By Ken Mammarella
Special to Delaware Business Times
“Dover is a little gem,” said N. Taylor Collins, and she likes to share all the history and fun it offers. Her enthusiasm is why she and fellow entrepreneur Jan Crumpley have received the new Byway Small Business award from the Delaware District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The award is one of several announced by the SBA, and its partners at the Small Business Development Center, SCORE and the Women’s Business Center (WBC) that celebrate the success of outstanding small business owners, resource partners, and small business lenders.
Byway Small Business
Four artistic retirees — Collins, Crumpley, Susan Johnston and Maria Liberto Basette — went through the Kauffman FastTrac business development program with the Delaware Economic Development Office and in 2013 opened Parke Green Galleries in an 1830 building on The Green in Dover. They also took over the Delaware Store (for First State stuff) in their operations.
Their love of history is proclaimed in the site (a 1787 vote at a long-demolished tavern there ratified the U.S. Constitution and made Delaware the first state), phone number (ending in 1787) and gallery names (Dover astronomer Annie Jump Cannon and preservationist Mabel Lloyd Ridgely).
“We really like history,” Collins said. “It’s important to capture history in art.” And she does — along with a mobile in progress featuring autographs from tourists who stop at the store.
Collins and Crumpley (the others have retired) won the award for backing an SBA and Delaware Department of Transportation campaign to promote scenic and historic byways and small businesses on them. The store participates in the Byway Bucks program (a 10 percent discount) and displays a byway map. “We push other businesses down the street,” Collins said.
Her love of history shows in a chapter she’s writing for “Delaware WhoDunIt,” an upcoming Delaware Humanities book to encourage children to explore history. Her chapter involves a quilt, a symbolic system from the past telling slaves on the Underground Railroad it was safe to move on.
Small Business Person of the Year
Mountain Consulting, Inc.
Kim Adams in 2003 co-founded Mountain Consulting Inc. with her husband, Troy Adams. He has the professional engineer license, and she has the business management and development experience. Their Dover company has since grown to 25 employees and $3.1 million in revenue, she said, for engineering design, construction management, surveying and technical services.
Part of their growth comes from four SBA certifications and the ensuing benefits in government contracts. Mountain Consulting is a HUB Zone company (its offices are in a Historically Underutilized Business Zone, and a third of employees live in such zones); an 8(a) company, which allows small disadvantaged business to be the sole source of government contracts under $4 million; a minority woman-owned business; and an SBA-certified business.
Mountain Zone reaches well beyond its home turf. Its biggest client is the Philadelphia District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Four employees are now working on fire-detection systems at U.S. Army Reserve centers in West Virginia. And Adams plans within six months to open an office in Cecil or Harford County, Maryland, to be close to operations at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Herb Konowitz and Charles Schafer, who met through the Service Corps of Retired Executives, were honored for their years of using their knowledge to help other businesses grow.
Konowitz for 48 years ran the Milford Stitching Co., a textile manufacturer that catered to hotels, motels and department stores. “When I retired in 2006, I came home, and my wife, Linda, said ‘What are you going to do?’ I replied ‘I don’t know.’ She said ‘You are not staying home.’ I found SCORE.”
The Dover resident has volunteered with SCORE for 12 years, including a stint as state chairman, and has helped more than 36 businesses open in the Kent County area. Notable starts include First State Manufacturing and Shorecare.
“I love to help other people,” he said. “I have been president of Congregation Beth Sholom in Dover.
I am now vice chair of the Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing.”
In one fateful drive to a SCORE session, he recruited Schafer to serve as group treasurer, a task he has handled since a few months after he started volunteering with SCORE in 2009.
Schafer is a mechanical engineer who retired to Delaware after serving in multiple positions with several companies and owning his own consulting business for 24 years, providing technical, production, sales, IT implementation, training and administrative services for manufacturers. He worked in the Baltimore area and served there on the Governor’s Workforce Development Board.
He has counseled 270 clients. “I’ve done a lot of different things,” he offered for why he has been so popular.
His titles have included machinist, laboratory supervisor, chief engineer, vice president of engineering, national sales manager, executive vice president and president of a $40 million company — and he also built a six-bedroom home for his family. He has also presented numerous classes, including Boots to Business, which helps the transition from military service to business ownership.
