America's SBDC Blog
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The Secret Behind One Small Business’s Success—Hint: It’s Free!

By Gerri Detweiler

MentoringShane and Melissa Nichols’ five-year-old business, Arkansas-based Medex Waste, is on track to bring in $1 million in revenue, thanks in large part to the free help they received from the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center. “I don’t think we could have made it without them,” says Shane. “Without them there to answer questions and to lead us in the right direction, it would have taken us a lot longer and cost us a lot more money.”

The idea for the Nichols’ business, a firm that transports medical waste for disposal, started percolating after Melissa lost her sales job with a large national medical waste disposal firm when her office closed. As a top salesperson, Melissa often found herself frustrated when some of her clients were unhappy with the services they received from the firm. Initially, she took the layoff as an opportunity to go back to school, but then decided to take a job with another firm in the same industry. When the new company tried to shortchange her on her commission, she decided with her husband to start their own business.

At first the Nichols tried to land a small business grant, but were unsuccessful. Instead, they received something that perhaps proved to be more valuable in the long run: a referral to their local SBTDC. Advisors there helped them create a business plan, navigate small business financing options, and even provided sales leads. The SBTDC gave the Nichols answers to “all types of business questions,” says Shane, and “it was all free!”  (more…)

Understanding the Crisis of Disengagement

By Andrew J. Sherman
Seyfarth Shaw LLP

The Crisis of DisengagementMy latest book, The Crisis of Disengagement, discusses the multifaceted workplace dilemma — disengagement. It examines how apathy and complacency effects leadership and governance, company culture, fellow peers and team members, and lastly, the individual itself.  Layer by layer, I uncover the impact disengagement has on innovation, creativity, productivity, and profitability within an organization and in our communities.

At the America’s SBDC Annual Meeting in Orlando in the Fall of 2016, I gave a “Small Talk” sponsored by American Express where I discussed the impact of our nation’s current levels of disengagement on small business, innovation and entrepreneurship.  Small companies are struggling to compete for recruitment and retention of a qualified and motivated workforce and cannot withstand the financial and productivity consequence of a small group of workers who are not engaged. They also face the challenges of the “gig economy” and “the free agent nation” where nearly a third of all U.S. workers are independent or self-employed, with no loyalty on engagement towards a particular company, creating a modified set of expectations, relationships, and workplace norms.

Statistical data on levels of disengagement are still being gathered based on various demographics such as age, industry type, macro/micro level economic conditions and situational analysis. There are several evolving notions on the crisis of disengagement topic and direct and indirect costs of disengagement are still being understood and analyzed.  However, the effects of disengagement are the same throughout each organization or business. It is a disease affecting the central nervous system of our economy — and it is destroying creativity, innovation productivity and profitability.  (more…)

Client Showcase – That’s a Wrap!

America’s SBDC Clients Showcased in the Nation’s Capital

WASHINGTON, DC – America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) kicked-off their annual legislative meeting on Monday, February 6th with a reception and SBDC client showcase on Capitol Hill. Representative Steve Chabot of Ohio, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business, Acting SBA Administrator Joseph Loddo, Representative George William “Bill” Foster of Illinois, Representative Yvette D. Clarke of New York, and Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas addressed the reception guests.

The America’s SBDC Network showcased 14 SBDC clients from across the country. The SBDC clients were SpiderSense (Illinois), BlueAtomVR (California), Motus (Alabama), SimUCare (Delaware), Veterans MFG (Texas), Bearcreek Smokehouse (Texas), Rex Specs (Wyoming), Superior Bath House (Arkansas), Torklift (Washington), Stratom (Colorado), CPR Tools (Florida), Micro-LAM Technologies (Michigan), Wildcard Brewing Company (California) and Hometown Trolley (Wisconsin).

“What SBDCs do, their impact and value to aspiring and growing businesses, is best told through their clients’ success. SBDC clients not only have revolutionary products and services, they are hardworking, dedicated, and a group we couldn’t be more proud of. We only wish we could feature all the tens of thousands of businesses we help every year,” said Charles “Tee” Rowe, President & CEO of America’s SBDC.

The 63 state and regional Small Business Development Center Networks provide free one-on-one consulting to small businesses through nearly 1,000 locations. Job growth for SBDC clients is nearly 10 times greater than job growth for average businesses, and SBDC client sales growth is nearly 4 times greater than sales growth for businesses in general.

