more in harmony with their vision. It would attract the young professionals employed by Morristown firms and is consistent with the prestigious Massage Heights image. “We relied heavily on [Regional Director] Dolores Stammer’s expertise to guide us through the selection, launch and initial operations,” said Dale Carmody.

From the beginning of their relationship with Northwest NJSBDC, Dave and Dale have viewed Dolores Stammer as their strategic partner-advisor. “Whether the issue is related to marketing, human resources, finance or operations, we’ve come to rely on Northwest NJSBDC as a key resource,” said Dave.  During the Grand Opening, the partners introduced Northwest NJSBDC as the single consistent resource that guided them through multiple issues inherent in a major launch of this type.

While opening just this year, Massage Heights, Morristown already employs 15 individuals. The facility is a real showpiece for the Morristown Green properties and has adapted its marketing consistent with its upscale downtown image. The partners continue to view Northwest NJSBDC as their go-to partner in the continued success of their business. “Our sales are growing consistently month-by-month and we value the role that the SBDC has played in our success.” The owners are living testimony to the Massage Heights motto of being “simply better.”

NJSBDC AT NEW JERSEY CITY UNIVERSITY

Maria Mentiras Bar & Grill, LLC
Maria Gutierrez
328 32nd Street
Union City, NJ 07087
Tel: 201-966-9092
Website: www.mariamentirasbarandgrill.com

Maria Gutierrez arrived in New Jersey as a teen from Medelin, Colombia. She and her family were in search of opportunity and the American Dream. Her ambition and desire for success formed at age 17, when she opened her first clothing store. Sixteen-hour workdays and two-hour bus rides became a normal routine. Long days and expensive business lessons were met with even more drive and the discipline to continue moving forward.

In 2011, Ms. Gutierrez wanted to grow her clothing business and sought the assistance of the NJSBDC at New Jersey City University. Business consultant Ryan Silvestre advised Maria on her business structure, organizational skills, time management and financial arrangements. This extra insight into her entrepreneurial efforts led to conversations about expanding and possibly purchasing a new business. With help from the NJSBDC on valuation modeling and due diligence, a decision on building a new business was made. With proper planning, and a creative debt structure, Ms. Gutierrez was able to secure the capital needed to open Maria Mentiras Bar and Grill, LLC.  

Now one of Hudson County’s premier restaurants, Maria Mentiras, as the regulars endearingly call it, provides Latin fusion dishes, along with unique specialty cocktails and live music. A staple of Union City, New Jersey, Mentiras Bar & Grill draws a local crowd as well as patrons from many of the neighboring cities.

Since opening, Ms. Gutierrez has been able to create over 20 restaurant jobs, in addition to internship opportunities. Most recently, Ms. Gutierrez and the NJSBDC at NJCU have worked on a marketing and social media plan utilizing another SBDC client to assist her in its execution. NJSBDC at NJCU also assisted Maria Mentiras, LLC in upgrading from its paper method of bookkeeping to QuickBooks online. The results were greater efficiencies in time and cash flow management, which allowed her to capitalize on new business opportunities. Traditional approaches of bankability made it impossible for her to secure a commercial mortgage; however, with these interim financials, she was able to structure a private mortgage for the acquisition of two buildings for $1.2 million, and the purchase of the buildings housing her restaurant.  

In addition to the success of Maria Mentiras Bar & Grill, Ms. Gutierrez continues to grow her clothing store and multiple other businesses. Her newest venture is a gourmet fast food business with franchise potential. Salsa Arepa is scheduled to open later this year at the very exclusive Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, following completion of a $250,000 construction project. This truly long-term client has collectively created over 40-plus jobs and facilitated over $2 million in capital infusion invested in her businesses. The NJSBDC at NJCU will continue to provide support and guidance as the Center assists her in developing strategic plans concerning business sustainability and expansion.

NJSBDC AT BROOKDALE COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Aikido Center of Manasquan
Tim Vazquez
56 Union Avenue
Manasquan, NJ 08736
Tel: 732-309-0822
Website: www.ACNJManasquan.com

 

Tim Vazquez is the owner and chief instructor of the Aikido Center of Manasquan. He is a retired police officer, self-defense instructor, and an NJ State licensed Security Instructor.

Tim became a client of the NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College after attending one of the center’s no-cost, high-impact Bootcamps. There was a lack of traffic to his facility (Dojo), and he needed assistance quickly. Tim did some research and found NJSBDC at Brookdale. On June 2, 2016 he took the Center’s “Social Media Bootcamp” course that took him to the next level in social marketing. He subsequently enrolled in two workshops, “Running a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign” and “Intro to Blogging,” increasing his proficiency with social media and website management.

Tim took the knowledge and skills he developed during the workshops and implemented a proactive strategy. Employing a disciplined, innovative, and consistent approach, Tim is reaping the benefits of applying all the techniques that he learned in the courses. He redesigned all his social networks and website to make them mobile compliant, and started an AdWords account with Google. He even started blogging! Did it work? A delighted Tim states “I can tell that all the steps I took resulted in new traffic to the Dojo.” Not to stop there, Tim started and launched an app that is available on Google and the Apple store –  “Aikido Manasquan”!

