Featured Success Stories of Our Certified WBEs
Speaking of success, did you know that if all the women business owners in the USA were their own country, they would be the 5th largest country in the world! Also interesting, almost 70% of the 8 million women business owners started their companies since the year 2000. (Source, CFWBR)
Meet Tammy Zimmerman of Payment Plus, Inc. in Paducah, KY
Tammy Zimmerman's approach to business can be summarized with two quotes: “The yin and yang of working with employees is to purposefully learn from talented people, and then empower them to be more than they thought they could be.” And, “I like creating things.” Ms. Zimmerman put both into practice as she started her first company as part of a team of eight, founding Nova Information Systems (now Evalon), a credit card processor. The company had investors and a global vision, and she helped take it public in 1996. “It was great fun, but a lot of pressure with no let up. You get unbalanced in life doing that for very long,” she explains, “So I made a lifestyle choice.” Thus, Payment Plus, Inc, was created in 2000, and she is the sole owner with 5 employees. The company provides software for credit card processing that allows companies to take credit payments from mobile applications, websites, API interface, and more recently iPad point-of-sale. Payment Plus, Inc. specializes in working in the business-to-business environment. They have been successful in landing large clients because they can be flexible and react faster to client requests and industry changes. After trying to get a foot in the door of a large construction equipment provider, they were in the right place at the right time when an immediate need arose. Now, that client is one of their largest. On the smaller side, Ms. Zimmerman worked with a candle manufacturer to shift to an automated credit processing solution which helped them compete with the ‘big boys;' their candles are now in Bloomingdale's. The company obtained WBE certification in 2010. “The impetus was a specific bid and joint venture opportunity. We didn't get that project, but I'm glad I had the carrot there as incentive to finish my application!” Ms. Zimmerman confesses. “We are currently focusing on other similar bids that are out there.” Understanding and acting upon industry changes is a vital part of the services Payment Plus Provides. When VISA made a change to an industry code, it was Payment Plus who alerted their client, made the change for them, and saved them money. Ms. Zimmerman is anticipating new opportunities that will come about as the EMV chips come into use, which will require different hardware and software to read the chip. Embedded EMV electronic chips will replace the magnetic strips on credit cards, because chips are more secure.
Meet Rita MacDermott of Nouveau Presentations, LLC in Scottsdale, AZ
Rita MacDermott has developed a practical business model that works well for her: reducing overhead costs by using outside contractors instead of employees to perform production services. An added benefit is that this gives her the flexibility to hire the exact expertise needed exactly when she needs it. Formed from a group of freelancers who had worked together off and on, this is a more stable arrangement yet still accommodates keeping the companies separate. “It's not only about the business model, because a lot of people would think this is the same as subcontracting, and in a way it is, Ms. MacDermott explains, “The difference is in the internal processes we use --- agreements, project tracking, team building, and communication. In the end, it's all about building and managing relationships.” Projects are all about corporate communications, in its many its forms – strategic goal setting, written, verbal, electronic, video, and events. Projects include halftime shows for the NFL, a week-long convention for Benjamin Moore Paints, and an anniversary event for The Carlson Companies that included a 900 person cast and major name speakers. Also, a “family university” cruise for Young Presidents Organization led to planning gatherings in Russia, Switzerland and Finland. Ms. MacDermott provides the executive production services, in charge of client relations, budgets, and creative development. She helps clients develop their message, such as how to present a new product to their sales team. Then, she implements the plan with technical direction, sets, graphics, script writing, video production, and live performances. Nouveau Presentations, LLC was founded in 1995, but it wasn't until 4 years ago that it became WBE-certified. Commenting on the list of procurement officers that is provided by NWBOC to every certified company, Ms. MacDermott was enthusiastic: “It has really helped me this past year. Every one of those I reached out to contacted me back and were cooperative. Some corporations on the list I'd never heard of, but a little research showed me that they were in fact worth my time. The list rocks!”
Meet Deborah Deffaa of MVS USA, Inc. in Glen Rock NJ
Deborah Deffaa always knew she wanted to work for herself. “I had a lot of ideas, but the challenge in life is harnessing them and choosing when to stop and change directions.” Her $25M company, MVS USA, Inc., provides mobile satellite communications across the globe. It is also one of the first companies to obtain WBE certification when NWBOC was formed and created the process in 1995. MVS goes where no land lines or cell phones go. Markets for active satellite communications include giants like global shipping companies, the U.S. military, and FEMA for disaster relief aid. Smaller markets include luxury yachts, Doctors Without Borders, and adventure travel companies taking fly fishermen to the ends of the world. A recent example is hurricane Sandy and how it affected Manhattan companies who were flooded out. “Their business data was backed up on servers elsewhere in the world, but that doesn't help with conducting daily communications. We provided them with communications via satellite that bypassed downed phone lines and crushed cell antennas,” Ms. Deffaa reports. In fact, the technology has progressed in the last 10 years so that instead of costing $20/minute, it is now down to $.50/minute to make a call. Satellite phones now have the capability of internet access as well. The seeds for starting MVS were rooted in the 1984 judicial decision to deregulate AT&T, ending its monopoly and opening up competition on all areas of telephony. Ms. Deffaa was doing TV production in Washington, D.C., putting together downlink centers for live satellite broadcasts, knowledge she learned by working on the job in true apprentice fashion. She then worked for a company on the West coast, writing the business plan for their satellite communications initiative which later became WorldCom. She was sent around the globe to work with American companies creating business plans for expanding to Russia, Africa and the Middle East. In 1993, she left to form her own company, MVS USA, Inc. because she saw an even greater opportunity in that government began to release the reins of control to private industry. Her first customers were some of the corporations she had worked with writing business plans; now, they were implementing the plans. Ms. Deffa recalls, “To land the first contracts it took persistence, overcoming 99 percent rejection. But you never feel sorry for yourself. Instead, you present yourself with confidence and as an equal. As a business owner you can do that. People hear it in your voice and you can go toe-to-toe with anybody.” Also key to success was her ability to write great proposals. “I have a degree in psychology from Princeton, but what really got me to where I am today is my ability to communicate well. Writing business plans, speeches, project proposals, even just business letters -- if you cannot express yourself clearly in writing, you will be ignored,” she elaborates. “This is an important way women business owners have been able to get a toe in the door. If you can get them to read the proposal, gender and age won't matter.”
Meet Amy Glass and Becky Glass of GT Events, Inc. in Los Angeles, CA
As a business owner, have you ever wished you could clone yourself to be in two places at once or to just get more accomplished in a day? Identical twin sisters Amy Glass and Becky Glass seem to have done exactly that. “We are literally the same person in two bodies,” quips Becky, “but we do have preferences that balance out nicely for running the business. Amy works with clients up front, brainstorming ideas and with contract negotiations. I do the office management and troubleshooting. We both do sales.” GT Events, Inc. was founded in 2002 after both Amy and Becky experienced success as spokespersons, working for staffing agencies. Amy says, “We were good at it, so we were always booked. At the point when we were giving lots of referrals away to actor friends of ours, it dawned on us that this could be the start of our own event staffing business. So that's what we did. We got our business license the very next day.” It helped that both women had previously earned marketing degrees from Rutgers University, and had many industry contacts. GT Events, Inc. is an experiential marketing agency. In the beginning the company primarily providing staffing for events that required gregarious, model-type people who are good communicators to represent the client's product or brand to the public. Typically, events promote consumer goods such as cars, mobile phones, or tennis shoes in venues such as festivals, on-the-street promotions, or conventions. The Glass sisters have expanded services to include what the industry calls “brand tours,” in which a mobile promotion sets up in multiple geographic areas over a period of time. The company offers complete event management, including production, execution, logistics, and staffing. The company has 20 employees. “Our target client is an ad agency or in-house marketing department that handles brand management. We get to work with the top creatives at both the agency and the corporation, which is exciting,” Becky says. “Every day is different, and we love it that way.” Earlier this year they handled the roll-out of Windows 8 in partnership with 206, Inc. and Southwest Airlines for a promotion in 23 terminals. GT Events, Inc. obtained WBE certification from NWBOC in 2009, and the utilize the WBE logo as part of their sales pitch, on the website, and printed on company materials. Their target clientele express that they want to work with a woman-owned agency, and say that it is good to know GT Events is WBE certified.
