To read our full newsletter please click here: winter-2016-newsletter
To read our full newsletter please click here: winter-2016-newsletter
The next time someone asks if the people at your bank are “stiff”, show them our version of the Mannequin Challenge!
Here’s the link to our video on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EnterpriseFinancialServicesGroup/videos/1850306328537235/
When I walked into the KinetiGear, LLC, makers of BoXZY, headquarters I knew I was in a unique space. There were mechanical pieces and parts everywhere and the people looked energized and happy. BoXZY is a 3D printer, CNC Mill, and Laser Engraver in one made to help fill a gap in the industry. As a client of Enterprise Bank I was granted the opportunity to visit the headquarters and speak with one of the founders, Joel Johnson. After a tour of the headquarters itself I sat down with Joel, who started the business with his brother Justin, and talk about their experience creating BoXZY from the ground up. Joel and Justin have experienced extreme success with BoXZY earning the title of Pennsylvania’s Most Successfully Funded Tech Campaign on Kickstarter and Pittsburgh’s most Successfully Funded Campaign. I decided to start from the beginning and ask Joel what is motivation was to become an entrepreneur with his brother. “I always say that being an entrepreneur is who we are,” he replied, “I don’t think you just suddenly say you want to be an entrepreneur, it’s just us.” Joel continued to tell me about how he and his brother would constantly be evaluating their surroundings, asking themselves how they would sell certain products or make a profit off of them. Since they were kids they have been indulging their entrepreneurial spirit and challenging themselves until they came up with the idea for BoXZY. “It was actually an extended process,” Joel explained as he started to tell the story of BoXZY. Joel had decided to help his brother run a contracting company and started talking about small business issues and education’s link to it. Then they started investigating local maker/incubator spaces such as Tech Shop and noticed the three things that were most used in those spaces; 3D printing, CNC milling, and Laser engraving. And that was how BoXZY was born.
I had to find out more about their process creating BoXZY completely from scratch and how they would describe their entrepreneurial journey. “It was wonderful… and horrible, all of the above,” Joel explained, “I was a psychology and philosophy major and I had to learn robotics.” He further explained to me that Justin was the inventor out of the two of them, but both of them had a lot to learn before they could launch BoXZY. Joel also told me about how their different view points coupled with their sibling competitiveness fueled their processes. “Conflict is not bad, it’s not the kind of thing that should leave a stain, it’s the kind of thing that should come to a conclusion and a solution,” Joel said while describing how their brotherly competition stays friendly and always gets resolved. This way they are able to continue to be partners and keep their relationship in tact. While Joel admits that their journey through creating their company wasn’t perfect, he chooses to see mistakes as feedback and information about their environment. Sometimes through mistakes you learn more than you would have if you had “done things right”. “The one thing I would do differently is use an experienced contractor in situations where I don’t need labor. Mistakes in labor can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars before you even know what happened. A mature contractor can stabilize a lack of experience,” Joel explained.
Joel’s favorite item that they made using BoXZY? “It’s not going to sound cool, but it’s a utility knife. It’s super pretty, super personalized, and it’s definitely my favorite.” Joel explained that they have made a lot of different projects that he is really proud of, but he is most proud of the diversity of the projects. They have participated in artistic projects such as paintings, gear sets, and fine woods. A big part of what Joel and Justin do is go to Maker Faires to network and show off what their product can do. “Maker Faires have… people from art, crafts, robotics, someone making their first product for Kickstarter,” he explained. It’s an incredibly diverse network of people coming together to learn more about how they can make what they love. The intellectual capital exchange is Joel’s favorite part of the Maker Faires because they inspire Joel and Justin to create better improvements. What is Joel’s advice for those looking to become an entrepreneur? “Avoid venture capital, think of yourself as a small business, interrogate your environment and your life for resources,” he said. He says also to take advice with a grain of salt, as advice is uni-directional. Instead of having someone tell you the path you should take, you should have someone who challenges you constantly. “You need to be brutal when you look at the resources available to you,” he continued.