Tim has increased traffic and sales by more than 10 percent, which for his highly competitive industry and market is exceptional. The use of online advancements, social media, and updates to his website have enabled him to continue to grow his business even when the dojo is closed.

“Thank you NJSBDC for all your help and expertise! I HIGHLY recommended anyone to attend the courses, receive guidance and counseling offered by NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College and their affiliated location Ocean County College. Is it a lot of work for anyone to re-design his or her social media? Yes, it is, but you will succeed with the help from NJSBDC!”

NJSBDC | TECHNOLOGY COMMERCIALIZATION

Arable Labs, Inc.
Adam Wolf, Ph.D.
40 North Tulane Street
Princeton, NJ 08542
Website: www.arable.com

Arable is a data and analytics company reducing risk in the food and agriculture supply chain. Their flagship product, the Mark, is a low-cost, highly connected solar-powered sensor that continuously and precisely measures more than 40 different, relevant data types regarding plant, light and weather conditions. The data enable farmers and agribusinesses to better assess crop status, forecast growth, predict yields and improve decision-making.

Customers are able to better manage resources in real time and make decisions that enable them to increase revenue through better forecasts of harvest timing, yield, and postharvest outcomes. The Mark hardware was designed in collaboration with the designer of the GoPro camera and Nest learning thermostat.  

Company Founder Adam Wolf was a Princeton University post doctorate candidate when he participated in the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps Teams Program (I-Corps).  The purpose of the program is to identify National Science Foundation/NSF-funded researchers who will receive additional support, in the form of mentoring and funding, to accelerate innovation that can attract subsequent third-party funding. Through their participation in I-Corps, Adam and his team decided to pursue SBIR funding. Arable’s I-Corps mentor referred them to NJSBDC’s Technology Commercialization Consultant, Randy Harmon.

Randy reviewed, critiqued and made suggestions for strengthening Adam’s draft NSF SBIR Phase I proposal, which was submitted in June 2015. Adam received word in December 2015 that the $150,000 project had been approved for funding. He then applied for and received $20,000 through NSF’s Phase IB program, which is intended to provide supplemental funding between the completion of Phase I and Phase II.

Upon successfully completing the Phase I project, Arable submitted a Phase II SBIR proposal at the end of August 2016 NJSBDC Consultant, Randy Harmon, assisted the team in the preparation of the Phase II technology commercialization plan.

Arable was able to successfully leverage their Phase I and IB awards to raise $2.6 million in venture capital which closed in February 2017. Upon successful completion of a pre-award audit and administrative review, Arable received notice of a $750,000 NSF Phase II award in April. According to Dr. Wolf, the assistance provided by NJSBDC through Randy Harmon helped Arable win SBIR Phase I and Phase II grants and the validation provided by the Phase I award helped raise their equity financing.

An opportunity exists to apply for additional NSF funding after Phase II ends. The Arable Insights platform, supported by the Arable Mark, is already generating revenue. Customers include Driscoll’s, Treasury Wine Estates, and Valley Irrigation. The Arable vision is to help enhance a customer’s sound decisions-making, mitigating risk in food production systems.

NJSBDC | SUSTAINABILITY

Consolidated Packaging Group, LLC
Gary R. Kaufman
30 Bergen Turnpike
Ridgefield Park, NJ 07660
Tel: 201-440-4240
Website: www.conpackgroup.com

Founded in 2004, Consolidated Packaging Group, LLC manufactures flexible packaging solutions at its SQF Level 2 certified 117,000 square foot facility in Ridgefield Park. Led by Executive Vice-President Gary Kaufman, CPG offers rollstock products, stand up pouches, quad seal pouches, laser scoring, pre-zippered films, bag tops, zip lock poly bags, and more. The company also provides laminated rollstock of film structures; and high barrier films, puncture resistant films, self-venting microwavable films, and films for frozen food applications. In addition, it offers pre-press, HD color printing, lamination, and slitting services. The company serves customers in industries or markets relating to food, frozen foods and vegetables, processed and fresh meats, consumer products, personal care, tissue overwrap, sanitary products, lawn and garden, household chemicals, mulch and soils, pet foods and treats, cat litter, and medical packaging.

CPG and its 125 employees are committed to creating packaging that minimizes environmental impact. During the manufacturing process, Gary strives for maximum conservation of raw materials and minimization of related waste, production processes, and energy consumption. Wishing to expand his business as well as his distinction as a leader in sustainable practices, Gary has met with NJSBDC at Ramapo College Regional Director Vince Vicari to discuss plans to increase CPG’s marketing and branding.   

To minimize waste, CPG performs packaging audits to reduce the amount of materials used without compro-

mising on the package’s durability, performance, and appearance. CPG also resells or reprocesses a majority of the polyethylene trim materials that are a by-product of the manufacturing process. In addition, they recycle many commonly used materials, such as cores, pallets, scrap metal, and all corrugated paper products. Gary estimates the annual number of pounds saved at over 280,000 – in addition to reductions in the cost of packaging, transportation, and energy consumed in the manufacturing process.