According to data provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA), every federal dollar spent on the SBDC network helped small businesses access $40.50 in new capital. In 2015, SBDC clients started a new business every 30 minutes, created a new job every 5 minutes and generated $100,000 in new sales every 7.5 minutes. Small businesses are job creators and innovators. Supporting their formation and growth moves our economy forward and makes our communities healthier.

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About America’s SBDC Program: America’s SBDC (Small Business Development Center) Network is a partnership uniting private enterprise, government, higher education and local nonprofit economic development organizations. It is the Small Business Administration’s largest partnership program, providing management and technical assistance to help Americans start, run and grow their own businesses. Learn more at

RECEPTION PHOTOS (Use password sbdc8990)


America’s #SBDC Client Showcase – Hometown Trolley

1 Day to the Congressional Showcase!

State: Wisconsin
SBDC: Wisconsin SBDC at UW-Green Bay
SBDC Advisor: Chuck Brys
SBDC Client: Double K, Inc. dba Hometown Trolley

Hometown Trolley

Hometown Trolley is a family-owned manufacturing business of trackless trolley buses used in private and public transit applications such as Universities, Historical Downtown areas, Public transportation in tourist areas, weddings and corporate events and tour operators. Each trolley is handcrafted to the exact specifications of the customer’s needs. Hometown Trolleys are sold nationwide as well as Canada and beyond.

“Hometown Trolley began working with SBDC advisor Chuck Brys in 2012, when the need for expansion was desperate, but the company was unsure how to make it happen. Chuck was so helpful in working projections and budgetary numbers to see that is was possible. We made the leap of faith and received two low-interest state loans as well as a local city lease for a purchase and expansion of a new building. Chuck was very instrumental in obtaining the loans for expansion through WEDC and NCWDC. With the expansion, Hometown Trolley was able to double production and gross sales by 100%. Currently, we are experiencing another growth spurt, and we will need to expand again in the near future and have projections for another 50% growth over the next two years.” — Kristina Pence-Dunow, Pres/CEO, Hometown Trolley

Read more about Hometown Trolley here. Follow Hometown Trolley on Twitter @hometowntrolley.


The America’s SBDC 2017 Client Showcase Reception will be at 5:30 pm on Monday, February 6, 2017, at the Rayburn House Office Building. Invite your Members of Congress now!

For more information about America’s SBDC or to find an SBDC near you, go to

America’s #SBDC Client Showcase – Wildcard Brewing Company

2 Days to the Congressional Showcase!

State/Region: California, Northeastern California SBDC
SBDC: Northeastern California SBDC at Shasta-Cascade
SBDC Advisor: Susan Wright
SBDC Client: Wildcard Brewing Company

Wildcard Brewing CompanyIt started when Jeff and Jenny brewed two beers to give away as wedding favors at a brewery in San Luis Obispo, where they went to college. Homebrew projects and burst bottle explosions ensued in the years after. But a casual passion soon turned career as Jeff announced to Jenny that he had quit his job and had been accepted off a wait-list to brew school. You’d call them crazy, adventurous, unpredictable… a wildcard. Their story is one of the unexpected; a place where there are no limits, where perseverance and a free spirit will turn dreams into reality.

Wildcard Brewing Company opened its doors in November of 2012, with 4200 square feet of open warehouse space, a 10-gallon pilot system and a small, bare bones tasting room. For a year, the brewery serviced local accounts through a contract brewing relationship. It wasn’t until September of 2013 that they revealed a 15-barrel production brewery at the location off Crossroads Drive. Once 100% of the production was in-house, Wildcard Brewing Co. was able to expand to other surrounding counties and begin bottling and canning product. Growth has continued at a rapid pace, adding to the chaos and Wildcard spirit.

“We discovered SBDC in a search for funding for our start-up company. Although SBDC did not provide actual funds, it was the mentoring we received there that directly benefited us during the loan process at our local bank. I believe we were successful in getting an SBA loan because of the professional way our business finances were presented to the bank and the confidence we had when speaking to them. The skills we gained from SBDC were invaluable and have been put to use time and again.” — Jenny Hansen, Co-Founder, Wildcard Brewing Company

Read more about the Wildcard Brewing Company here. Follow Wildcard Brewing Company on Twitter @WildcardBrewCo.


The America’s SBDC 2017 Client Showcase Reception will be at 5:30 pm on Monday, February 6, 2017, at the Rayburn House Office Building. Invite your Members of Congress now!

For more information about America’s SBDC or to find an SBDC near you, go to