Joel and Justin found Enterprise through well-placed connections in the industry. Joel explains that he knew someone who received a loan from Enterprise and were happy with their experience. Joel then went to his financial advisor to talk about if Enterprise was the right choice, which we were. Joel only has nice things to say about Enterprise and his experience with us as a whole. “They’re partners with us in the process and have consistently overcome obstacles,” he explains. He explains the process as adaptive and flexible with Enterprise focusing on their needs as a small business. He says that while many organizations said they would help, no one ever really lived up to what they said until Enterprise.
After my discussion with Joel I went to discuss their success with their Relationship Manager Randy Davidson. Randy is incredibly proud to be able to witness the success of Joel and Justin with BoXZY. “My first impression of them is that they were highly intelligent and high tech,” Randy told me. He continued to talk about how they had a great vision for their future and the future of BoXZY. When Enterprise and KinetiGear, LLC met, KinetiGear was still in the start up phase but was growing rapidly. Enterprise was able to provide an SBA loan to Joel and Justin for inventory purchases and working capital. Throughout the process Randy describes Joel and Justin as very cooperative which led to a smooth process. Randy also mentions working with Hadley Pratt, the Head of Corporate Services, with which he has developed a good, strong relationship. “Joel and Justin are headed in a really strong direction and I’m excited to see how they continue to grow in the months and years to come.”
To learn more about BoXZY please visit http://www.boxzy.com/.
Wendy Staso possesses unshakeable integrity, strong values and incredible resolve. She accepts nothing less from those with whom she works, elevating the individuals and businesses she touches. She believes in doing the right thing even when it is unpopular or difficult. She believes in sacrifice and demonstrates that in her personal and professional lives through her volunteerism, work ethic, and dedication to faith and family. She is a persistent perfectionist, always looking to reach the next level of performance for herself and her business. Her pursuit of success is relentless – existing in the small details and the master plans.
It is with this spirit that Wendy assumed the helm of Huckestein Mechanical Services in 2010, believing it to be a stable, profitable business in need of fresh ideas and direction. She planned to use her managerial experience and personal moxie to refine and grow the operation. Within three months however, she unearthed the truth – she had inherited financial losses, mounting debt, lacking processes and a badly damaged brand. In the face of this adversity she fell back on her character. She chose to focus on her assets – highly skilled technicians, versatile designers, industry knowledge, and loyal customers – and assess her gaps. She set about reorganizing and evaluating the operation to determine profitability and performance. Wendy then surrounded herself with the best talent available to address the deficiencies, better educate herself and further the goals of her business.
Being an HVAC industry newcomer, she was not constrained by history or how things should be done. She didn’t let her status as the only woman-owned and operated contractor in a male-dominated, union industry deter her. Nothing was off limits. It was, and continues to be, a time of unprecedented change yielding record improvement and profitability.
Today the company provides value to customers throughout the design – build – service– operations continuum. Their integrated design and delivery model is a highly collaborative, fully integrated process built on trust, mutual respect, teamwork, innovation and creative problem solving, a clear departure from the traditional construction model utilized by most contractors today.
Wendy’s advice to others looking to start or grow a business: “Find your passion, trust your gut, and surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are.”
Wendy’s success at Huckestein would not have been possible without Enterprise Bank. During the first year of her tenure, the bank that held the company’s financing put them in forbearance, giving them 6 months to find a new bank. Wendy was connected to Dave Miller, then to Mark Hansen, and Enterprise has been a reliable banking partner ever since.
Mark Hansen describes Wendy as “very determined and capable. When she lays something out she puts it in motion to make it happen. We believed in her vision when her other bank wouldn’t and she has proved herself over and over again.”
When asked how he feels seeing the success that Huckestein has had and knowing that he’s been able to play a part in it, Mark replied, “It’s very satisfying… it’s great when you can see a business owner able to stay ahead of the curve and do well after facing difficult times.”
To learn more about Huckestein Mechanical Services, Inc. you can visit them at http://www.huckestein.com.
Our Relationship Manager, Jay Murgi, had a busy weekend this past weekend. In addition to attending the Grand Opening of Voodoo Brewery’s Erie location he also attended Bella Terra Vineyards’ Grand Opening! Jay said that there was a really nice crowd to enjoy the wine and the entertainment. “There were tons of people… a lot of people brought their own lunches and had picnics,” he explained. Jay has had Bella Terra’s wine before and has always said that they have a great selection with great taste. The rain stayed away on Saturday so that the event was dry and comfortable. The band was very entertaining and the day was picturesque. To learn more about Bella Terra Vineyards you can visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bellaterravineyards/.