Dollar savings can also be found in CPG’s lamination division, where it has replaced all solvent-based adhesives with more environmentally-friendly technologies. Similar efficiencies also extend to re-cycling and reclaiming solvents in their Flexographic printing process, resulting in a savings of $225,000 per year.

To reduce energy usage even further, CPG replaced high intensity discharge lights with more efficient fluorescent and LED lighting; installed controls that turn lights on only when rooms are occupied; adjusted specific compressed air settings to lower the consumption of electric-drive power; installed variable speed drives on oxidizers to reduce the volume of natural gas required for incineration; and, installed a recovery system to capture waste heat.

NJSBDC | PROCUREMENT

KDW Partners
Eric Kainer & Rasul Damji
865 Ridge Road
Princeton, NJ 08852
Tel: 908-741-4314
Website: www.kdwpartners.com

For the past year, NJSBDC Procurement Consultant, Andy Bennett, has been working with KDW Partners located in Princeton, New Jersey.  The firm, owned by technology-savvy finance and marketing professional, Eric Kainer, and growth and transformation executive Rasul Damji, features Ambedded Technology advanced storage systems and Modulan cabinets and containment systems for large data centers and smaller computer rooms.  

Upon Andy’s recommendations, KDW added the technology leading, American-made LED lights from Pennsylvania-based Independence LED Lighting. Independence LED Lighting offers the highest quality, longest-lasting, highest efficiency lights in the world. As a result of adding Independence LED Lighting to their product line, KDW has seen exploding demand, both within its data center target market, and beyond. Demand for LED lighting has emerged from the Federal government, local government, commercial businesses, and even retail environments.

In April, SBDC Procurement Specialist Andy Bennett also introduced the firm to a New Jersey-based steel-manufacturing partner that is currently producing prototypes for KDW. In the same month he introduced another NJSBDC client, The Maximum Group LLC, which is working with KDW in business promotion and marketing.

To date, Andy has assisted the firm with over $1 million in negotiation support with Tier-1 construction companies in both Pennsylvania and Colorado. These negotiations were for KDW’s modular data center cabinets and containment. Andy also worked with the firm on a proposal for LED lighting systems for municipalities in Northern New Jersey with applications spanning libraries, schools, municipal buildings, and public housing.

In August 2017, Andy assisted KDW with negotiating and landing a $900,000 commercial contract with a Colorado-based construction company for LED lighting and CPU metal cabinets. And in November, one of the northern New Jersey municipalities (noted above) awarded KDW a contract for LED lighting that resulted from RFP research and review that Andy provided to the company’s business owner, Eric Kainer.

NJSBDC’s Procurement Specialty Program, through Andy Bennett, also introduced the firm to two contacts at Rutgers University’s purchasing department, and continues to work with KDW in business development, marketing, and contract negotiations support.

NJSBDC’s support of KDW and their perseverance has resulted in great outcomes!

THE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE

The Malachia Brantley Entrepreneurial Spirit Award
Nathaniel Sims, Small Business Management Consultant & Advisor

 

America’s SBDC New Jersey recognizes Nathaniel Sims for his solid, strong track record in supporting small business ownership and entrepreneurship in New Jersey.

The New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC) network lost one of its greatest contributors in assisting small business owners and entrepreneurs with the passing of Senior Business Advisor and Management Consultant Nathaniel (“Nat”) Sims this past May 2017.

Today, on behalf of America’s SBDC New Jersey, we provide this Excellence Award posthumously in remembrance of his strong dedication to assisting small business owners, veterans, and entrepreneurs in pursuit of their small business dreams.

He contributed greatly to our small business assistance program and provided guidance to countless numbers of entrepreneurs and small business owners in his various capacities over the years as Assistant Director and Director of the NJSBDC at Kean University and subsequently as Senior Consultant, specializing in veterans’ assistance, for NJSBDC Headquarters and the entire network. He helped hundreds of veterans either to start a business or expand their existing business.

Nat was a compassionate and caring person and a man of integrity. His business acumen and skills imparted great knowledge for clients of the NJSBDC program. He helped many small business clients along the road to success. He will be forever missed as one of our most giving Team members.

Through a lifetime of selfless service and dedication to the New Jersey small business community, his positive attitude and passion to help others made a difference and contributed greatly to the successful outcomes of many small businesses in our state.

Mr. Sims was posthumously awarded the Veteran Owned Small Business, Mentor of the Year Award for his tireless efforts and dedication for Veteran small business owners by The American Legion on June 8th, 2017.   

He sets an example for all of us to further bolster the mission of entrepreneurship and small business ownership.

Mexican Ambassador Diego Gomez Pickering Visits NJSBDC network Headquarters Office

Marcela Zuchovicki, an entrepreneur and small business owner, who is also a senior business consultant collaborating with SBDC network Headquarters, introduced Mexican Ambassador Diego Gomez Pickering to staff members of the head office of the NJSBDC network on October 2nd. Pickering mentioned that there are 1.5 million Mexican Americans being served in the tri-state region of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York and that new collaborations and relationships to support business needs can further economic development.

The Ambassador also met with the Dean of the Rutgers Business School (RBS), Dr. Lei Lei, amidst his busy schedule while passing through New Jersey. Professor Arturo Osorio, who also collaborates with the NJSBDC program at Headquarters, was also present from the academic team of RBS to engage with Ambassador Diego Gomez Pickering.