Schafer continues in SCORE because of the satisfaction he gets from helping people. “I helped a 50-year-old man, who was a truck driver with very poor credit, set up his own trucking business.
I helped him create a business plan, and it took him about a year to clear up his credit. He ultimately got a loan to get his own truck. He was very fortunate because they just started repairing a runway at Dover AFB, and he got a steady hauling job to help him get busy right out of the gate.”
Frank J. Masley Champion Award
Delaware Office of Supplier Diversity
As executive director of the state Office of Supplier Diversity, Michelle N. Morin champions small businesses and firms owned by minorities, women, veterans, service-disabled veterans and individuals with disabilities. Since she started in 2013, state contracting with diverse and small businesses has increased by 283 percent, from $75 million in fiscal 2013 to $287.4 million by the end of fiscal 2017.
She also is a participant or serves in an advisory role on nine councils, boards and commissions.
In a bio she wrote for the awards, she said she “believes in servant leadership and continues to strive to create community, build relationship and act as a B2B and B2G matchmaker by uniting resource partners and business owners to continue economic opportunity advancement at all levels.”
An office listserv sent out 506 “OSD Is Sharing” emails in the last fiscal year, including networking, education, development and conferences. Morin emphasized the work is a group effort. “No one person can accomplish anything important alone. Colleagues, partners and the vendor community all work together to make our state function, and supplier diversity and inclusion is an important part.”
She also cited increased training to “help the inclusive business community learn how to do business with the state, to get certified as a diverse or small business with OSD, to connect with the school districts for supply chain opportunities, for matchmaking connections with other businesses and more.” These efforts help promote how Delaware is an “open and equal procurement state.”
The award is named for Masley, an Olympian who with his wife Donna in 2003 established a Delaware company to make specialized gloves.
The Cleaning Girl, Inc.
The feminine focus of The Cleaning Girl Inc. includes the name, the founder (Kelly Jones), two new partners (Candice Caruso and Denai Wolfe), community partnerships that promote other women and plans to franchise the business to women.
The partnerships include discounting cleanings for Helen F. Graham Cancer Center patients receiving chemo treatments; supporting young girls through Girls on the Run as they train for a 5K and learn leadership tools; and serving as an advisory board member of The Women’s Business Center and the YWCA Mind Your Business Program, mentoring other women business owners.
The franchise pitch is as “a remote and secondary income opportunity for other women while allowing more time to focus on theirselves as well as their family,” she said.
Jones has been in the business for more than 17 years. She sold her first cleaning company after 10 years to a competitor. “After taking some time off, I was introduced to a large post-construction project that required my services for two years as it covered the rehabilitation of the west side of Wilmington’s Neighborhood Stabilization program,” she said. “I was quickly sought out for my previous residential cleaning experience and chose to start another company with an aggressive plan for growth.”
The Cleaning Girl officially launched in August 2012, has been growing revenues at more than 15 percent per year. It’s based in Wilmington and offers commercial and residential cleaning services in New Castle County, using nontoxic products certified by the Green Seal Organization. It’s poised to begin its initial marketing campaign by mid-May with a strong focus on Kent and Sussex counties.
Dr. Michelle F. Parsons
Dr. Michelle F. Parsons founded ReNove Med Spa in Rehoboth Beach in 2005 to improve her work/life balance. “It paid off in the end,” she said, but it took five years of working at two jobs.
Parsons concluded that her work as an emergency room doctor at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, Maryland, did not allow for family time. After trying to build a gig with on-call house calls, she started ReNove, offering cosmetic non-surgical treatments to refresh and enhance appearance. She started small: renting just one room and buying supplies only as needed.
As the business grew, she moved to larger quarters and had a staff of eight, but now she’s settled into her own building, with a staff of three and shortened workdays that match her son’s school day.
Parsons, a native of Honduras, chose a French West Indies theme for her décor. “A little bit of class that fits the beach,” she said. “Cozy and cute.”
After a career that also included U.S. Air Force service, she’s very happy to be both pursuing a lifelong passion (“I’ve been drawing faces since I was a child.”) and being financially successful.
Awards for 7(a) Loans
The SBA honored two banks for involvement in its 7(a) loans, the agency’s primary loan program, offering flexible, long-term loans for up to $5 million. In fiscal 2017, M&T Bank made the highest number (44), and First Financial Bank loans totaled the highest ($8.41 million).