Voodoo Brewery had their Grand Opening of their Erie location this past weekend and it was a blast! Our relationship manager Jay Murgi attended with his RMA Evan Hayward and had a great time. The event was kept to around 50-60 people to keep it comfortable. As you can see in the pictures, Jay and Evan shared some food and they only had great things to say about it. “The bacon platter was delicious!” Jay exclaimed as soon as I asked him about the food. Both Evan and Jay were extremely impressed with both the food and the beer. If you’re interested in learning more about Voodoo Brewery at their Erie location you can visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VBErie/.
30 years ago Allen Fishman was part of his family’s business when they were sold to a regional public company. As so happens with a lot of those transactions, Allen was able to stay on for a few years as an executive and ended up attending his first board of directors meeting. Allen looked around him and saw the amazing reality of multiple intelligent people coming together to discuss business issues. He wasn’t able to utilize that when he was at the company earlier and thought to himself, “Everyone should be able to have access to a board of professionals that can help discuss business issues.” When Allen left a few years later he started The Alternative Board, also known as TAB, in Denver, Colorado. TAB has grown into a worldwide organization since then with chapters all over the country and the local Pittsburgh chapter has a strong relationship with us at Enterprise Bank. I sat down with Glenn Flickinger, owner of Pittsburgh’s TAB, to discuss TAB and what the small to medium size business owner needs to know about this company.
What TAB does is bring business owners together in a group of their peers to discuss business topics that are relevant to them. Each month, a business owner will meet with a group of their peers for approximately four hours where each member will bring up a topic they need to be counseled in. Since you meet with the same people every month you get a unique view into different companies and industries. Each board, of which there are seven at present in Pittsburgh, has a TAB coach that acts as a sort of “chairman” of the board. The TAB coach works with each business owner on an individual level but also facilitates discussion during the meeting. Glenn emphasized that the coaches are indeed coaches and not consultants. “I would never say anything negative about consultants, there’s a time and a place for them. But, consultants will leave eventually and our coaches stay with you as long as you are a member of TAB.” Each coach will go to meet with the members of their board individually once a month to develop a plan to further their business goals. The coach is also available whenever the member needs them; they’re just a phone call or an email away. Glenn discussed that even though the members they have operate across a wide range of industries, including B2C and service companies, around 85% of the topics discussed are the same. “No matter what industry you’re in you’ll tackle problems in marketing, HR, finance, and other topics,” he said. Ultimately there ends up being 200+ years of experience around that table and that is a priceless resource. Currently TAB is available in 11 other countries and Allen Fishman’s son-in-law, Jason Zickerman, is the President & CEO of the present company. Allen’s daughter is involved with the company as well in the International side of the business. TAB prides itself on being family owned and operated just like much of the companies they work with.
Glenn Flickinger is a banker by trade with experience in both commercial and investment banking in the Pittsburgh area. In 2007, he started the Pittsburgh franchise of TAB in the South Hills. In February of next year he will be celebrating 10 years in business with 68 members involved. “Something I take pride in is the fact that out of the 18 companies we started with, 10 are still members 10 years later,” he explained to me. It’s obvious that Glenn takes a lot of pride in being in such a unique business and being able to help people on a daily basis. Glenn’s role in TAB as the owner of TAB Pittsburgh is all-encompassing. Glenn facilitates and coaches two boards and also oversees all the sales and marketing efforts to recruit new members. Currently at TAB Pittsburgh there are 7 boards, 6 of which are owners boards and one which is a key executive board. The owners boards are exactly as described above while the key executive board is designed for key executives and management of companies, who are not necessarily owners. Next generation owners generally take advantage of the key executive board to gain experience before they take the reins in their company. The members of TAB come from companies that range from all sizes. The core 80-85% of companies involved in the organization are somewhere between $1 million and $20 million in size.