“We welcome the dissemination of information concerning the great work of our statewide network and national SBDC network with small businesses in New Jersey and throughout the country,” said Brenda B. Hopper, chief executive officer and state director of the NJSBDC network.

“Our statewide network has special programs for our Latino small business clients and we have special relationships with various countries’ consulate offices in the metropolitan area to further the cause of small business development and growth,” said Deborah Smarth, chief operating officer and associate state director of the statewide NJSBDC program.

America’s SBDC, the national network of SBDCs, has continued to work with the U.S. State Department in promoting small business collaborations and support for the purpose of bolstering entrepreneurship and small business ownership and growth in The Americas.

America’s SBDC New Jersey Announces Formal Partnership with Seton Hall University

Seton Hall Business School Becomes “Affiliate” of NJSBDC at Rutgers-Newark

America’s SBDC New Jersey announced that it is officially partnering with the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ. Seton Hall University’s Business School is a formal “affiliate” of America’s SBDC New Jersey.

“We’re extremely excited about this new partnership,” said NJSBDC network Chief Executive Officer and State Director Brenda B. Hopper. “It provides new and enhanced opportunities for NJSBDC service coverage on Seton Hall’s campus for entrepreneurs and small business owners through our full-time Center, NJSBDC at Rutgers-Newark.”

“We’re excited to be an affiliate office for the NJSBDC program,” said Dean Joyce A. Strawser, Ph.D. of Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business. “We believe that there is much synergy in promoting entrepreneurship and small business ownership. Working with the SBDC program to support entrepreneurs and small business owners in our communities as well as serious-minded business, entrepreneurial students at Seton Hall will be a very productive endeavor.”

“Working with Business School Dean Joyce Strawser and a few administrators at Seton Hall to develop support for such a partnership has been a real pleasure. We look forward to working closely with the Business School in making this a strong and growing partnership,” said NJSBDC network Chief Operating Officer and Associate State Director Deborah Smarth. “This formal affiliate partnership strengthens NJSBDC’s visibility, making availabile technical assistance for small business owners on Seton Hall’s campus and in the surrounding communities.”

“I look forward to building this new affiliate relationship with faculty and students at Seton Hall University and providing new opportunities for small business owners with access to SBDC services on the Seton Hall campus,” stated Tendai Ndoro, Ph.D. regional director of NJSBDC at Rutgers-Newark. “We are working on a full slate of training events and customized counseling on-site.” A ribbon-cutting ceremony and “Open House” was held on October 27th at Seton Hall University.

The NJSBDC at Rutgers-Newark, one of 12 centers throughout the state, provides comprehensive assistance for small businesses in Essex County. Customized one-on-one counseling and other training seminars will be offered at the Stillman Business School at Seton Hall University by the Center.

STATE DIRECTOR NOMINATED, AWARDED NJBIZ ICON AWARD

NJBIZ offers opportunities for nominations concerning an array of achievement awards ranging from Chief Financial Officer, Legal Counsel, to entrepreneurs and/or business owners of the year. This year NJBIZ rolled out another awards series called the ICON Awards for Business Leaders in their sixties. CEO/State Director of America’s SBDC New Jersey, Brenda B. Hopper, was one of several individuals who received such recognition on August 23, 2017.

NJBIZ classifies the inaugural NJBIZ ICON Honors Awardees as “business leaders who are in a class of their own: the pioneers and change-makers. Those who have made a daily impact on their local communities and unparalleled contributions to the economic excellence of our region.”

“I was pleased to receive this award,” said Brenda B. Hopper. “It’s always nice to be recognized with other business professionals who make their contributions to the business world. Small business is my passion.”

Ms. Hopper believes her biggest contribution to New Jersey’s business community is “The success of our small business clients; whether it’s increased revenues and profits, creating and retaining jobs, winning a new federal, state or municipal procurement contract, getting a new international trade deal, or receiving that much needed financing for expansion. Their success is our success.”

Hopper was also a recent recipient of the Support Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and the African-American Outstanding Achievement Award from Kappa Community Development Corporation (KCDC).

America’s SBDC New Jersey Sponsors Women Warriors in Business

Joined by Expert Panelists and News12 New Jersey Executive Producer

America’s SBDC New Jersey was joined by event primary sponsors of “Women Warriors in Business,” including M&T Bank and Prudential Financial. Partners who also engaged included the U.S. Small Business Administration, The American Legion, PSE&G and The State of New Jersey’s Business Action Center, a key state funding partner of the NJSBDC network.

Ivy Charmatz, an Emmy Award-winning executive producer for news and special projects at News12 New Jersey, was the featured speaker for America’s SBDC New Jersey Women Warriors in Business program. This high-impact women entrepreneur and leadership symposium and luncheon held on May 11, 2017 at 8:00 am until 2:00 pm, took place at Rutgers Business School in Newark, NJ.

Chamatz is a graduate of Rutgers University and stated that the event offered “an opportunity for women to come together and realize that although our paths may be different, our journeys are similar.” She stated that she enjoyed “spending the morning with so many accomplished professionals to share some of their insight and inspiration.”