Meet Molli Wingert of Secure Data Sanitization, LLC in Boise, ID
Who knew the ripple effect of getting a new computer would be having to deal with serious issues relating to getting rid of your old hard drive? This has become a headache for millions of businesses, large and small. No longer can you simply delete data and throw the unit in the trash, or donate it to your local charity. Every day, hackers and thieves are able to extract the data from hard drives for the purpose of identity theft. In response, dozens of government agencies now have strict regulations about how you must treat old hard drives that contain personal data. For Molli Wingert, a business pain point signals an opportunity for creating a business to solve it. Secure Data Sanitization, LLC, born in 2007, provides hard drive sanitization to keep corporations, non-profits, schools, healthcare providers, banks, and even small businesses in compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations. The stakes can be huge: Blue Cross is currently embroiled in a $17.5M FTC investigation related to improperly handling the data on 57 old hard drives. Secure Data Sanitization provides its customers with a $5M insurance policy against ever having a claim related to data from that hard drive. Unique to the industry, the company also provides mobile, on-site data sanitation. “Even if shipping the hard drives, the company remains liable. The minute you take the old computers down, FTC prefers you have a third party come in and sanitize the hard drives. Storing old hard drives for months in a closet is potential dynamite for a company,” Ms. Wingert says, “because 80% of data theft happens within a corporation.” Secure Data Sanitization also has a high-security vault in which they process 300 hard drives daily . . . which begs the question of what to do with 600,000 hard drives every year? The intriguing answer is that Ms. Wingert had previously founded a non-profit called Computers for Kids in 2002. It began when Ms. Wingert purchased two pallets of old computers for $40, refurbished and got 11 of them working. “I gave one to my son and the rest to his friends. The next thing you know the Boise school district offered 1500 more computers. So we grew 600% each year for the first 7 years. We went from my garage to 8000 square feet,” she recalls. The non-profit is an authorized Microsoft refurbisher and has distributed 29,300 refurbished computers to kids. The for-profit and non-profit entities have a symbiotic relationship. Corporations are glad to have a trusted source wipe their old hard drives, and pleased that much of the older computer parts will be re-used. The result is kids get computers, businesses get a tax write-off, and Secure Data Sanitization gets a happy client. The company received WBE certification immediately after it began, and it is a positive credit for most corporations. This year expansion included opening new offices in Las Vegas, NV.
Meet Joanne Caccamisi of Central Food Equipment in Lakeland, FL
Joanne Caccamisi is President and sole owner of Central Food Equipment, a 35-year-old family business that supplies commercial kitchen equipment. It was founded by her father-in-law, and subsequently her husband was the President and CEO. She worked in the business for six years with him, assisting with company financials. “We set up my desk in his office. It's amazing what you pick up regarding everyday business: who is who, selling and ordering equipment, juggling the delivery schedule , collections, and hearing him have conference calls with the Excell buying group,” Ms. Caccamisi remembers. Unbeknownst to her at the time, she was absorbing industry knowledge and leadership skills that would be vital as she – and the company -- coped with losing her husband to cancer in 2009. “It wasn't a decision of whether to sell or not; I just stepped in and got to work. The economy had just hit the downward spiral, so how can you sell a business in that environment? It would have been a fire sale. I just couldn't do that to the employees, some of whom had been with the company 15 years or more,” Ms. Caccamisi explains. “It is true, I felt like I was living my husband's life for a time, but also realized I didn't have the luxury of just keeping the status quo.” The company's mainstay was supplying new, large commercial kitchens – the very clients who were hit hardest. So over the past several years, Ms. Caccamisi has made changes to business processes such as online ordering for large chain customers, and expanding the smaller, local accounts like churches, Mom & Pop's and the home shopper. Equipment projects continue with assisted living facilities, for example. Also, she changed the financial terms from providing equipment purchase financing to referring her clients to an equipment leasing company. In this way, Ms. Caccamisi ensures she will receive payment in full in 30 days – a change critical to cash flow and company stability. The company regularly beats competition from the biggest suppliers, like Sysco. “We are an upbeat group and are passionate about the food industry, our customers like knowing who they are talking to on the phone. They can count on us,” she adds. The company is in a growth mode again, gaining 20% last year. The company has only been WBE certified for about 18 months, and they are learning how to best utilize it. Certainly, it is something publicly-owned client companies ask for, and it sets the company apart in a competitive field.
Meet Janet Emerson Bashen of Bashen Corporation in Houston, TX
Ebony Magazine certainly took notice of Janet Emerson Bashen, and named her one 2012 Power 100 List of the nation's most influential African Americans, along with Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama. It has been 18 years since Ms. Bashen founded Bashen Corporation, an HR Consulting firm with a market niche in Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) compliance. In 2006, Ms. Bashen received a patent for her EEO claims management software invention. Bashen's staff consists of employment attorneys and human resources professionals. Clients have included some of the nation's most prominent publicly traded corporations, federal agencies, Fortune 500 companies, and many more. The company works with employers by providing impartial investigations regarding claims of discrimination. Bashen drafts position statements based only on facts. If there is merit to a claim, Bashen Corporation works with the company and the EEOC to find a resolution. Bashen Corporation has investigated over 20,000 such complaints, the most visible being the Lilly Ledbetter case. Homeland Security is Bashen's biggest client, and the EEOC has hired Bashen on occasion to investigate the EEOC's own complaints. The idea to start a consulting business with this focused expertise came to Ms. Bashen when she was working as an adjustor managing general liability claims. As one of the few black female workers in the department, co-workers came to rely on her for her insight and respected her opinions on cases where discrimination played a part. “So I began to research the idea of starting a business that could provide this type of expertise,” she recalls. “My degree is in legal studies and I thought I wanted to go into politics. Instead, here I am as a business owner and I love it.” Ms. Bashen notes that access to decision-makers and being visible in the market are the biggest hurdles in the business world. One instance Ms. Bashen recalled is her CNN interview. Ms. Bashen called CNN in New York, posing as her own assistant. At that time, the big Denny's restaurant customer, discrimination complaints were in full swing, and she was successful in landing a CNN interview. She acquired Shoney's, Home Depot and the former Bell Atlantic as customers from that exposure. Bashen Corporation has had WBE certification for many years. It began as a way to help get the word out about her new company; it was a logical word-of-mouth marketing step to work with and speak for minority and women-focused groups. “Early on, I was advised to just use an initial instead of my first name to keep the fact I was female a little less obvious. Then we started to see an acceptance of women as bona-fide business owners, and WBE certification helped bridge that conceptual change,” Ms. Bashen says. “Now, I fully embrace my status as a woman-owned business.”
Meet Brenda Craig of Craig Safety Technologies, Inc. in Kansas City, MO
Did you know that there were 6,125 federal proposed regulations . . . that were new or changed in the past ninety days? Generally speaking, lots of federal regulations that change all the time create a bureaucratic nightmare for most affected companies. Not so for Brenda Craig; she has built her company around the idea that with the right software and the right implementation, even small and medium-sized companies can be assured they are compliant with the tens of thousands of federal regulations. Begun primarily as OSHA health and safety training, Ms. Craig has expanded the capabilities to include DOT, EPA and MSHA. Called the Compliance Safety Manager, it is a patented, cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model. From a single dashboard, business owners can manage all safety-related regulations regarding personnel and asset management. Clients include construction companies, limousine companies, electrical contractors, and food distributors. One example is the Salvation Army who has a fleet of trucks, so the DOT rules apply to them. Part of being compliant is maintaining current and accurate records. Examples include truck warranties and maintenance, driver information, log books, alert for license renewals and physicals ready to expire, insurance, safety training and testing, tracking gasoline credit cards and company cell phones, and operational audits. “In fact,” Ms. Craig points out, “we are now able to provide true operational analytics so managers can quickly understand what is happening on a job site, or in their facility, or out on the road.”
The company works with clients who have gotten sideways with DOT due to incomplete records, missing audits, or any number of pitfalls. “We get them back in service,” she says. When asked who her competition is, Ms. Craig says “primarily spreadsheets. Fleet management software is out there, but that is all they do. Personnel software is also out there but that is all they do. Warehouse and equipment software is out there, but that is all they do. We combine safety and risk management of people and equipment and operations.” The company has had WBE certification for two years. Ms. Craig notes that especially in the oil, gas, and mining industries, minority and women vendor participation is starting to happen. This should bode well for Craig Safety Technologies, a company that has managed to get everything in place for growth.
