Muntaqima Abdur-Rashid

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:07

Money can be therapeutic

Massage Away owners Diane Sater and Helen Yee can hardly believe their good fortune. Fall enrollment figures at the Columbus company’s massage therapy-school skyrocketed 500 percent as of early July, thanks to a $750,000 loan backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Two years ago, Sater says, members of the Service Corps of Retired Executives, steered the duo to the SBA to expand their growing business.

“The SCORE counselors were absolutely wonderful,” Sater says. It was the third time Sater and Yee had consulted SCORE about the business.

“They were a great venue for bouncing off ideas,” Sater says, “and they offered free, well thought-out advice when we showed them our business plan for starting the school. They told us about the benefits of leasing vs. building a building.”

Massage Away started as a 400-square-foot clinic in Westerville. The owners then added a 1,200-square-foot school near the clinic in 1995 and a small clinic in Grove City in 1996.

Massage Away has since moved to 2.2 acres in an 8,000-square-foot facility at the corner of Doubletree Avenue and Schrock Road. It includes two large classrooms, one each for anatomy and massage, and a clinic. The company, which employs 42 part-time workers, has maintained its Grove City clinic.

Sater credits her excellent relationship with Star Bank for helping to get the loan approved for her company’s most recent expansion. Representatives of the Columbus Countywide Development Corp., the local screening arm of the SBA, were friendly and helpful, as well, she adds.

Sater says the Massage Away school, which offers a yearlong program to become a licensed massage therapist, accounts for about 75 percent of the company’s business. She maintains that much of the stigma about massage therapy is gone. Contrary to what some may still think, the average person interested in massage therapy training isn’t “flaky and into crystals.” A typical student, Sater says, is age 37, has a college degree, and is looking for a career change. Clients, she adds, range in age from 3 to 93.



SBA lending activity in Central Ohio

Columbus Foam Products Inc., Westerville, $1,020,000

Made From Scratch Inc., Marysville, $1,000,000

Massage Away Inc., Columbus, $750,000

Winchester Veterinary Clinic, Canal Winchester, $725,000

Modern Copy Systems Corp., Columbus, $610,000

Great Clips, Columbus, $245,000

Davidson Rentals, New Albany, $98,500

Ruth Wilson Showroom, Columbus, $80,000

American Coating Corp., Dublin, $50,000

Mille Fleurs Flowers & Gifts, Gahanna, $40,000

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration Columbus District Office

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:04

Offering this benefit is child's play

When employees miss work because their children's day-care providers are unavailable, the interruption can be both frustrating and costly.

St. Ann's Hospital has found a solution to that problem: the YMCA's Educare program. Through Educare, companies can sponsor-at virtually no risk or cost-an on-site or off-site day care for children at least 6-weeks- old but not yet school age. The YMCA assumes responsibility for the staffing, operation, licensing and liability of each center. Employees pick up the cost, which is roughly $100 to $135 a week for each child enrolled.

Employers can qualify for tax breaks by offering the program, and can help reduce the cost to employees by providing food and equipment for the center, such as books and toys.

Patricia Ritchey, director of the Educare program at St. Ann's, says parents cite the ability to be close to their children as the biggest benefit of the program. That, she adds, helps attract and maintain good workers.

"We let them know they are welcome to visit the center at any time, and this keeps them happy in their job," she says.

Educare operates corporate day-care programs at St. Ann's and Columbus City Schools' North Education Center. Another center in the Hilltop area is expected to open in November.

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:06

When the shoes on the other foot

Why did you decide to sell your business yet remain its CEO?

We needed the money. Our revenues in 1993 were right around $50 million. I saw a huge opportunity to take it to what I believed would be in the $85 million to $100 million range within three years and we needed capital to do that. I tried the conventional ways to get capital∇banks, investment companies∇and no one was interested in extending credit at that time to shoe retailers.

I didn∏t leave, first, because I∏m not independently wealthy, so I needed a job. Second, I was the main attraction of the business. Third, people would have lost their jobs if I hadn∏t been here, and I would have had a guilty conscience.

What were some of the problems you faced working as an executive in a business you previously owned?

For 24 hours I had a major ego problem. [They] took the sign down that said Tishkoff Enterprises∇that hurt. As part of a larger, public company, I had a reporting responsibility that became political and, as such, was less attractive to me as time went on.