The “Women Warriors in Business” program helped women explore leadership challenges and opportunities in business and careers, identify competitive advantages, help with personal and organizational branding, access lenders for financing, and utilize procurement certifications that are necessary when it comes to competing for public/private contracts.

Joining Charmatz at the gathering were Stephanie D. Burroughs, senior procurement consultant for NJSBDC’s Specialty Procurement Program, Tendai Ndoro, Ph.D., regional director of the NJSBDC at Rutgers-Newark, Kate Muldoon, regional director of the NJSBDC at William Paterson University, Pasqualina DeBoer, assistant regional director of the NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College, Stacy Smollin Schwartz, marketing professor, Rutgers Business School, Dominick Belfiore, small business and entrepreneur specialist at the U.S. Small Business Administration, Don Newman, director of small business advocacy at The State of New Jersey’s Business Action Center and representatives from the private sector including Michele Litzky, president of Litzky Public Relations, Cheryl McCants, president and chief executive officer of Impact Consulting Enterprises, Beverly Winkler, director of organizational engagement, learning and development at PSE&G, Dawn Fitch-Mitchell, director of diversity at DDB Worldwide, Maureen Fairfax, vice president of strategic sourcing at Prudential Financial, Lindsey C. Holmes, chief executive officer and lead strategist of Usable Tech and Andaiye Taylor, founder and editor of BrickCityLive.com.

The event attracted more than 75 women from different business careers and paths and highlighted women in the military, veterans and military dependents. Shy Hopkins, NJSBDC’s network Headquarters marketing program coordinator helped organize and plan the event, with Eugene Spillane of the U.S. SBA and Bob Looby of The American Legion. NJTV provided coverage.

NJ Small Business Development Centers’ Clients Invited to Meet and Discuss Small Business Issues with SBA Administrator Linda McMahon

The New Jersey SBA District Office, under the leadership of District Director Al Titone, Deputy Director John Blackstock, and Project Officer and Public Affairs Specialist Harry Menta invited America’s SBDC New Jersey network Headquarters to arrange for four of its SBDC network clients to participate at a Roundtable Session with the newly appointed SBA Administrator, Linda McMahon. The gathering took place on the morning of June 2nd at Gateway Center in Newark, NJ at the offices of the SBA District Office.

“These sessions of engagement are so necessary,” said Brenda B. Hopper, NJSBDC chief executive officer and state director. “We’re encouraged that SBA’s outreach to the small business sector enhances the understanding of key issues they confront. It’s all very helpful in program services and delivery.”

“We’re glad that some of our small business clients were able to join Administrator Linda McMahon and the SBA staff members,” said Deborah Smarth, NJSBDC network chief operating officer and associate state director. “Our clients enjoyed the experience and offered their perspectives about the challenges and needs of small business owners and how SBDC assistance helped them enhance their business operations.”

One of NJSBDC’s clients participating at the SBA Roundtable was glad to have conversed about small business challenges. “The discussion was engaging and provocative ranging from the rising cost and inflexibility of Workers Compensation Insurance to unfair business practices threatening small business. No subject was off the table and all conversation was candid,” stated Paul Steck, president and chief executive officer of Exothermic Molding, Inc. “Every effort was made by the SBA to make this meeting productive and worthwhile, directly in keeping with Linda McMahon’s vision as an advocate for small business.”

NJSBDC clients who participated at the SBA Roundtable included:

BKW Transformation Group, headed by Beverly White, is headquartered in Piscataway and provides end-to-end business process management solutions by integrating strategic planning, process assessment, technology implementation and organizational change. The company has been an SBDC client since 2013. The NJSBDC at Rutgers-New Brunswick assisted the business owner with business planning, global expansion, procurement opportunities and financing. The BKW vision resulted from the owner’s vast experience at both the operational and executive level while employed at multiple major corporations and Big 5 Consulting companies, as well as managing non-profit agencies. BKW has been instrumental in developing business architectural processes and transforming them into operational support system solutions to meet business needs. The company focuses on creating holistic business solutions through its work methodologies that harness the client organizational expertise. Beverly White noted, “We work to formulate solutions that optimize operational efficiencies and the expertise of the company has grown through its valued resource team of technology specialists, business analysts, and experts in program and project management.”

Exothermic Molding, Inc., whose President and CEO is Paul Steck, specializes in the development and manufacture of high quality molded plastic parts often used as electronic enclosures in the medical devices, laboratory instruments and technology markets. As a client of NJSBDC at Kean University, the firm received assistance with trade/export issues, sustainability practices, and issues relating to the hiring of personnel. The company, considered one of the leading RIM manufacturers in the United States, has successfully served these industries for over forty years. Exothermic Molding works with independent industrial designers, and the engineering departments of global OEM’s such as Becton Dickinson, Siemens Medical, Brooks Automation, Honeywell Analytical and Beckman Coulter. The company’s client portfolio also includes noteworthy, smaller technology manufacturers such as SolidScape (3-D printing), Canfield Scientific (medical imaging), and Qfix (patient positioning). Exothermic also serves the Department of Defense and laser driven, automatic guided vehicle markets (AGV). Beginning with design consultation, Exothermic Molding provides complete product manufacturing services that include producing machined aluminum injection molds used to manufacture the molded products. Parts are molded in-house and secondary processing often includes automotive grade paint finishes, silk-screening, and value-added assembly services.