Meet Laurie Hicks of ISS, LLP in Alpharetta, GA
When you have established 3 bank charters, worked for the FDIC closing failed banks, been the auditor for Holiday Inn Worldwide – what do you do next? If you are Laurie Hicks, you establish a software company. And then build power plants worldwide. This is a true story. Established 18 years ago, Information Solution Services, Inc. (now ISS, LLP) originally provided software development services to the telecom industry. Great opportunities arose from the Bell Telephone system being broken up into the ‘baby Bells.” Ms. Hicks recognized this and built a company around it: there was an urgent need for software that allowed the burgeoning telecom market to interface with the baby Bell central offices. Hiring highly qualified employees with the industry expertise she lacked, Ms. Hicks was able to secure one project after another creating financial tracking software, networks, etc. Over time, the scope of the projects expanded so that ultimately her company provided software and installation of equipment for 540 central offices, nationwide. The next leap came when her established customers wished for alternative solutions to GE or Seimens for designing and building power plants. Ms. Hicks knew she had long-time employees with track records as electrical engineers who could design plants, select equipment, and installation. So, once again she was able to expand her company's services. “Our pricing was much more competitive, in part because we have a lot less people working on the project than a huge corporation, yet our expertise is broader in many instances,” Ms. Hicks explains. “In today's market, employees from huge corporations have narrow expertise in one area; there is no variety in thought or approach. Our approach is effective because it is dynamic, relying on the vast history across numerous areas of expertise. We put these people together.” Success has led them to projects in Dubai, South Africa, and the Caspian Sea. The company obtained NWBOC's WBE certification within the first few years. “It has been such a great benefit for us in several ways -- for landing contracts, subcontracting, and partnering with other companies,” Ms. Hicks says. “But of course, there is nothing that will take the place of performance! You have to be competitive, provide excellent products and services.” Currently, typical clients are exploration companies, oil and gas companies, and utilities. Now, however, they are about to return to their roots in going back to telecom companies. This time, IIS, LLC will be offering them a better solution for their power needs when utilities go down, including controls that capture data to prevent complete loss of power in the first place, as well as better solutions for diesel back-up generators.
Meet Nancy Wahl-Scheurich of LittleFootprint Lighting, Inc. in Santa Cruz, CA
The name of the company says it all: LittleFootprint connotes a small carbon footprint, and Lighting, specifically LED, is their specialty. Owner Nancy Wahl-Scheurich took a leap of faith and started her green-friendly company in 2009. The company manufactures – in the USA -- LED task lighting from recycled materials. Their first product, an LED desk lamp, has earned the ENERGY STAR for meeting qualifications as an energy-saving product, as well as high standards for light output, color temperature and brightness. In fact, it is the only desk lamp made in the USA that currently has this designation under the latest and most stringent ENERGY STAR specification. The lamp is made of 89% recycled e-waste (from old computers and printers) and recycled steel. Ms. Wahl-Scheurich made the decision to get WBE certification from NWBOC after doing research online. She is excited about a recent partnership she has forged with another woman-owned company. This came about because LittleFootprint Lighting was denied getting on the GSA schedule due to company size and start-up sales history. However, using the GSA's suggestions, Ms. Wahl-Scheurich was able to team with a like-minded company already on the schedule, and can list her lamp product on their schedule. The added benefit here is that every dollar she is able to sell to the government can now be counted towards LittleFootprint Lighting's own government sales history. In this way she can build her company size to be able to one day qualify for her own GSA schedule. Not a bad idea for other small start-ups to consider. Ms. Wahl-Scheurich's background is in international marketing and sales, and she speaks several languages. She is passionate about the environment and is LEED Accredited Professional (AP). In going through classes to prepare for the LEED AP exam, she learned that points are given in different categories in LEED evaluations. She learned about three possible points - for energy savings, for using recycled materials, and for giving individuals more control over their own lighting. “I immediately thought, ‘Why isn't anybody making an LED desk lamp from recycled plastic?' That's how the idea for the company was born,” she reports. “Today, we are selling more through retail than I had anticipated, and some large direct orders from LEED building owners and the hospitality industry are expected to come through in the next few months.”
Meet Tonia Deal of Tonia Deal Consultants in Hudson, OH
Tonia Deal Consultants, founded 20 years ago, is an executive recruiting firm specializing in providing purchasing and supply chain management personnel. Looking back on it, owner Tonia Deal's path to entrepreneurship was a logical progression of corporate career experience parlayed into a business model based on her industry knowledge. Key to her current success is her continuing contact, over literally decades, with colleagues from her early jobs. “I've grown up with these guys; they were green buyers then, but now they are some of the top buyers in both the USA and all over the world – Asia, Singapore, China, Europe,” Ms. Deal relates. “For instance, when I was recruiting for the Director of Purchasing for Navistar International, I regularly talked with 400 people from the big three – GM, Chrysler and Ford. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was building a solid base of personal industry contacts that I would utilize the rest of my life.” Today, Tonia Deal Consultants is ranked as one of the top three supply chain recruiting firms in the world, by Supply Chain Management Association. The company obtained WBE certification from NWBOC ten years ago. “We appreciate that the NWBOC process is very thorough in every step, and therefore it shows the certification is real, and it recognized as such.” “Having WBE certification has been a huge plus for us; it has absolutely been a very intricate part of my business,” Ms. Deal explains. “One example is a new client we landed in a very competitive process – there were literally hundreds of proposals that had poured in. Without my WBE certification, we would have been just another RFP response, so I believe it set us apart. That client is now long-term and exclusive with us because we have performed so well for them.” The big recruiting firms are her competitors, but Tonia Deal Consultants is known for providing the highest levels of service, including special attention to matching recruits with company culture. Not surprisingly, word-of-mouth is their primary marketing tool.
Meet Marsha Newberry of Signature Contract Services, LLC in Grand Prairie, TX
Marsha Newberry started early in business; getting her real estate license at age 18 was only the beginning. Her first company provided property management of rental homes; today her construction company, Signature Contracting Services, LLC, grosses over $16M annually. In between Ms. Newberry owned companies as diverse as a gas station (“My dad owned one when I was growing up, so I knew something about it.”) In addition to gasoline, the station also offered pizza and dry cleaning. With that idea, she was far ahead of her time: this was long before today's consolidated convenience stores and fast food joints. She also owned a printing company, a mortgage company, and extensively worked with builders and investors as a partner in land development of multi-family residential housing. All of these companies she started from scratch, either as a sole owner or with partners. Signature Contracting Services, LLC provides infrastructure and groundwork services, primarily subcontracting to general contractors and government. The company began with a specialty in landscaping, but now also provides trenching, electrical conduit installation, concrete pads, retention walls, and manholes. In addition, Ms. Newberry has taken advantage of opportunities to expand by creating a telecom division that services residential customers, and a commercial fencing division. In fact, it was her company that installed the El Paso / Mexico fence across 7.5 miles of channel water in 10 days. Currently the company has the contract to clean out the San Antonio River Walk and provide erosion control. “Our WBE certification has helped us tremendously!,” Ms. Newberry emphatically says, “This company was started only six years ago with an annual revenue of only $40,000.” One of the strategic decisions she made was to search out and target general contractors who had their own supplier diversity programs internal to the company and not just driven by government requirements on specific projects. “Kiewit is an example of a general contractor that does it the right way. They have the best utilization over all their jobs, and other essential things like job site safety. We work with them all the time,” she says.
Meet Melanie Nelson of Learning ZoneXpress, Inc. in Owatonna, MN
On June 2, 2011, the USDA retired the well-known “food pyramid,” replacing it with a new image called “My Plate.” This announcement created an opportunity: Melanie Nelson's company, Learning ZoneXpress, Inc. was the first company in the country to come out with posters and other support materials to educate the public about the new My Plate approach. “We had it to the printer within 24 hours,” Ms. Nelson explains, “because we had the expertise to do so. We were already leaders in our industry segment.” Learning ZonExpress, Inc. has a fairly narrow niche of creating and supplying public health educational materials to government, healthcare, and educational settings. Each year the company creates and produces 100-200 new products addressing a wide range of community health issues such as nutrition, anorexia, stress management, child development, and life skills. This year, the USDA has a mandate for school educational components when students walk through the lunch line. So, the company created a unique whiteboard designed to clearly show which food group the lunch item they are about to eat that day falls into. Other new products include retractable banners with visual impact for portable nutrition education. Prior to founding her company 15 years ago, Ms. Nelson was a school teacher. Building on her knowledge about what works in a school setting, the company produces videos that are classroom friendly and colorful posters that appeal to target age groups. “Our claim to fame is our high-quality posters. Ours is the ‘gold standard' because of our research and design process, our specialized food photography,” she says. “We invest a great deal into producing high quality looking products, and it's paying off with loyal customers.” Company growth proves Ms. Nelson is right: the company now has a catalog of over 1600 products, sales are up 44% this year, and annual revenues are $6.2M. Her reaction? “I'm thrilled! It allows me to do two things: give back to the local community through donations, and we are just beginning plans to expand internationally.” The company has had WBE certification only 2 years, and Ms. Nelson readily admits she is still learning how to best utilize it for her company. “So far, we've operated in a very ground-up way, building personal relationships. Utilizing the certification gives us another approach in a more top-down way.” With her prior wisdom in running the company, we're betting she will figure it out in a unique way.