As we came to the end of our conversation I started wondering about how Enterprise Bank and TAB came to get to know each other. Glenn explained that one of our clients was a member of TAB and that was how he was connected to our Loan Development Officer, Dave Miller. As the years have gone on we have also found that a number of our clients are also members of TAB. When Glenn is helping one of his members get connected to financing he always introduces them to multiple banks, but Enterprise Bank is always on the list. Glenn describes his relationship with Enterprise as “very positive” when I asked him. “My members always have a good experience when they work with Enterprise. They’re experienced, knowledgeable bankers.”
My last question was to Glenn as a business owner and someone who works with business owners: What is your best advice for those looking to start a business? His response was clear and simple. “Get sound, trusted professional advice from multiple people who have been there and done that successfully,” he answered. And that’s exactly what you can do at TAB, get sound professional advice from those that are on the same path as you. To learn more about TAB Pittsburgh please visit their website at http://www.tabpittsburgh.com.
Jay and Joanna Bell are living the dream at Bella Terra Vineyards. The couple lives on 17 acres of beautiful land that they’ve transformed into a winery and weddings/events venue. Currently they are renovating the winery/tasting room and will have their grand opening on September 17, 2016. I was privileged enough to sit down with the Bells and talk to them about their experiences opening up their own business. As we started the conversation it was easy to see that the couple loves wine and honestly has a blast working every day on Bella Terra. My first question for the couple was about their motivation to be entrepreneurs and work for themselves. “The opportunity fell in our lap when we bought the property,” Joanna explains. Jay and Joanna bought their 17 acres with the idea that they wanted to capitalize on the amount of land they had. Jay has a strong background in horticulture so they knew that they wanted to do something with farming the land. As they were deciding what industry to go into they started noticing a strong demand for wine in the area and loved wine themselves. At first they were just going to have the vineyard as an added benefit to the wedding/event venue, but as they started to experiment with making their own wines they knew they had to open the winery. It was the perfect venture for them and it’s something they love doing. In regards to the wedding/event venue, currently it is an outdoor venue only, but will be expanding into a building in the next 2 years or so. The wedding/event venue was something they decided to launch because they realized that there was a shortage of places like this in the area. “The difference between getting married in a ballroom at a hotel and a barn is huge. We wanted to have something that was in between,” Joanna said.
I asked Jay and Joanna if they had faced any challenges in starting Bella Terra Vineyards. Jay smiled and started telling me about their contractor. “We had everything set up with our loan for building the wedding/event venue, redoing everything and had the contractor ready to go. Then he called us to tell us he was going out of business.” Jay said that they had to try to find a new contractor and started getting a flood of phone calls wanting the business. As they met with different contractors they started to hear a lot of new ideas about the building and different plans they could be implementing. Jay says that it turned out to be a great thing as they decided to hold off on the building for a few years and take those ideas into consideration. This way they will get a building they love right from the start. Joanna sums up the situation perfectly, “these were terrible things that made us pull out our hair… but they turned into this is what we should be doing. All of those challenges have led us to where we need to be. We don’t even see them as challenges anymore.”
As we continued our conversation I grew more and more curious about the wines themselves. All of these wines I will describe will be available to sample and purchase at their grand opening. Bella Terra has 3 dry wines for the 2015 year, the Reserve, Raspberry Cabernet, and Peridot. Their Reserve Cabernet is described as a smooth oak flavor with a peppery bite and a lingering black cherry finish. Make sure to swirl the Reserve to release all of the flavors. Their Raspberry Cabernet is a surprisingly dry fruity cab that has raspberry and blackberry flavors. Jay and Joanna say that the Raspberry Cabernet has been a surprise hit. The Peridot is a dry Riesling with zesty grapefruit and pear that is described as a mellow drink.
Bella Terra has one semi-sweet wine and 3 sweet wines for the 2015 year as well. The semi-sweet wine is called Riesling which has notes of honeydew and vanilla and is more of a classic Riesling. The sweet wines are Sunday Afternoon, Duvall, and Sweet Finley. Sunday Afternoon is sweet with notes of berry and peach and is known for its beautiful color. Duvall is slightly tart with hints of lemon and plum, and has medium notes of black cherry for balance. The last sweet wine is Sweet Finley and is their most popular wine to date. Sweet Finley has deep, rich flavors of Concord and the subtle, earthy notes of Niagara that gives a sassy and sweet all-around flavor.