I shouldn∏t give the impression that life with J. Baker was all downside. They certainly invested a lot of capital in this company, and we went from $50 million to $125 million in the first full year. That part was good. After the first year, they decided they were going to get more interested in managing the business, which was interesting since we were making more money than any division they had. And the more they got involved, the less money they made.

What was the main difference between you and J. Baker?

We∏re very aggressive at retail. We go after the business. We try to satisfy our customer. Their philosophy was managing the business to maximize the return and forget the customer. It caused sparks because they certainly weren∏t going to change their philosophy for one division head.

What were the major adjustments for your employees when the business was sold?

This company has a family atmosphere. I don∏t think it∏s necessary to have a person go through 17 levels to talk to the president. My door is open. Under J. Baker that changed very quickly. Not in my office, but other offices around the building. I∏m not saying they were wrong; they were just wrong for this business.

Why did you decide to buy back the business and when did you start thinking seriously of a repurchase?

I saw the opportunity to become even larger, and in mid-1995 I decided to buy it. It became obvious to me that I was going to get fired because I was a real pain in the rear end. I could have retired, but I was too young to do that. Also, J. Baker∏s business got tough. They were going through a lot of strategy discussions and their expansion dollars were going in another direction.

It took two months to sell your business to J. Baker. Why did it take 18 months to buy it back?

We had to find the money. We talked to banks, insurance companies, investment companies. Then we got the funding from CHB Capital Partners, located in Denver. Negotiations were a tedious process. They had a board. They had to make sure they were serving the interests of the shareholders. I, on the other hand, was trying to make the best deal I could and I was still part of this executive committee. I had not resigned. I was still getting paid by them, but I was negotiating basically against them. So it was a fine line to tread.

What regrets do you have about having sold the business?

I don∏t have any regrets. I learned from it. I really don∏t look back.

Two words sum up the business philosophy of Gary Quick: people first.

“It’s all about people and keeping them happy,” he says. “And you don’t have to spend a lot to do it.”

The president and founder of Columbus-based Quick Solutions Inc., a computer consulting company, offers more than monetary incentives to keep retention and productivity levels high. He maintains that’s important in his line of work.

“In the information technology business, there are more jobs than people to fill them,” he says. “There’s a bidding war going on for our people.”

Quick, 48, spent 18 years as an executive headhunter before starting Quick Solutions in 1991, an experience that provided ample insight into workplace dissatisfaction in the information technology field.

“Many IT employees do not feel appreciated because they are an expense to a company,” Quick says. “When corporations have to cut their IT spending, low fixed annual increases and cuts in IT training usually result. At QSI, we do everything possible to make sure our consultants feel appreciated. We also do everything possible to communicate with them and meet their career goals and objectives.”

Although some of his consultants accept permanent positions in the companies they assist, Quick says his company has little turnover because of a supportive environment that IT personnel appreciate.

“Most big corporations don’t give a hoot about their IT personnel,” he explains. “Unless you’re in the computer consulting business, where IT people generate revenue, they’re an expense and they get treated like an expense. They don’t get any recognition. So I love to hire people from big companies. We do all kinds of things to stroke them.”

For starters, Quick Solutions offers its 200-plus consultants additional technical training that improves their overall marketability and matches their skills with client projects to make assignments more challenging and satisfying. A consultant generally interviews with a client to assure a good fit which, Quick says, is unusual in the industry.

“We can put people to work almost as quickly as we can hire them,” Quick says. “The challenge has always been to create an environment that gets attention. I think we go overboard in making sure that the project and the assignment we put the consultant on is one they want to do.”

Michael Holdcroft left Nationwide three years ago to join Quick Solutions as a consultant and has become one of its 20 consulting services managers. Holdcroft and his wife were impressed with the gift basket they received from the company when he came on board. And as a consultant, he appreciated the flexibility of getting whatever technical training he wanted.

“It’s a very entrepreneurial environment,” Holdcroft says. “Our consultants are given freedom to take their careers in any direction they want.”

Holdcroft says although he can make more money working for a large corporation, he doesn’t think he’ll go back.

Quick also takes care of his recruiting and marketing staff who, he concedes, are naturally proactive and need very little coaching.

“If you take care of the client by doing good service and you take care of your people who actually do the work, you really don’t have to worry too much about growing,” says Quick.

Managers are honored in quarterly recognition events and can spend a week every year in a company-owned condominium in Santa Bella Island, Fla. Administrative staff earn weekly cash bonuses based on units of work achieved. In 1999, Quick started giving out $1,200 travel bonuses and monthly housecleaning services to reward all staff who have at least three years of service.