Meet Diana Wright of The Right Solutions in Tontitown, AR
Diana Wright's life story is an amazing testament about surviving – no, not just surviving but wildly prospering – against all odds, all statistics. In a desperately poor and chaotic home life, dropping out of high school due to prolonged illness of her mother . . . most stories would have ended there. Instead, Ms. Wright got her GED and with work study grants was able to move out on her own at age 17 and attend and complete college. She became a successful RN, and at age 26 became an Assistant Director of Nurses in charge of scheduling for the entire hospital. She recalls seeing a 1985 chart predicting a severe nursing shortage by 2000, which inspired her to get her MBA degree in certified in healthcare quality and nursing administration. She then started her own company with partners, sold that one and started a second one, which is her current company, The Right Solutions.
Ms. Wright conceived the idea of providing nurses on a temporary basis to ease the hospital scheduling challenges that were sure to come with nursing shortages. She was a pioneer her industry, since temp nursing agencies did not exist in the 1980's and early 1990s. The company provides every aspect of nursing and healthcare personnel in a hospital setting, except for doctors and pharmacists. Typical assignments last 13 weeks, and the company does no permanent staffing. The company is well respected and scores an unheard-of 100% on the industry's Joint Commission Audits. The company obtained WBE certification 3 years ago, and Ms. Wright says, “We use it on everything, our federal schedule, website, government bids. We should probably have gotten it earlier, but I'm glad to have it now.” The Right Solutions has 60 employees and 290 nurses on contract nationwide. Over the years Ms. Wright has developed distinctive, practical internal processes for running her company. For hiring nurses, she looks for specific personal qualities beyond the obvious credentials, certifications, and nursing experience. For personnel squabbles, she nips it in the bud with a ‘process review' in which all parties are included, documented, and plans made to keep it from happening again. “I have almost zero conflict to deal with as a result. For managing through a downturn in business, it is all about loyalty and inspiring 110% effort. She said to her employees, “I am dedicating myself to you to turn this thing around – but I need you to stay hang in there with me, and give me what you did 2 years ago.” The response was, “If we have to turn out the lights, I'll work beside you in the dark.” The company did turn around.
Meet Patricia Stagno, of Powerskills for Life, LLC in Goffstown, NH
A can-do attitude coupled with being open to opportunities that came her way – this describes Patricia Stagno and how she came to establish a start-up company, Powerskills for Life, LLC. The company provides training in safety, compliance, technical, and operations equipment for gas and utility industries, as well as related construction companies. While the company's specialty is electrical substations, they are also experts in solar, wind power, hydro electric, gas turbines, transmission and distribution. In addition, Powerskills for Life also provides training for OSHA government audits, inspections, and compliance. The training is customized to the needs of each client. Ms. Stagno took a circuitous route to where she is today. Initially trained as an X-Ray technician and working in a Boston emergency room for 10 years, Ms. Stagno enlisted in the Navy. Expecting to work in a hospital when finishing basic training, she was surprised to discover that the “HT' abbreviation on her enlistment contract stood for hull technician and not hospital technician. “Hey, I'll give it a try,” she remembers, “So instead of wearing scrubs, I wore a fire-proof coverall and began to learn how to weld.” She made a success of her 8-year military career, climbed in rank quickly. Again being open to new opportunities, she applied for many jobs and took one at Boston Edison that required her to work in manholes. She was the only woman at the time to do so. Her successful 15-year career there led her into supervisor training and safety. In 2007 when the utility she was working for at that time re-organized, her position was eliminated and the job market was bleak. Instead of searching, she decided to build on her good reputation of safety training and launch her company at age 45. All work has come to her word-of-mouth, and to her knowledge she is the only female business owner in the nation providing this particular expertise in a hands-on way. To her credit, she has created 4 new jobs in a down market. Ms. Stagno obtained her WBE certification in 2008. “This is probably one of the last industries in which women are so scarce,” she says, “and having the certification has helped to give my company legitimacy to potential clients who don't know me yet. Ultimately, though, we get the work because we are good.” Partnering with other companies has helped Ms. Stagno go after larger contracts, and has also given her a steady stream of subcontracting jobs. Someday Ms. Stagno might consider selling the company, but for now her focus is on closing the next contract and providing top-notch safety-related training.
Meet Tracy Dempsey of Express Employment Professionals, San Rafael, CA
Tracy Dempsey's company is the embodiment of how a successful franchise should look, be, and perform. Ms. Dempsey's impetus for starting the company was her desire to reconnect with her home state and community after being gone for 25 years, and to be in a position to provide tangible help to people. As President of Express Employment Professionals, she has done that and more. Her 30-year background in corporate management and her natural talent for working with people gave her the insight and professional expertise to launch her own HR firm. “Actually, we are professional matchmakers. Of course we match skills and experience, but key to our success is also matching company culture. We match good jobs with good people,” Ms. Dempsey explains. The company byline, Respecting People and Impacting Business, is what caught her attention when doing her due diligence and research on franchises. “It is an accurate portrayal of company strategy and practical approach,” she says. The company primarily works in a consultative way with small and medium sized businesses. When asked for an example of making a difference, Ms. Dempsey recalls the story of one couple who were each out of work. The husband was being interviewed at her office when he overheard part of a phone conversation that caught his attention. It was about a job opening that required specific construction software knowledge that his wife had. Within the week, they both were hired. Later, Ms. Dempsey discovered the couple had been living in their car at the time. Now, they are in a house and doing well. “This is a joyful way to live your life,” Ms. Dempsey observes. Having her WBE certification has definitely been useful in setting her company apart, in particular getting her foot in the door with one government entity she had been trying to secure for three years. Future plans could be expansion geographically, because Ms. Dempsey also holds the first right of refusal for the franchise both north (Sonoma) and south (upper San Francisco) of her current location.
Meet Helene Abrams of eprentise, LLC in Orlando, FL
Before Helene Abrams: It used to be that the cost of implementing enterprise systems would skyrocket shortly after the implementation because the systems were difficult to change as the business changed. To accommodate spin-offs, mergers, acquisitions, or opening into new markets with different statutory or regulatory requirements, the database had to be fundamentally re-worked. Therefore, implementation literally took years and cost tens of millions of dollars. After Helene Abrams: Because of her patented software that consolidates diverse databases and software that allows changes to basic setups and structures, large IT implementation projects using Oracle® E-Business Suite (EBS) are more predictable, faster, and certainly less expensive. Her company, eprentise, LLC, is changing the industry. Ms. Abrams founded eprentise in 2006 bringing with her over two decades of deep expertise in EBS implementations, a strong background in relational database design, executive experience with large System Integrators, and a career in the corporate environment. She was the first EBS consultant at Oracle Corporation in 1988, and at Deloitte & Touché, LLP, she started the first ERP practice in the any of the big eight consulting firms. She also brought lessons learned from a prior attempt in 2001 at establishing a similar company that ended as a result of a bad venture deal. Her customers are Fortune 500 companies in 110 countries, covering 13 times zones. This she does with only 10 employees on payroll. “I use a B2B model in that everything is outsourced. Many of the sales people are contractors working on commission only; marketing, website design, and many administrative office functions are all done through contracts with other businesses. You don't need to have a huge staff, and it is easier to scale up (or down) as demand changes,” Ms. Abrams explains. Yet she has managed to remain very hands-on, and is personally involved in every sale.
Even though her company is well-known in the Oracle arena, she felt the need to obtain WBE certification to help her corporate clients meet their supplier utilization goals and report it on government contracts for added credibility and program goals. The company was WBE-certified in 2007. Ms. Abrams has been a visible speaker at IT conferences for 22 years, and has earned the trust of the industry's biggest names. Ms. Abrams says with a smile, “I'm loving every minute of it!”
Meet Jennifer Scully of Clinical Resources, LLC in Atlanta, GA
Jennifer Scully knows how to make connections. In fact, she used contacts made in her prior executive-level employment as a springboard for founding her company, Clinical Resources, LLC. When the healthcare provider she had worked for sold in 2006, and Ms. Scully started receiving calls from people asking if she could help them find work. “I realized my Rolodex could be turned into a business,” she recalls. Clinical Resources LLC is a staffing and executive search company serving the healthcare industry. Clients include hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living, electronic medical record companies, pharmacy, schools, and home health. The company is expanding and moving into related markets like school nursing. “We received our WBE certification from NWBOC in 2010, and one thing we learned is that you have to use it as a tool, and work at selling. Tell your customers about it; educate them on the importance of working with women business owners and they become much more intrigued, if they weren't already.” The company has successfully partnered with a national company, due to their WBE certification. “We partnered with ManPower to service the UPS account,” Ms. Scully says. “And had it not been for our WBE certification, we would not have even been a blip on the radar screen for good clients like Adecco, American Red Cross, and probably others.” She states that she spent probably 10 years trying to get a foot in the door at huge companies, and that her certification turned out to be the best way to do that. “It's like having a Good Housekeeping stamp of approval!” states Ms. Scully.