Acrilex, Inc., led by Steve Sullivan, chief executive officer, is a leading distributor of plastics, fabricated components and custom manufactured products in the NYC Tri-State area with branch offices in various national locations. The firm was a previous NJSBDC Success Award Winner. David Grunberg, vice president, represented the company at the SBA roundtable. After 42 years in business in Jersey City, NJ, Acrilex Inc. has grown into a multi-faceted industry player. The firm transitioned from private ownership to an employee stock-owned (ESOP) company. Acrilex received assistance from the NJSBDC at New Jersey City University to gain knowledge and guidance in the areas of marketing, business planning, financial forecasting, government certifications, export analysis, procurement and new market expansion. As a result, Acrilex was able to create an in-house marketing division to increase sales and promote new product lines to target groups. Company-wide sales and profits are up. Acrilex CEO Steve Sullivan believes that “community services like the NJSBDC to assist businesses to grow and be profitable are vital. The mission of Small Business Development Centers is more crucial today than it has ever been: to try and help businesses grow out of this slow economy.”

Lobster Life Systems, Inc. (LLS) is a state-of-the-art design, production, and maintenance provider of marine salt, filters, activated carbon, lobster tanks, fish tanks, shellfish tanks and other marine life systems. The company, located in Lodi, NJ, was a recent past NJSBDC Success Award Winner. LLS provides many major supermarket chains, restaurants, supermarkets, gourmet shops, wholesalers and marine exhibitors throughout North America with equipment and supplies necessary to operating a healthy aquatic system. Founded in 1989, LLS is currently owned by Kristine LaGuardia and Thomas Olsen. Tom and Kristine were employees of LLS and purchased the company from their retiring owner who was a client of the NJSBDC serving Bergen County. Tom and Kristine received guidance from the NJSBDC in key areas: sales and expense budgeting; profit and loss statements (analysis and review); marketing brand building; and development of sales in key profitable areas of the business. LLS gained an increased nationwide share in this industry and experienced sales revenue increases, allowing it to hire additional personnel. Tom Olsen notes, “LLS, Inc. has been actively working with the Bergen Small Business Development Center for several years and has greatly benefited from the relationship with our advisors Vince Vicari and Jim Palumbo. We are happy to have utilized the services of NJSBDC and will continue to look to the SBDC team to help us soar to new heights!”

Administration Proposes Reduced Federal Funding for National SBDC Program

America’s SBDC Will Advocate in Congress to Promote Stable or Increased Funding

The proposed FY 2018 federal budget of the Trump administration proposes $110 million for the national SBDC program administered through the U.S. Small Business Administration. The House Financial Services appropriations subcommittee has proposed $120 million.

Representative Velazquez from New York has offered an amendment to increase that amount to $130 million. Under the congressional continuing resolution for fiscal year 2017, $117 million had been allocated to America’s SBDC, but, the 2017 Omnibus Act increased the funding level to $125 million.

The national organization – America’s SBDC – headquartered in Burke, Virginia will strongly advocate on Capitol Hill for a better budget allocation. The national program has major supporters in Congress who assist with funding support each year.

This is early in the budget process and it is expected that with the highly respected track record of the national SBDC network in creating and saving jobs and generating new businesses as well as growing established small businesses, the congressional budget process will yield better outcomes in terms of budgetary expectations.

“America’s SBDC will be working with our friends and supporters in Congress to ensure SBDC funding remains at current levels or better,” said Tee Rowe, president and chief executive officer of the national network, America’s SBDC. “In light of the natural disasters and strong supporting roles that SBDCs play, that request is only logical and we anticipate strong support.”

Each year in February or March, the national SBDC network holds the Association Winter/Spring Meeting and proceeds to have all state SBDC networks advocate with the congressional delegations from the respective states following its General Meeting.

“We have a good relationship with our congressional delegation in New Jersey,” said Deborah Smarth, chief operating officer and associate state director. “They know about our impact numbers just like our state legislators in Trenton. They understand how important this program is and they work hard to provide resources to ensure small business and entrepreneurial support.”

“We look forward to working with our counterparts in the national network as well as our national office at ensuring good funding results,” added Brenda B. Hopper, chief executive officer and state director.

AMERICA’S SBDC RECOGNIZES SBDC BUSINESS LEADERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY AT NATIONAL CONFERENCE

SBDC Regional Director at Ramapo College of New Jersey Receives “State Star” Award

America’s SBDC “State Star” award was presented to Regional Center Director Vincent Vicari of NJSBDC at Ramapo College of New Jersey during America’s SBDC national conference in Nashville, Tennessee (September 4-8).

Each of the 50-state SBDC networks nominates their staff members who exhibit excellence in assisting entrepreneurs and small businesses, promoting greater opportunities for growth, thereby, contributing greatly to the state and national Small Business Development Center program. Vicari was recognized from New Jersey’s SBDC.