Quick’s giving approach is paying off in a big way. In less than a decade, his company leaped from two consultants to 220, serving more than 80 clients, including Honda, AEP and Bank One. QSI has a total of 50 employees in its Columbus headquarters and regional offices in Charlotte, N.C., and Chicago. The company hit $24 million in revenues last year and expects to increase that figure 30 percent this year — the same increase it saw in 1999 over 1998 revenues.

This March, Quick started his quest to make stockholders out of his employees by offering an employee stock ownership plan. He believes employee ownership will improve attitudes and performance, resulting in even greater profits.

“If you really take care of employees,” he says, “they’ll return it 10 times.”

Muntaqima Abdur-Rashid is a Columbus-based free-lance writer.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:39

Erin Nyrop Glasgow

When the owner and president of Sterling Electric visits a job site with a plate of cookies in hand, her employees get needled by other workers in the area.

That’s your boss?” they say.

Erin Nyrop Glasgow can laugh now, but she didn’t always find the incredulity so funny.

Taking over her parents’ electrical contracting business six years ago, Glasgow had much to learn. Unlike her father, Edward Nyrop, who founded the Dublin company with his wife, Betty, in 1952, Glasgow wasn’t an electrician. Her only experience with the company had been in providing clerical support.

“I got along fine with the guys when I was just a secretary answering the phones,” she says. “But take that up a notch, and not only was I a female in a male-dominated industry, I also was the boss’s kid who some of the long-term employees had known since I was pretty young.”

Although the business that operated out of the Nyrops’ home provided the backdrop of their daughter’s childhood, Glasgow opted for a career less populated by men. After graduating from Coffman High School in Dublin, she left home to work for a bank. Within six months, however, Betty Nyrop had enticed her daughter back home with the promise of a higher salary as Sterling’s payroll secretary.

Convinced she wanted no major role in the family business, Glasgow earned a dual degree in restaurant management and marketing. When she attempted to find employment in the Columbus wine industry, her father redoubled his ongoing appeal to her to accept the ownership and presidency of Sterling.

“I was totally terrified because my father was quite a well-known, colorful character, beloved for the way he treated people, and because construction is a completely male-dominated industry,” says Glasgow. “That was the big thing.”

But Edward Nyrop assured his daughter she had the right stuff for the leadership role — good business sense, people skills and 14 years of experience with the company.

So in 1994, with a sense of pride in continuing her father’s vision, Glasgow accepted his offer. Somewhat shy at first, she built her confidence by joining a trade association and meeting key industry associates.

Still, she heard whisperings accusing her of being unable to run the company effectively and recalls even her parents were reluctant to relinquish control. So she fought back.

“I really learned to be much more out there and open, much more forceful when I need to be,” she says. “I said, ‘I’m here. Get used to it. Get over it.’”

Two years into her presidency, Glasgow’s father was diagnosed with cancer. He died six months later. Glasgow says part of her zeal to keep the company going is to honor her father’s deathbed wish that she continue as the company’s leader.

She feels she’s fulfilled her commitment.

Glasgow computerized Sterling’s offices and through trial and error hired and developed a finely-tuned accounting and clerical support staff. She’s also retained top-notch accounting, legal and financial firms.

Brad Eldridge, Glasgow’s financial adviser at Groner, Boyle & Quillin LLP, says Glasgow’s done an excellent job of being a leader in a male-dominated profession.

He’s worked with her for the past six years on tax planning and employee incentives. She knew she had a lot to learn in the industry, and she sought advice when necessary, he says.

“The best business owners are the ones who know what they don’t know,” Eldridge says.

Glasgow says she learned her management style from her parents: Hire talented people, treat them well, and give them the freedom to tailor a job to suit their work style. Her mother, now 70 years old, continues in the company as a consultant.

Under Glasgow’s leadership, Sterling’s revenue has grown steadily each year, from $2.8 million in 1994 to $4.2 million in 1999 — the same year she received the Ohio Department of Development’s Excellence in Enterprise Award.

She attributes the company’s growth in small part to herself and in large part to a surge in the Columbus construction industry in recent years and her excellent staff of two estimators and 35 hardworking electricians. She’d like to grow the firm to 50 electricians if she can find them, but she doesn’t want to lose the personal touch.

Glasgow says she’s thrilled to be recognized as a community leader.

“I’m proud that I’m recognized as a person who is credible — having a voice and feeling like that voice is being listened to because I have good suggestions for my industry,” she says.