Meet Jocelyn Smith, CEO, and Barbara McGraw, CMO of Infinitee Communications, Inc in Atlanta, GA
Founders Jocelyn Smith and Barbara McGraw defy the odds. Being a successful 50/50 business partnership for more than 20 years puts them in a unique club. They met while working at different companies specializing in marketing when Barbara was a client of Jocelyn's. When the department Jocelyn worked for was closed, both women decided that was an opportunity to create their own business. “This could be the best thing that ever happened to us,” Ms. Smith said. The company initially specialized in shopping center marketing, and then quickly added other real estate clients including commercial and residential developers. Over the years they have diversified to include financial, education, healthcare, manufacturing and destination marketing companies to their client list. “A clear division of responsibilities has kept us working together happily for all these years,” says Ms. Smith. Her priorities are sales and marketing for the agency while Ms. McGraw's focus is creative strategy and brand management. Both owners love the creativity details and work hands-on daily with clients. They grew the multi-million dollar agency while they cared for their families, both working mothers with young children. “Our successful partnership has been very rewarding both professionally and personally,” added Ms. McGraw. The company became WBE certified 4 years ago. “It was an arduous process to complete the certification, but I'm glad we did,” stated Ms. Smith. The company website features the NWBOC logo, and has a special page about marketing to women. “We have developed a reputation for knowing how to market to women, and even the brands that market to a mixed demographic appreciate our female perspective. It can be a great advantage when developing their strategy,” Ms. Smith points out. Regarding future plans, both owners agree that they would like to triple their business while maintaining their team culture. Their daughters, age 20 and 23, have worked part-time in the company, so who knows; maybe this unique partnership will carry on with the next generation.
Meet Delaine Mead of Relocation Services and Valuebiz in Charlotte, NC
Delaine Mead has a knack for recognizing and responding to market niches. Ms. Mead's background in commercial investment and corporate finance has served her well; she is adept at making business choices based on risk assessment. The key is that all of Ms. Mead's companies intersect: Beginning with a real estate holding company that she grew nationwide, alongside she also started a real estate agency to handle the contracts and closings. With the holding company's commercial properties came requests from lessees for referrals regarding good places to buy office furniture. So, in 2005 Ms. Mead purchased Valuebiz business furnishings to meet that need. Then, true to form, Ms. Mead was listening when her Valuebiz clients asked repeatedly for help when moving offices. At the time, it was normal for each commercial furniture provider to move and rebuild only the brands they carry, making it a nightmare to move an entire office. This was the genesis a year later for founding Relocation Strategies, LLC – a company that procures and manages all facets of client relocation needs. Services include finding a suitable location, build-out, decommissioning and relocating every item in the office. Ms. Mead obtained WBE certification for both companies in 2007. “Clearly, this is one of the best things I ever did for the businesses, I shout it loud and proud,” she says. “My strategy was to diversify and capitalize on as much market share as possible, and being WBE certified is one way to set up apart.”
Meet Nancy Matijasich of Manifest Solutions Corp. in Upper Arlington, OH
Since 1994 Manifest has provided information technology consulting and staffing. For large companies staffing includes business analysts, project management, developer/architects. For smaller companies, Manifest acts as a virtual IT department providing server clean-up, cabling, budgeting, and writing custom software. Manifest has a unique approach to IT in that they bring a management perspective to the owner-operators, to help them understand how IT can be used as a tool make money, instead of always being thought of as an expensive headache. “Most IT providers don't tell you what your systemic problems are, they just keep coming back to fix what breaks, rather than tell you how to keep it from breaking in the first place,” says owner Nancy Matijasich. That systemic approach is also what sets their training courses apart. The company utilizes an experiential learning model in which client's employees learn using real-life company projects and software. The training happens over 10 weeks instead of cramming one-size-fits-all curricula into a one-day session. Ms. Matijasich uses her WBE certification as an add-on rather than as a leader, and consciously seeks out local women- and minority-owned firms as suppliers. “I'm a partnering type of person and would love to find comparable company to partner with to go after larger projects.”
Meet Alison Brown of Encompass, LLC in Grand Rapids, MI
ENCOMPASS, LLC was established in an unusual way. Since 1989, Alison Brown managed an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for a large health care system. Dr. Brown approached her employer with the proposal that she turn the EAP service line into a private-sector company that she would own as well as continue to provide the services. Thus, ENCOMPASS, LLC was born in 2000 and has quadrupled in size since then.EAPs are becoming an ever more important part of an employee benefit program. Different from healthcare insurance, EAPs provide confidential assistance directly to employees to address any issues (that are not necessarily medical related) that may affect their ability to perform optimally at work. One example is personal issues such as family conflict resolution. In addition, soft skills training is provided for management personnel like holding people accountable in an appropriate manner. ENCOMPASS, LLC became WBE certified in 2005. “Larger organizations appreciate that I have WBE certification, Dr. Brown states, “and they have found that using M/WBE companies brings them an especially committed supplier in terms of quality. In our case, we bring a clear return on minimal investment as HR departments are running leaner than ever and many employers no longer have the in-house training expertise that we bring to the table.”
Meet Connie Banks of CBT, Inc. in Oakwood, GA
Connie Banks is the founder and sole owner of CBT, Inc., a logistics company. Building on her background in the industry as a shipper and broker, Ms. Banks started her company in 1989. Then, even more than today, the logistics industry was very male-dominated; yet Ms. Banks has been able to guide her company through 23 years of success. CBT, Inc. specializes in hauling for the food service giants who supply grocery stores, schools, and institutions. The company provides both refrigerated and dry trucks. In addition, they also provide hauling services for some of the largest poultry and egg producers in the area.
“We move it safely, damage-free, and on time,” says Ms. Banks. “This is due to the fact that we are a family-owned business so we care about the details. Most of our logistics experts have been with the company for over 10 years, some 15 years. So there is a lot of stability built-in.” “I always say we are 100% woman-owned,” Ms. Banks says. “It is on our website and the company is known be to WBE certified.”
Meet Judy Graff of Paralegal Resource Center, Inc. in Denver, CO
As the sole owner of Paralegal Resource Center, Inc., Judy Graff credits part of her early success with being among the first-to-market: specialty staffing companies for the legal community was a new idea 26 years ago. “I started by contracting myself out, calling every attorney I knew, including being hired on contract back to my prior employer,” she states. Today the company provides temporary and permanent staffing for very size of law firm, from the very small to the largest. The company stands out by being people-oriented and focusing on client needs, which ensures the match of candidate and employer is the best possible. Ms. Graff mentions that “we get high compliments from our clients, and we don't waste their time.” The company also stands out by utilizing its WBE certification on the website and marketing materials. Asked about the future, Ms. Graff says that she will eventually retire, but for now she still gets a charge out of making a great match and making a difference in people's lives by helping them. “I'm on cloud nine; I love this job.” Even after all these years.
Meet Michell Massey of Massey Tuckpointing and Masonry, LLC in St. Louis, MO
Michell Massey started her company in 2002 after identifying a market niche for masonry services, primarily in the residential area. “St. Louis has a lot of older homes with brick chimneys, and they eventually have to be repaired or replaced. We also get about 25% of our business from commercial clients, such as St. Louis University, which has a campus full of brick and stone buildings,” Massey says. The company provides repair, tuck-pointing, and replacement services. Most recently Massey has landed a $6M, 2-year project with the Metro Sewer District, by partnering with another company. The partnership came about as a direct result of Massey obtaining WBE certification, which helped get her company noticed by the right people at the right time. The company is growing, up about 35% from last year, and it recently received the “Super Service Award” from Angie's List, the online services referral website.
