Tag Archives: Business Development

OPPORTUNITY – Iowa Small Business Owners

What I’m about to tell you will all sound “too good to be true” and you’ll keep waiting for the “catch” when you learn that this Small Business Program will cost you $0. It is my belief that the intention is to simply help small businesses grow.

We are fortunate to live in a town that fosters great connections to the people and businesses in it. We are able to share our successes and work together to find ways to help small businesses grow in DeWitt. The DeWitt Chamber & Development Company is one of the organizations that supports and encourages those business and personal connections. That’s why I reached out to them to help me share this opportunity with our small business, with the hope that a few of our small businesses become even better, which would impact the overall vibrancy of our DeWitt economy.

I am Mary Sandry, co-owner of Sandry Fire Supply in DeWitt. Last year I participated in a program called 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB), a collaborative training program sponsored by Goldman Sachs.  The goal is to put existing small businesses through a business education program which fosters business growth.  I am excited to share that this program is now going to be available to up to 60 small businesses in Iowa through a “state-wide” collaboration between Iowa Community Colleges.  It will cost nothing for these businesses to participate.

I learned about 10KSB when I was looking for someone/something to help Bob and I evaluate our business and assist us with planning for its future. My experience was without a doubt, the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and our business.

Although I will admit that I was completely skeptical and particularly cautious, it turned out to be a great decision.  The program consists of a combination of online and in-person sessions, along with training in such things as financial statements, hiring practices, marketing, negotiations, etc., I ended up gaining so much more. The networking opportunities and the shared experience with like-minded business owners were invaluable.

The opportunity to work side by side with business owners who experience the same challenges with business operation and growth was incredible.  I have established what I hope to be life-long relationships with contacts who truly want to help me grow my business.

We have used the guidance from the program to develop a new marketing plan for Sandry Fire which gives us the reach we needed to establish new connections and ultimately grow.  We have enhanced numerous in-house processes and software programs that allow for continued growth and improved customer support. Best of all, 10KSB has given me the confidence and courage to take the steps to grow and develop ourselves into the company that supports our core values.

Since completing the program in November 2017, our business has experienced an almost 50% growth.  Although we cannot attribute all of that to this program, I do believe that it has made a difference in the future of Sandry Fire Supply.  We have the knowledge and resources to continue to grow.

Participation in this program will be a significant commitment of your time.  Time to learn and grow – while continuing to operate your business.  But the opportunity to make your business better is truly one you shouldn’t pass up.

Please consider applying for this opportunity.  If you have any questions or would like to hear more about 10KSB, feel free to contact me (mary@sandryfire.com) or check out the 10KSB Iowa website (www.10KSBapply.com/iowa) to learn more about their mission and what other businesses have gained through this opportunity.

Good Luck – and “Let’s Make Small Big” in Iowa!

 

Mary Sandry

Sandry Fire Supply LLC

Serving Those Who Serve Our Communities

Made in DeWitt

October is National Manufacturing Month and in this month dedicated to manufacturing I encourage people to learn more about manufacturing in DeWitt. I began my career in this field twenty-two years ago. My journey started with an opportunity to work part-time at a company named JRB located in DeWitt’s Industrial Park.  JRB was a manufacturer of construction attachments for John Deere and other Original Equipment Manufacturer’s.  At the time I had no idea where the Crossroads Business Park (DeWitt’s Industrial Park) was, what companies were located in it, nor the goods they produced.  What I did recognize was an opportunity to work outside of the typical part-time high school job.  Like many other high school students, I hadn’t made up my mind what I wanted to do for a career. I did know that I wasn’t looking forward to four years of college and viewed this job as a way to see what else was out there.  

So, I found myself in a completely new environment, where people were welding, operating lathes, burn tables, boring machines and painting.  We were literally taking raw steel and processing it into loader buckets, forks, booms, and couplers.  I grew to love the various processes, people and new opportunities that presented themselves.  I got a deep sense of satisfaction when I saw a bucket on a Deere wheel loader that our team in DeWitt had proudly made, as a matter of fact, the bucket on the City of DeWitt’s 544 was made at the DeWitt facility.  

