Minnesota SBDC Helps Small Businesses Think Big
Since 1951, the Wrazidlo family has been providing the Twin Ports area of Duluth MN, Superior WI, and surrounding communities with quality meats. Wrazidlo’s Old World Meats continues a tradition that started with Paul Wrazidlo’s grandfather, Frank Wrazidlo, when he opened Frank’s Quality Meats in Duluth, MN. Today, Old World Meats continues to grow and provide quality products made with the same meat recipes and techniques handed down through the generations.
Paul Wrazidlo first came to the Center for Economic Development (CED), Northeast Minnesota’s Small Business Development Center, to participate in the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) Student to Business Initiative (SBI) Marketing program in fall 2012. UMD students provided him with an integrated communications and marketing plan that really impressed him. “The marketing program was the boost we needed,” Paul said, “we have used 99% of their proposed marketing suggestions and today when I walk through the door of a prospective customer I think ’People Buy What I Believe.’ The students stressed this to me in their presentation.”
After his experience with the SBI program, Paul decided to continue seeking assistance from the SBDC for help in implementing the students’ marketing ideas. He worked with SBDC consultant Curt Walzcak and student interns to synthesize and implement a plan. This process involved social media, a website, and rebranding. Paul remembers his first meeting, saying, “The first day I sat down with Curt, I told him the business is good but that he had to fix me! I just get to a certain point then I plateau.”
Paul sought assistance again in 2013 and the SBDC helped him get an SBA 7a loan and conventional bank financing to buy machinery and helped him expand to the business-to-business market. The financing piece started with the Duluth flood in June of 2012. The business had suffered some building damage due to the flood. Paul was planning to apply for a SBA Disaster Recovery Loan but made the decision to refinance everything to allow him to expand. “Curt has been able to help me think big and reach out not only on a local level but a global one,” Paul said. It was a long process with many issues to resolve but his SBDC consultant helped him through the challenges he met along the way–and in 2013 Paul ordered two pieces of equipment, refinanced his business loan, and now store sales are up substantially over 2012.
After a lot of work, Paul Wrazidlo’s idea to expand Old World Meats has come to fruition. His tenacious attitude to keep moving forward, a local banker who believed in the project, and an SBDC consultant who helped put it together made the project happen.