Meet Diana Klimek of Inductor Supply, Inc. in Huntington Beach, CA
Diana Klimek started her company 30 years ago along with two partners; today, and since 1995, she is the sole owner. Inductor Supply, Inc. manufactures electronic components that are used in everything from microwave products, to telecommunications, to pizza ovens. Marketing her company in a business-to-business environment, Klimek has been able to take advantage of the company's good name recognition that has stood the test of time. In fact, Klimek has been able to grow her company even in a recession, with current sales higher than in the past 5 years. “We have kept our quality up to our high standards, which has helped us outlast competitors who have closed their doors,” she said. An important part of Klimek's marketing strategy is having the NWBOC certification logo on the company website. Klimek says that about 20% of their sales is a direct result of being woman-owned and having NWBOC's certification. Klimek has a PhD in Business Psychology, and conducts numerous seminars and consulting sessions for large companies, like Boeing. She also supports other women business owners by conducting workshops and with mentoring activities.
Meet Laura Havens, Havens & Company, Inc. in Naples, FL
In 2007 Laura Havens formed Havens & Company, Inc., a Naples, Florida-based employee benefits firm employee benefits that are non-medical. Havens and her team deliver objective advice and technical expertise to employers seeking the finest life, accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D), disability, dental, executive benefit, prescription drug, and vision programs.
"By being NWBOC certified, Havens & Company is positioned to align with corporate clients and insurers in fulfilling their strategic supplier diversity goals," said Havens. The company was recently selected by IBM to participate in their Executive Mentor Protege Program. Only a handful of other companies was invited to participate. Future plans for Havens include marketing a robust employee benefit solution which promotes the aggregation of various types of employee benefit plans so that clients can leverage the economies of scale brought to bear by Havens & Company's large client base.
Meet Liz Lasater, Red Arrow Logistics
Liz After two decades in senior management positions at top global supply chain companies, Liz Lasater felt that there was a need in the market to provide a higher level of customer service for companies with complex supply chain needs. So, in 2003, she started Red Arrow Logistics in Issaquah, WA to focus solely on those markets with complex, high value and time sensitive needs which require a level of finesse and customer service. "Certification has opened a lot of doors for us and allowed us to forge stronger and more meaningful relationships with some of our most strategic customers who are also committed to retaining a diverse supplier base," said Lasater. "Red Arrow Logistics tracks it's spending with diverse suppliers and is proud of the track record we have in supporting under-utilized businesses." Under Lasater's leadership Red Arrow Logistics is expanding its international footprint to provide full services for customers to, from
and within Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Meet Jennifer Bartels, pH R&D, LLC
Jennifer Bartels, mother of two boys, created CoolBottoms® dipper rash cream when her youngest was two years old. A round of antibiotics resulted in a flaming red, open sore diaper rash. During this same time she had been struggling with her fish tank chemicals and came upon a pH based solution. This idea translated to her son's condition and with a quick trip to the store her son's rash was gone 24 hours later, never to reappear. Bartels used her background in technical writing and trademark work to write a patent on the pH formulation and concept. Today Bartels is the CEO of pH R & D, LLC of Hammond, LA, where she, along with business partner Dr. Gina Herrmann, M.D., produces a line of skincare products for long term care clinics, hospitals, nurseries, and retail stores. "NWBOC certification has opened doors for us with the large distributors and it gets us interviews with major vendors such as Walgreens," said Bartels.
Meet Carrie Jones, Jones Public Affairs
Marissa Levin startCarrie Jones started Jones Public Affairs, a healthcare communication agency, in March 2007 to help bridge patient advocacy groups and the healthcare industry. "Industry guidelines for communicating with patient groups were vague and advocates wanted to do more meaningful work with healthcare companies," said Jones. In just four years she has expanded from a one woman business operating out of her home to 20 employees with offices in Washington, DC, Cambridge, MA. and Paris, France. "NWBOC certification has served as a real differentiator for us," said Jones. "Our competitors are generally the big firms that are publically owned. But we're seeing a growing interest from our clients to work with women-owned small businesses." As one of the fastest growing healthcare communications companies in the world, Jones Public Affairs helps their clients reach the stakeholders, the "influencers" who drive change in the healthcare arena. Jones' model for healthcare communications leverages five key stakeholders - the media, key opinion leaders (such as medical researchers and doctors), policy makers, social media and patient advocates. Not only has this model been embraced by both industry
and advocacy groups, it has been the driving force behind the company's tremendous growth and success.
Meet Marissa Levin, Information Experts
Marissa Levin started Information Experts in Reston, VA 16 years ago. Levin's company provides strategic communications, branding, interactive, and marketing solutions, education and training solutions, and human capital solutions to government agencies and Fortune 500 organizations. Levin makes the most of her NWBOC certification by being a highly visible and outspoken advocate and champion for women owned businesses. "As a contractor for the federal government, our women-owned designation has been very significant," said Marissa. With revenue approaching $15 million, Levin says, "we haven't even scratched the surface of our potential. What we have accomplished is just the tip of the iceberg.
Meet Lisa Spector, Staffing Plus
Lisa Spector started Staffing Plus in Haverford, PA in 1997 in her kitchen and today the company has 1,000 people working as temporary field staff every week. Staffing Plus specializes in the behavioral health, education, allied health, and pharmacy fields. Lisa combines a strategic vision and drive that has led Staffing Plus to develop a reputation for quality, integrity, innovation and the willingness to always go the extra mile for the clients they serve. Lisa attained NWBOC certification years ago after one of her clients was going for a huge state contract and asked her to get certified so they could use Staffing Plus for staffing. "I contacted Janet Harris-Lange and she was fantastic, doing all she could to speed the process along," said Lisa. Certification helped Lisa's client secure the contract and has given Staffing Plus and their clients access to more government contracts.
Meet Lynn Zorn, Business Relocation Services, LLC
Lynn Zorn is the founder and CEO of Business Relocation Services, a company that manages business relocation projects for companies who are moving employees from oneoffice site to another."NWBOC certification is definitely a benefit for my company as it is frequently a factor in client decisionmaking," says Zorn. Combining her extensive furniture and design experience with many years of relocation management gives Lynn an exceptional capability to focus on the details of any relocation project. Her ability to interact with people also helps instill confidence in others and enhances the relocation experience. The company is in Atlanta, GA.
Meet Judy Connelly, LockersNMore, LLC
Judy Connelly started LockersNMore, LLC in Charlotte, NC with a background in Materials Handling. The national and international distributor of lockers, toilet partitions, and washroom accessories provides products to over 26 states as well as Australia, Kathmandu, Nepal, Turks and Caicos, Madagascar, Malta and Aruba."NWBOC certification has enabled me to secure more large government contracts as well as local government contracts, like the City of Charlotte," says Judy. LockersNMore has exceptional customer service due to Judy's management of her clients. She personally speaks with customers every day. Judy also markets, advertises and manages her own books.
Meet Jennifer Nevins, DW Smith and Associates, LLC
Jennifer Nevins joined the 45-year-old firm in 1988 after earning her Bachelor of Science degree from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. Her position expanded through the years, and after extensive on-the-job training, she was managing multiple land development projects for the firm. In 2008 Jennifer's hard work and leadership paid off and she became the majority partner in the firm."Our NWBOC certification was secured in 2008. "Since that time, it has been critical to the success of my company's diversification efforts," said Jennifer. "We have had opportunities to bid with various teams and have been able to create a much broader network through the process. We have even been able to market our services directly to our competitors, when public sector bids require the use of a minority/woman-owned business." DW Smith Associates, LLC provides civil engineering, land surveying, landscape design, environmental services, and construction management.
Meet Michelle Frank, Tryton Solutions, LLC
Michelle Frank formed Tryton Solutions, LCC, a boutique IT Solutions company, in Farmington, CT in 2006. "Being NWBOC certified has helped our business tremendously," says Frank, continuing that certification has secured opportunities and major clients for the company. Tryton Solutions provides IT consulting services primarily to the healthcare industry but also the financial services, publishing and insurance sectors. Services include statement of work, deliverable-based IT projects and recruiting services for contract, contract-to-hire and direct hire resources. Future plans for Co-Managing Principals Michelle Frank and Moira Swallow include implementing a strategy to expand into local, state and federal government agencies. "Holding NWBOC certification plays a major part in that strategy," said Frank.
Meet Rutherford, Potty Pony Pals
Doreen Rutherford got the idea for Potty Pony Pals, a natural, fun alternative to toilet training, four years ago when her youngest daughter struggled with toilet training. She realized that she had to invent a memory-association to trigger the child's focus. Potty Pony Pals uses the combination of a DVD and a pony graphic on the inside of training underpants as a communication prompt for toddlers during toilet training. "NWBOC certification has been an achieved goal for me," says Rutherford. "The respect gained with certification helps us get recognized by major corporations." Both the organic cotton training pants and the DVD are manufactured in the US and are sold online at www.pottyponypals.com and at
Meet Laura Bernstein, VisionPoint
In 2004 Laura Bernstein purchased the VisionPoint, where she has been President. "Many of our clients have diversity supplier programs and seek out minority-owned or woman-owned suppliers," said Bernstein. "Certification has allowed us to be considered and has contributed to the client decision process." VisionPoint provides fast and flexible training to companies that are working to promote ethical conduct, foster inclusion and respect, and build high-performing work teams. "VisionPoint is on a path to accelerate growth. There is room for us to expand our footprint both here in the U.S. and around the globe," said Bernstein.
