Each year the Columbus chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners honors selected female entrepreneurs in Central Ohio for the challenges they've overcome to get where they are today. Here's a look at this year's honorees.
Lynda Bryant, founder of L.B. Trucking Co. Inc. in Hilliard, started her business nearly 13 years ago with a single dump truck and "absolutely no construction background," she says.
"I knew straight out that I was a woman working in a man's world."
In the early years of her business, when Bryant visited a contractor to take measurements and prepare documents for bid estimates, she was often asked if there was a man in the office who could come out.
"I explained that I was the one and that everything was going to be OK," Bryant recalls.
Indeed, it has been.
Today, Bryant's company boasts revenue of approximately $3 million and has a network of nearly 100 broker trucks in addition to three company-owned trucks. Some of the larger contractors her company works with are Kokosing Construction Co., Environmental Pipeliners and George Igel & Co.
Bryant has also expanded her business to include a Vehicle Service and Restoration Center for cars and small trucks.
The Columbus native and graduate of West High School says she believes "I have proven myself and feel as if I have broken through the glass ceiling that was always an obstacle for women."
Bryant is a member of the Columbus chapter of Women in Construction and served as its president from 1995 through 1997. She is married and has two grown sons and five grandchildren.
Sue Doody, president of Lindey's in German Village, opened her restaurant 20 years ago in the face of much skepticism.
"They laughed," Doody says of the banks she contacted for financing and the media that wrote about her plans to open a small bistro on the corner of Third and Beck streets.
"The restaurant business, as you know, is notorious for a lot of failure," she says. "Then, being female, they kind of looked at me like I was crazy."
One newspaper article even went as far as to describe Doody as an Upper Arlington den mother who was buying a "white elephant," since the location she selected for Lindey's was the site of several failed restaurants just prior to her purchase.
Even suppliers gave her a hard time at first.
"They thought they could send me lesser-quality products and I wouldn't notice or that I wouldn't stand up and say anything," Doody says. "I had to let them know I wouldn't accept any inferior stuff. I just kept sending things back."
Eventually they got the message. And despite what the critics predicted for this former elementary school teacher whose only food-service experience before opening Lindey's was running a small catering business and teaching gourmet cooking, Doody found quick success.
Today Lindey's is a 120-employee business with annual revenue of approximately $5 million.
Doody's success as a restaurateur and her continued commitment to civic and business groups have made her a prominent leader in the community. She serves on several boards, including Nationwide Financial Services, Franklin University, the Private Industry Council of Columbus and Franklin County, the German Village Business League, Columbus State Community College's Task Force on Managing for the Future and the Ohio team for Ohio Cancer Research. In addition, she volunteers with the Columbus Museum of Art, Buckeye Ranch and Action for Children. This past February, Doody made SBN Magazine's Power 100 list of people who make things happen in corporate Columbus.
Doody has four grown children, two of whom own the chain of Bravo! and Brio restaurants based in Columbus, and seven grandchildren.
Wendy Goldstein, CEO and creative director of Costume Specialists Inc. in downtown Columbus, started her business in 1980 after working as a buyer for Lazarus Department Stores.
She built upon her retailing experience there -- as well as upon her degrees from The Ohio State University in textiles and clothing, home economics and a minor in theater -- to develop a niche in costume design and retailing that now brings in more than $2 million annually. She and her staff of 30 have designed hundreds of life-sized character costumes for book publishers, sports teams and corporations.
Among the most recognizable are storybook characters Winnie the Pooh, Peter Rabbit and Curious George; OSU's Brutus Buckeye; Max & Erma, for the like-named local restaurant chain; and Captain Morgan for Segram Spirits and Wine.
Big-name accounts and multimillion-dollar revenue didn't come easy, however. Goldstein started Costume Specialists in her basement 21 years ago, sewing costumes for company sales meetings and special events. She opened a retail and rental store a year into the business and, encouraged by its performance, opened a second store in 1985.
That location ultimately failed, but Goldstein regrouped. She focused on streamlining design and production in a warehouse-style building, which gave her room to handle larger orders. Then she expanded the business in a new direction, adding a service to clean, repair and ship costumes all over the country for scheduled appearances.
Despite the ups and downs she's experienced in her business, Goldstein says her greatest challenge as a business owner has come in "taking the leap from being a designer to being a manager/leader. They're totally different skill sets."
Taking entrepreneurial and management classes through the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce and SkillPath Seminars, as well doing "some major networking" with other business owners, helped her "open the doors and realize I don't have to be my own boss. I can use the network I have."
Goldstein serves on the boards of The Fashion Group International and The Warehouse District Association. She is a single mother of two children and an active parent in Bexley City Schools. These three women will be recognized by NAWBO at an 11:30 a.m. luncheon July 12 at the Hilton Columbus at Easton, 3900 Chagrin Drive. For reservations, contact Trisha Smith at 444-7455. SBN Magazine is a sponsor of this event.