“We recognize Vincent Vicari for his strong efforts and leadership in assisting small business owners and entrepreneurs who seek help with their business operations,” said Brenda B. Hopper, NJSBDC network chief executive officer and state director. “The Center provides quality support for its business clients and also delivers specialized assistance for veterans.”

“We are grateful for Vince’s leadership at the Center,” said Anisfield School of Business Dean Ed Petkus of Ramapo College, located in Mahwah, NJ. “We are extremely proud to have our Center’s Director recognized at the national conference of America’s SBDC. His strong passion to help business owners leads to great results. He has made our Ramapo Center and its services very visible throughout Bergen County.” The Anisfield School of Business is AACSB accredited.

“Vincent Vicari’s contributions to the statewide Small Business Development Centers program are appreciated,” said Deborah Smarth, NJSBDC network chief operating officer and associate state director. “His diligence with small business owners and his strong advocacy with various public and private stakeholders in the Center’s service region add value to our program.”

“I am honored to receive this recognition,” said Vincent Vicari. “Providing advice and guidance to small businesses to help them develop and grow is rewarding. The staff of regional centers statewide and the support by NJSBDC Headquarters enhances the program’s impact. The success of our clients statewide illuminates NJSBDC’s success, also.”

Vince Vicari is a Bergen County native who joined the NJSBDC network in 2008 as Assistant Director. He was appointed as the center’s regional director a few years later. Vicari’s successful and wide-ranging career includes positions in retail management, sales, food service, higher education and consulting. His credentials include an M.B.A. from National University in San Diego, a B.A. from William Paterson University, and an A.A.S. from Bergen Community College. Mr. Vicari continues to pursue education in specialized areas like land surveying, tax, technology and international trade. He has many years of teaching experience as an adjunct faculty member at four-year higher education colleges/universities in the area of business management and has co-authored and published academic papers in this field.

Annual America’s SBDC Conference and General Meeting Held in Tennessee

The 37th Annual America’s SBDC Conference was held September 4-8 in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. The theme of this year’s conference was “Work Smarter. Live Better.”

Every year the national conference attracts 1,300-plus SBDC professionals from all over the nation. SBDC business advisors, trainers, directors and executives came together for professional development and networking.

SBDC experts and staff attended the 140-plus workshops that overflowed into the hallways, and in the exhibit hall where they eagerly engaged with each other, sharing best practices and experiences at their individual SBDC state networks. SBDC professionals also had the opportunity to engage with tradeshow exhibitors, learning about the latest information on products and services that can ensure the success of SBDC small business clients.

At the Conference, the national association held its General Meeting of State Directors/CEOs and Associate State Directors/COOs to discuss the national strategic plan and how to face the challenges of running statewide programs, including growth initiatives and attracting financial investments.

“The exchange of ideas is always very helpful,” said Brenda B. Hopper, chief executive officer and state director of the NJSBDC network.

“Raising questions on important issues and gaining insights from other SBDC leaders across the nation is always a good learning experience,” stated Deborah Smarth, chief operating officer and associate state director of America’s SBDC New Jersey (NJSBDC).

At the Conference, Dolores Stammer, regional director at NJSBDC of Northwest Jersey (Morris, Sussex and Warren counties) made a presentation on the Business Growth Accelerator Program (B-GAP) that she has pioneered at her Center, and which is being replicated by other centers in the statewide network. The initiative is aimed at high-impact small businesses with sales of $1 million or more and/or 10-plus employees. In addition, Vincent Vicari, regional director of the NJSBDC at Ramapo College of New Jersey (Bergen County), was recognized as NJSBDC network’s “State Star” along with other award winners throughout the national America’s SBDC network.

Smart Small Business Strategies for Surviving the Economic Slump

Survival strategies that small businesses need to manage an economic slump differ from those that large companies can put in place because small businesses have limited resources in terms of human capital, money, and time. Large companies usually focus on macro-level strategic actions such as economic indicator trends and downturns. Small business strategic choices should focus on micro-level indicators that take into account small low-cost incremental strategic actions guaranteed to yield high results, impact and return on investments.

There are five strategy categories or perspectives from which a business can choose to develop their strategic actions: Management oriented strategies; Resources oriented strategies; Knowledge oriented strategies; Business Operational/Internal Systems oriented strategies; or External Environmental oriented strategies. Small businesses need to be aware of their strategic choice orientation in order to be clear about the intentions and significance of your strategic action objective, impact and outcomes or results. Focus on implementing integrated, low touch solutions. Below are some of the micro strategies to take into consideration:

1 Revenue/Cash Inflow Strategies i.e. focus on cash flow statement as an indicator for what’s currently happening to the company’s cash inflow. This allows the business to primarily focus on strategies that are cash inflow oriented because this is what’s likely to keep them in business during the course of the economic slump.

2 Revenue Diversification Strategies i.e. focused on revenue generation strategies, not revenue reallocation strategies. Revenue retrenchment works to a point, but it’s not the only way for small businesses to save their companies in an economic slump. Cutting cost is a “maintenance” strategy – a measure for recycling the same money already in the business so that you can direct it to priority areas or appropriate budgets so that you can stay in business.