Meet Susan McWhorter Driscoll, Ignition
This Atlanta, GA based marketing firm believes in the importance of the interactive experience in a cohesive, comprehensive and effective marketing mix. "We have succeeded because of our focus on building a team of diverse leaders and industry influencers," says owner Susan Driscoll. "NWBOC certification reinforces this commitment, and provides an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of developing women as leaders. It also helps our clients meet their diversity goals."
Meet Melissa Hulsey, Ashton Staffing
In 1995, Melissa started Ashton Staffing in Kennesaw, GA with the goal to create a working environment that fosters growth and opportunity for her staff and associates, while providing excellent staffing services to her clients. "NWBOC certification has made a big difference in leveling the playing field against our larger competitors," said Hulsey. "It also lets companies know that we are serious about doing business and has increased our creditability." Ashton Staffing has five branches located throughout Northeast Georgia and has grown to include three industry-specialized divisions.
Meet Emily Sanders, Sanders Financial Management
After working in corporate America for nearly 20 years, Emily Sanders was looking for more balance in her life and the opportunity to spend real quality time with her then elementary-age children. In 1994, Sanders founded Sanders Financial Management in Atlanta, GA to provide financial advisory services to individuals and families with the goal of connecting more genuinely with her clients. "Our NWBOC certification has helped us as we've built our business and has been very valuable in identifying prospective clients that are looking for women-owned businesses," said Sanders, adding, "it has raised our credibility among our client base and among prospective clients."
Meet Anita Tang, Royal Roots
Anita Tang started Royal Roots Global Inc. in Chicago, IL in 1994. Royal Roots Global Inc. is a consulting firm focused on U.S. - China business and provides crossborder strategy to U.S. and Chinese companies. After becoming NWBOC certified we found ourselves more involved in the development of women-owned business and minority-owned business," says Anita. The company's services include research, project strategy advisory, negotiation assistance, strategic partner identification and introduction, licensing, and sourcing, among others. The company is headquartered in Chicago, IL with strategic partners in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong, Chin.
Meet Gloria Apostolos, County Court Reporters, Inc.
Gloria Apostolos started County Court Reporters, Inc. in 1980. County Court Reporters, Inc. offers freelance court reporting services, and their primary clients are law firms. "I recertify annually as a WBE because I feel strongly that it is something we must uphold and stay current on," says Gloria. Within the first year she was able to hire six employees and by the second year she expanded to a second office space in Wheaton, IL. Today County Court Reporters, Inc. employs over 30 people and has several offices in the Chicago Metro area.
Meet Nancy Peckham, Valicaom Corp.
Nancy Peckham started Valicom Corp. in 1991 in Fitchburg, WI with a background in sales and management for a long distance carrier. Valicom helps enterprise and mid-market clients across the U.S. improve financial and operational performance by providing visibility and control over telecommunication expenses. "NWBOC certification has made a huge difference to us in our business," says Peckham. "Many of our clients have supplier diversity programs and our services are not only important to them in saving money and creating greater operational efficiencies, but also in satisfying their supplier diversity goals and requirements. Certification has also helped us to win several large client contracts." As a provider of telecom expense management (TEM) solutions, Valicom offers a comprehensive portfolio of expense and spend management opportunities tailored to the unique needs and situations of each client. Valicom works with a variety of markets including energy utilities, healthcare, manufacturing, professional services and financial/insurance companies.
Meet Deborah Luster, Can Do Kid
Deborah Luster started Can Do Kid, Inc. in Mill Valley, CA to let kids of all ages know that they CAN DO ANYTHING! Luster started by writing a children's book, for ages 2-8, called I Can Do Anything! The book is now being sold in many Barnes and Noble and Toys R Us stores, as well as high end hotels and on Amazon.com. Soon after her book, she launched an energy nutrition bar called CAN DO KID that energizes the minds and bodies of kids. The all natural gluten-free bar is made with organic ingredients with 9 grams of protein and 16 essential vitamins. The bars are sold across the country in natural food stores, gyms, zoos, REI and some grocery chains. Luster has now expanded to include an energy bar for adults called the CAN DO BAR and a second book featuring a neighborhood of CAN DO KIDS called I Am Happy Just The Way I Am! Luster says that NWBOC certification has made a difference in saving her company money. "Most food companies have to pay a lot to get into stores, we save money by showing our Woman-Owned Certified status."
Meet Cara Barbineau, Blue Marble Media
Cara Barineau started Blue Marble Media in 1995 in Atlanta, GA, because she saw an opportunity to bring video production and web development together into one company that specialized in message and image as opposed to technology, because very few existed at that time. "Certification has helped us land projects with the CDC here in Atlanta and has also benefited us with getting a foot in the door with large corporations who have government obligations to contract with a certain percentage of woman-owned businesses," says Cara. Blue Marble Media has also launched Cooper Maron Commissioned Films, a new division working with private individuals to create family history documentaries, tribute films and other types of personal films.
Meet Trisha Emerson, Emerson Human Capitol Consulting, Inc.
Tricia Emerson started Emerson Human Capitol Consulting, Inc. in 2001 in Alameda, CA. The consulting company helps organizations capture the benefit of their change initiatives, whether it is a new strategy, technology, or way of working. Emerson's services include Training Design, Development and Delivery; Management; Communication Planning and Execution; and Organization Design and Development. "NWBOC certification serves as validation and facilitates the procurement process," says Tricia of the importance of being WBE Certified. Today Emerson has Fortune 500 clients all across the US and plans continuous, steady, predictable growth so they can provide long-term employment for their exemplary staff.
Meet Wendy Kaufman, Balancing Life's Issues
Wendy started Balancing Life's Issues in 2001 in Ossining, NY after 10 years of being an independent consultant. As nation-wide corporate training company, Balancing Life's Issues services individual companies, hospitals, school, work life providers and EAPs. The company offers lunch and learn seminars on topics from wellness to leadership, parenting and eldercare. "Being a certified WBE gives validity to our company and allows us to network with other woman-owned businesses," says Wendy of NWBOC certification. Balancing Life's Issues has grown from a single trainer organization to having over 500 consultants today reaching clients in all 50 states.
Meet Crystal Arlington, Affiliated Grounds Maintenance Group
Crystal started Affiliated Grounds Maintenance Group in Erie, PA in 1999. Specializing in commercial landscape maintenance, lot sweeping, and snow and ice management services, the company is one of the few that has both Nationally Certified Landscape and Snow Professionals on staff. "Being woman-owned brings supplier diversity to the table. Corporate America is now looking for minority and women owned business's to build relationships with. Since I am in an industry that is mainly male oriented, it gives me the edge for presenting services I can offer," says Crystal of being NWBOC certified. "I also have certifications in snow and landscaping. I am the only woman in North America that has this dual certification." Currently serving clients in 25 states, Crystals aspires to be one of the largest national outdoor maintenance companies.
Meet Debra Dupree, Vitali WORCS
Founded in 1986 and based in San Diego, CA, Vitali WORCS provides solutions and resolution of high conflict business and employee relationships. Effective and resourceful approaches to human resource and business challenges are facilitated, improving the financial bottom-line while achieving productive and fruitful outcomes. "NWBOC certification has enabled Vitali WORCS to compete in major contract negotiations with such organizations as the City and County of Los Angeles where such opportunities would never have been available to a small enterprise. Its prominence on the website has in turn linked with other certified professionals where new friendships and new business opportunities have emerged." Services include Coaching, Consulting, Training, and Conflict Management practices for sole proprietors, family businesses, non-profits, and small businesses. These strategies are accomplished trough work climate studies, leadership and conflict assessments, employee interviews, group facilitation, and individual coaching.
Meet Helene Abrams, Enterprise Resource Planning
In 1998, Helene started eprentise in Orlando, FL with a technology based on understanding how the data in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems could be changed. The technology, calle 'eprentise' offers transformation software solutions for Oracle's E-Business Suite users who want to consolidate multiple EBS environments into a single data center in order to operate globally from a single database environment. After three years of development, eprentise software is quickly becoming an industry standard to address the changing business needs of large organizations. "Certification as a woman-owned business has made a great impact on our company in that a large majority of Fortune 1,000 companies and government agencies have a certain percentage of their budgets allocated for minority- or woman-owned businesses. The NWBOC certification has made it simple for potential customers to identify us as a woman-owned business, and it has given them an added incentive to become a customer." Today, eprentise operates in a global marketplace with clients in five continents and in 11 time zones. The company plans on expanding to other enterprise software platforms to give any company the ability to transform their existing systems to match changing business requirements.
