Elite Auto Collision

Conflicts in decision making are all too common for small family owned businesses like Elite Auto Collision. Between the mother, father, son, and daughter team, procedural methods were becoming blurred. Matriarch Sandra Baker-Assemi decided that to clear the air and ensure a successful future, she would reach out to her local SBDC for help.

Baker-Assemi met with SBDC consultant Michele Burkart in 2012 to discuss mitigating the internal strain within Elite Auto Collision and how to promote future growth. “She wanted to really restructure the company and realized that updating of her financial information was a key to accomplishing this.” Burkart noted.

With Burkart’s help, Elite Auto Collision created a plan to accomplish their goal. First they compiled a list of banks in the area, learning the eligibility rules for SBA loans. Burkart advised them on what business plan software to purchase in order to make financial presentations that ultimately secured the financing they needed.

Family-run small businesses have their own set of challenges, but Sandra Baker-Assemi and her fellow family co-owners have found a way to make it work. “We care deeply about the success of our enterprise and take pride in our joint accomplishments.” Baker-Assemi mused, adding, “Hanging around a bunch of loveable brainiacs is just plain fun!”

Baker Assemi is a true believer in how SBDC helps small businesses. “We consider the SBDC to be a part of our success strategy.” By getting an outside opinion on their next steps, Elite Auto Collision refocused and reinvigorated the company. Elite Auto Collision continues to seek better ways to increase profitability and market share through innovative marketing initiatives, and the SBDC is at their side every step of the way.

National Escalator Cleaning La Mesa

Nancy Santangelo and her husband started National Escalator Cleaning, LLC in 2010, but this infant company was to hit enormous obstacles in its first few years. Not only did they face stifling competition and persistent solicitors, but Nancy’s business’ co-owner and husband died suddenly, leaving her without a partner or husband.

Santangelo approached the Small Business Development Center early in 2012 because her business was being flooded with competitors trying to buy her out. Professional business consultant Michelle Burkart began working with Santangelo, sharpening the focus of both the business and its owner.

“Michelle is wonderful,” said Santangelo. “Before I was swamped, but Michelle is helping me with a business plan and marketing.” Thanks to several sessions with SBDC consultants, Santangelo’s website is under construction and her client focus has never been sharper.
Since the death of Santagelo’s husband, Stephen Semaan became a company partner and he and Santangelo now have the equipment they need to continue growing National Escalator Cleaning, LLC. But the courage to be an entrepreneur is something Santangelo had all along.

“She overcame the loss of her husband and business partner.” said Burkart. “She obtained the investment capital needed to buy better equipment and restructured her company to expand and grow with the help of the SBDC. She is a real success story.”

Santangelo said she plans to continue using the resources of the SBDC to overcome the challenges her business faces and hopes one day to make her company national. “I want to make my business successful,” she said. “I want to take it to the next level.”

The Door and Window Consultants

From the House to a New Location – The Door and Window Consultants…

Finding an unmet need in a market is a time tested path to success, but capitalizing on the opportunity can be challenging. While working for various contractors and door installation companies, Randall Burger discovered one of these unmet needs. In an attempt to fill this niche, Burger created The Door & Window Consultants in 1980; a home-based business specializing in custom made door and window solutions.

Burger contacted the San Diego Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in February 2012 and met with business consultant, Michelle Burkhart. Burger’s focus at the time was to take his company to the next level. Burkhart’s past experience working with contractors, vendors, and employee related issues made her a perfect fit for The Door & Window Consultants. With so much information out there Burger credited Burkhart with being a, “walking encyclopedia of people who can help with websites, information, and a variety of things.”

As a single father, one of Burger’s top goals was a better quality business-life balance. With this in mind, Burkhart pointed out the benefits of moving from a home-based location to a new facility. “Of course, there were new financial concerns with new ongoing cost, but they were just not going to grow if they didn’t move,” Burkhart said.

With Burkhart’s help, The Door & Window Consultants underwent a major restructuring and rebranding effort, targeting a higher end market. This change has already delivered favorable results with the company landing larger contracts.

With growth and success stemming from his SBDC visits, Burger plans to continue to visit Burkart. “Michelle is a good listener and she helps us by setting specific dates to meet goals,” he said. Burkhart claims that Burger’s true reason for success is that he was ready and willing to “do the work” that is needed to grow.