Just like any industry, construction equipment has its ups and downs.  I saw plant expansion and contraction, selling and acquiring businesses, new product lines and phasing out legacy products.  Through it all, I was able to turn hard work and dedication into opportunities for growth.  I worked my way through different departments and increased roles of responsibility culminating in a leadership role as a plant supervisor.  Unfortunately, in 2009, due to the biggest recession since the great depression, JRB was shuttered and production was moved to sister sites in other states.  I was fortunate to stay on with the company that owned JRB and traveled between Davenport and Dubuque to manage a small division called CustomWorks.

Then three years later in 2012 I saw an article in The Observer that a Canadian company called Black Cat Blades was purchasing the old JRB building in the Industrial Park.  I stopped by the plant one day that October which led to a four month interview process where I was given the opportunity to get to know Black Cat and the culture that is very important to our business model.  A large part of what attracted Black Cat to DeWitt was not just the fact that the Industrial Park was less than 20 minutes north of Deere Davenport Works or 50 minutes south of Deere Dubuque Works, it was the people from the area they were meeting which started with the DCDC and DCDC members.  

The thought has always been that the community of DeWitt was a good fit for Black Cat’s culture and guiding principles, and that continued through the use of local contractors like Jansen ElectricHolst Construction and Dorhman during start up.  We believe in building relationships in the community we operate in and over the last four years I feel we have been successful in becoming part of the community.  We now employee 16 team members and in 2014 we started manufacturing wear blades in addition to our warehousing activities. DeWitt is very fortunate to have a successful Industrial Park and the jobs and opportunities that exist within it.  

So the next time you have a few minutes take a drive through the Crossroads Business Park and you will see all kinds of different manufacturing companies making anything from air fresheners, glass, testing products, wear components, pumps and valves, and ground engaging tools.  These companies come from all around the United States and other countries like Canada, Italy, and Sweden and truly demonstrate that DeWitt is part of a global economy.  

Josh Daniel, Black Cat Blades – DeWitt Plant Manager

See more about how DeWitt Delivers manufacturing and more!

 

 

Home, SWEET, Home!

563912_10151068294416121_2003904882_nWhen I graduated from high school in 1996, I was ready to explore the world and say goodbye to DeWitt. However, after thousands of miles on my car, 6 different cities in 3 states over 15 years, I finally realized what I was longing for was my hometown. I wasn’t just missing my family, but missing the sense of community and support that I felt when I was growing up that I wasn’t finding any other place I had lived.

Besides being homesick, I was also looking for a place to begin my next adventure. I had switched careers discovering a passion for the culinary arts while working as a graphic designer for The Kansas City Star newspaper. After attending culinary school in Arizona and working at various restaurants, I decided I wanted to open my own restaurant.

I thought about how I was raised in a family that had run a small business, the Operahouse, in DeWitt for almost 30 years. In that time I’ve seen the community rise up when help was needed, I’ve seen how residents fill the seats each night and I couldn’t think of a better community to support my restaurant. So I took the leap and moved back to DeWitt to open Whisk Away Café and Bakery. I was able to secure just about everything I needed to start my business, from a business loan to a contractor, within the community.

Whisk Away is now in its fourth year of business and it’s because of the opportunities DeWitt provides for businesses. Not only are customers loyal and supportive, but so are the other businesses in DeWitt. The Marketers of DeWitt, an organization of local business owners, work endlessly to create great events and promotions to draw people to DeWitt. The DeWitt Chamber and Development Company provides multiple resources to help businesses succeed. There are several community events to participate in and help promote businesses such as Tunes ‘N’ Town, Autumnfest, Hometown Christmas, Sweetheart Stroll, and many others.

It’s comforting to know that the community genuinely cares about our success as a business. I am so proud to see our town thriving and that I get to be a part of that success.

 

Laura Prichard, Owner of Whisk Away Café and Bakery