Meet Jan Hall, Advertising in Motion
After twenty years in the corporate world Jan Hall decided that it was time to step out on her own. Jan started Advertising In Motion, a Christian centered business in Hudsonville, MI that started out as a company providing promotional products to help businesses grow and make a lasting impression on their clients. "NWBOC Certification has opened doors for us and made us the preferred vendor for some clients. It has also allowed us to help some of our clients achieve their goals of working with diversified companies." Today, Advertising In Motion has expanded to include, marketing consulting, strategic planning, marketing material development, branding services, website and social media consulting, compensation consulting, and promotional services. "We are a relationship oriented business. As we get to know our clients and their business goals, we are better able to help them achieve success."
Meet Patricia Phillips, Take-and-Bake Pizza
Patricia Phillips started her entrepreneurial career trying out several occupations before discovering the concept of Take-and-Bake pizza. With tenacity and plenty of trial and error, Patricia developed her industry award winning pizza and opened her first "Patty's Pizza" in Beverly Hills, California. "Being a member of NWBOC has assisted us in being recognized by many of our larger accounts. It is definitely an added bonus to being a Woman Owned Business and we are looking forward to tapping into more of what NWBOC has to offer," says Patricia. Today, Patty's take and bake restaurants serve take and bake pizzas, fresh salads, sandwiches and a host of special items while her wholesale division reaches hotels, theme parks, restaurants, convention centers, sports arenas and caterers all over the United States. Patty's newest venture is "Keeping Kids Healthy!" through her new line of LIL DEV'S whole-wheat, healthy kid's pizzas that are really starting to make waves and are available in supermarkets around the country!
Meet Dr. Elizabeth Abramowitz of Administrative Services, Inc.
In 1979, Dr. Abramowitz left The White House, where she had been the Assistant Director of the Domestic Policy Counsel for Education and Women's Affairs. In that position she worked on several key women business owner issues; most importantly, the U.S. Department of Commerce Task Force on Women Entrepreneurship and the government-wide review of all federal policies impacting on women's equity. Elizabeth was determined to commit the time and personal resources required to beat the high failure rates for new businesses and survive longer than 18 months. She and a college friend and fellow psychologist went on to start and run two successful companies. The next major entrepreneurial change came in 1997 when they started Administrative Services, Inc. (ASI). The company began in back office administrative services and by 2003, had expanded ASI (also called ASIWorks, Inc,) into a federal contractor with minority women business owner certification in several states. In 2008, they managed over $50 million for their clients. Today, ASI has over 30 full-time staff. NWBOC certification has made the difference for ASI. "First, it helped us get our Missouri contracts, and has improved our competitive standing in our bids for work in several states," said Elizabeth. "Also through the National Women's Business Owners Corporation newsletter, I feel part of the community of other women entrepreneurs. I do learn from their business stories. Thanks to NWBOC, ASI is registered vendor on the Nebo's website. I look forward to partnering with members to bid on contracts."
Meet Sam Montross of Cadence Keen Innovations (CKI)
Sam Montross started Cadence Keen Innovations (CKI) in 1996 with the intention of solving an age-old problem: how to combine two twin beds when a larger bed is needed. Montross, CKI sole owner, said the invention evolved from her role as an owner of ski rental property. "To finish our rental unit, we put queen beds in every room except one, which had a set of twin beds for guests who wanted to share a room but, perhaps, not sleep together," Montross explained. "But invariably, we would find that some guests had pushed the twin beds together which is not only uncomfortable to sleep upon, but unsafe." Located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Montross sells her products predominately to catalogs and the hospitality industry. What began with the bed doubling system has expanded into a line of waterproof, anti allergen mattress and pillow products. With CKI clients located across the United State and around the world, NWBOC certification gives Montross's business a leg up. "I think being able to say or display that I am NWBOC certified gives the claim absolute validity," said Montross. CKI has just patented a new product called the Bed MadeEZ. "With the heavy mattresses sold today, lifting the mattress to change linens is a difficult task," said Montorss. "This product allows one to effortlessly lift it." CKI introduced the Bed MadeEZ at the International Hotel & Motel show in November and reports it was a big hit. They plan to sell the product to hotels, cruise ships as well as to consumers.
Meet Hollis Brookover of Morningside Products
Hollis Brookover, owner of Morningside Products, founded her company in 2004 with the purpose of giving everyone access to healthy and natural body care products. She didn't believe that anyone should have to read the fine print on the bottle to know if they were getting safe, quality ingredients. Morningside products include hand soaps and lotions, body soaps and lotions, bubble baths, and body butters marketed in four lines - Originals, Simple Originals, Lumiere and Morningside. Morningside Products formulates and sells high quality bath and body products to retail buyers throughout the US and Canada. The products are manufactured in and shipped from Garden City, Idaho. NWBOC Certification has benefited Morningside Products in two important ways: Recognition and Opportunity. Recognition: In 2006 the US Department of Commerce recognized Morningside for outstanding achievement in exports during the Idaho World Trade Day. Later that year Brookover traveled with then Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne on a trade mission to Mexico to explore the Mexican market. Opportunity: In 2008, through Supervalu's Supplier Diversity Program, Morningside was able to successfully present two of its product lines for sale in the SuperValu family of grocery and drug stores. The Originals and Simple Originals brands can now be found in many Albertsons, Acme and Jewel Osco stores.
Gilly Hitchcock of FPC Bangor, Inc.
Gilly Hitchcock began her own company in 1998 because she wanted to draw on all her skill sets and still have some flexibility to raise a family. Located in Farmington, Maine, Gilly is the sole owner of Fortune Personnel Consultants (FPC) Bangor, Inc. With clients all over North America, FPC Bangor's role is to partner with Human Resources, develop lasting relationships, and complete executive searches that work. Acting as Executive recruiter, Gilly and FPC Bangor have placed over 200 executives in industries that include pulp & paper, specialty chemicals, power generation, construction, environmental and real estate investments. "We are recognized for our professionalism, quality of service and solid industry experience, resulting in successful searches and satisfied customers," said Gilly. NWBOC certification has made a very positive difference for FPC Bangor and created great networking opportunities for Gilly. In just a few years, FPC Bangor has expanded from an office of one to a total of five people. Their future plans include working with their core industries and clients helping to supply people with the up-coming baby boomer retirements. For more information on Gilly or FPC Bangor, visit www.fpcbangor.com.
Meet Bobbie Ruch of Acloché, LLC
George C. Ruch Sr. and Betty Lou Ruch started Acloché LLC in Ohio in 1968. Their daughter Roberta "Bobbie" Ruch started working for the company in 1973 and when her father died in 1983, Bobbie began running the company. At the time she was Vice President and today she commands the company as President and CEO. Since 1968, Acloché has taken a consultative approach to providing customized Human Resources strategies and workforce staffing solutions of 15,000 people annually in a network of 11 locations to over 1,600 client organizations in Central Ohio. Acloché is 100% women owned; Bobbie owns 51% while her daughter Georgia owns the rest. "The NWBOC certification is very important to us and we are in the process of launching a marketing initiative to make the most of our affiliation," she said. "Market-driven organizations leverage human capital to stay in step with the dramatic economic and technological changes driving business strategies and plan execution," said Bobbie. Acloché opened two new offices recently, one in Bucyrus and one in Washington Court House.
Meet Sandra Foland of Baron Sign Manufacturing
After living in Italy for 11 years, Sandra Foland started Baron Sign Manufacturing in Riviera Beach, Florida, in 1983. Originally, she did sign painting for outdoor advertising, but with the advent of technology and die-cut vinyl for signs, she more than doubled the business. "One piece of equipment led to another and I grew to include larger exterior signage as well as interior signage for commercial projects," she said. Sandie's husband joined the business in 1986 and they purchased a 10,000 square foot building to expand. Three years later they added two more buildings, equaling 17,000 square foot for designing and manufacturing interior and exterior signs. "Certification has given me the opportunity to be listed as an approved sign contractor for government agencies, airports and negotiated construction," said Sandie. "It has allowed me to showcase my business as a full service sign manufacturing company, equal to any larger sign manufacturing company. It was the lack of any professional sign company in the area and expansion of computer equipment that has propelled us to be the largest design/build sign manufacturing in South Florida."