3 Market/Service/Product Mix Objectives: Reassess the business objectives (maybe goals) – that would help the business adjust to the prevailing economic conditions. An example would be focusing on Market/services or product MIX strategies. There are many alternatives a business can pursue in this strategy such as:
a) Old services/products to new market;
b) New services/products to old market;
c) New services/products to new market base.

4 Strategic Alignment: Because of their small size, small businesses/companies are quick to shift and have the ability to respond to external changes like an economic slump. This is an advantage. Therefore it is very important to align the business structures, processes, performance measures and/or incentives with internal changes as well as external economic forces.

5 Structures: Internal & External Business structures: Focus on the internal and external operating structures and how they impede or enhance efficiency and effectiveness; how can the business structure be modified to align with ongoing changes without necessarily “compromising” the core business model.

6 Processes: Focus on costly processes in place that increase your cost of doing business; modify and streamline to reduce expenses. For example, what aspects of the doing business processes can be outsourced rather than be maintained in-house? Eliminate “bureaucratic” or “red tape” business processes i.e., technology mediocrity to non-value adding operational routines.

7 Performance Measurement: Measuring performance is huge in eliminating redundant processes. Focus on time management, employee rate of productivity and efficiency, and the impact of business processes and procedures. Performance analytic information should always inform decision making.

8 Human Capital Incentives: Negotiate with your employees for incentives like flex-time if you cannot afford financial compensation; focus on greater role clarification; review employee resumes to identify former training, skills and experiences you can leverage and cross training of employees. Negotiate with suppliers and clients. Communication is key in human capital management.

Dr. Tendai Ndoro is the Director of the NJSBDC at Rutgers University-Newark campus.

NJSBDC Network’s Sustainability Program Helps Small Businesses Identify Ways to Reduce Business Costs While Instituting Environmentally-Friendly Practices

The U.S. EPA’s grant to the NJSBDC network has allowed the network to establish and continue the Green Sustainability Specialty Program into 2017. The specialty program provides information and technical assistance for small business owners concerning how they can realize savings and bring down business costs by instituting sustainable, “green” practices into their business operations (i.e. energy conservation, waste reduction, pollution prevention, streamlined procurement and risk management). When they implement a certain threshold of sustainable practices (at least five), they become part of the NJ Sustainability Business Registry which can be accessed through NJSBDC’s website. These small businesses are enabled to market their businesses with the “Sustainable Business” seal.  The NJSBDC team through this federal grant, and with the collaboration of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, provides one-on-one counseling and prepares specialized audits (on request) making recommendations customized to the particular small business inquiring about sustainable practices. The NJSBDC Team will also provide informative seminars at events sponsored by business groups or initiated and sponsored by the Sustainability NJSBDC Team for NJSBDC’s current clients across the state. For more information about sustainability learning opportunities, send a message to sbdcinfo@njsbdc.com.

BANK OF AMERICA (BOA) PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR 2017

Over the past few years, Bank of America has partnered with America’s SBDC New Jersey, providing a high level of financial resources so that the NJSBDC network can continue to work with entrepreneurs and small business owners in targeted high unemployment areas across the state.

The BOA-NJSBDC collaboration focuses on providing various forms of technical assistance concerning building and repairing credit to appropriately overcome financial constraints and barriers for small, minority and women business owners. In addition, other assistance for marketing, business planning, and accounting skills has also been provided so that business owners are well equipped to meet the challenges of running a business.

Several centers of the network have been providing counseling and training under this partnership for such individuals wanting to start businesses as well as those existing businesses that want to further develop.

“We are grateful to the Bank of America for their financial support,” said Brenda B. Hopper. “ This kind of support allows us to provide small business resources in areas that confront greater economic barriers. We’ve been able to reach hundreds and hundreds of clients and our services have made a difference as a result of BOA’s generous support.”

Technology Commercialization Assistance and Support Offered to Science-Technology Companies/Entrepreneurs through America’s SBDC New Jersey

America’s SBDC New Jersey Technology Commercialization Program sponsored a September 30th SBIR/STTR training seminar (8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.) followed by one-to-one appointments at the NJ Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) North Brunswick facility. PSE&G provided support for this event and follow-on with SBDC science-technology clients and trainees. In addition, a key sponsor of these annual sessions is Eisner Amper, accountant advisors. Other sponsoring organizations included BioNJ and the Rutgers Office of New Ventures and Entrepreneurship as well as supporting organizations including Innovation NJ, the NJ Technology Council, and NJIT Enterprise Development Center.

Randy Harmon, the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers network Technology Commercialization Program Consultant, invited The National Cancer Institute, The Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Smart Health and Biomedical Technologies Program to participate at this seminar.

The services of NJSBDC’s program focuses on providing guidance and assistance in pursuing Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Transfer of Technology (STTR) grants; the program’s consultant coaches and provides assistance in the proposal preparation process and also specialized reviews and critiques of draft proposals with specific suggestions as to how to strengthen in order to be competitive in winning such grant awards. These latter services aim at Phase I and Phase II commercialization plans, which can be particularly challenging for many applicants. Assistance can be provided by sending an email message to rgharmon@njsbdc.com; call NJSBDC’s Headquarters Office located at Rutgers Business School, (973) 353-1927.