While being a woman in construction has forced her to be more persistent, direct and aggressive, Glasgow says, she leaves to others the “hard-ass” approach to managing people.

She proffers that being a woman has helped her stand out in the industry and made it easier to get publicity. Additionally, a traditionally feminine ability to build relationships enables her to diffuse tempers and offer a sympathetic ear to her workers when needed.

Glasgow adds there are other benefits to being a woman in a macho world, such as having doors opened for her.

“Most of the guys are very nice to you,” she muses. “They just don’t know what to do with you.”

Muntaqima Abdur-Rashid is a Columbus-based free-lance writer.

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:36

W. Mac Ware

Although his life hasn't always been easy, W. Mac Ware thinks it's always taught him to do the right thing.

Growing up in the tiny farming community of Pasco in western Ohio just after World War II, he remembers his father took action when he discovered Ware's three older brothers suffered from asthma.

"He didn't think it was a good idea for them to be on a farm, so at the age of 35, he sold all the farming equipment and moved the family to Columbus so he could attend veterinary school," recalls the president and co-founder of Grandview-based Renovators Inc.

Having achieved his goal, the elder Ware moved back to Shelby County to start his new career, only to succumb to lung cancer 10 years later at age 48.

Ware recalls his teen years when he drove 18 miles each way to grow corn and beans on a 62-acre farm his father had purchased in Logan County a year before his death.

Ware, now 49, believes growing up on a farm in hard times honed an honest work ethic that has served his general contracting business well.

"We believe in doing things the right way and doing what we say we're going to do," says Ware.

Renovators was conceived on the waters of Lake Cumberland in southern Kentucky. While head of the estimating department at Elford Inc., Ware and Mark Shy, who worked for another general contractor, were vacationing at the lake with their families when the idea of going into business took root.

"We were complaining about our jobs as employees are wont to do," says Ware. "We thought, if we're going to work this hard, maybe we should do it ourselves."

In July 1994, both men left their employers to begin the new venture. With Ware's characteristic attention to detail and Shy's talent for public relations and marketing, Renovators became profitable almost from the start. It helped, Ware notes, that he and Shy lived on savings for six months, and that a close friend provided two years of free office space.

The partners' first gig was remodeling a residential basement in Gahanna. During the first six months of operation, they billed $300,000. By the end of their first full year, billings had soared to $1.6 million.

But success has been a long time coming.

Soon after graduating from Fairlawn High School, Ware got a job building trailer courts. Because he liked the work and was good at math, he attended Clark State University, where a dean, who knew his family background and skills, pushed him toward earning an associate's degree in civil engineering. He later earned a bachelor's degree from Franklin University in 1992 and a master's degree in administration from Central Michigan University in 1994.

In the 1970s, Ware worked as a field engineer and estimator for The Danis Co. in Dayton. There he met his mentor, Richard O'Brien, an estimator who taught him his craft and, Ware says, exemplified how to do things the right way.

Ware went on to work for other general contracting companies, including Setterlin Construction Co., M&P Construction and Elford.

As the head estimator at Elford, Ware became a mentor in his own right. Debbie Edwards, an Elford employee who worked for Ware, says she learned her job from him, noting that he was a great teacher who encouraged her to achieve in the male-dominated industry.

"He's a consummate professional, very good at what he does," she says. "He was always at the forefront of new thoughts and ideas and cared about the client first."

Shy says part of Renovators' success is Ware's ability to always do the right thing morally.

"He goes the distance to help employees financially or gives them the means to help themselves," she explains.

In return, Ware expects employees to deliver on their promises.

Keenly aware that the industry sometimes gets black marks for shoddy work and workmen not showing up when they say they will, Ware says it's vital that subcontractors and each of his 35 employees -- eight field supervisors and 27 carpenters, painters and laborers -- share the company's philosophy of providing clients the best value for their construction dollars.

In 2000, Ware expects Renovators to bill $6 million; about 80 percent of the billings will go toward paying subcontractors.

"It's real important to Mark and I that those subcontractors be treated with respect," he says, "because we want those people on our next job."

The company's commitment to treating clients, subcontractors and suppliers fairly, Ware says, has resulted in long-term, amicable relationships that have helped the business grow. And while financial success is important, Ware says he is spiritually motivated to take the high road in getting there, making time for family, friends and community interests along the way.

"The best advice I ever got was from my mother, who said, 'Life is a pleasure to be enjoyed, not a problem to be solved,'" he remembers.

Renovators' current projects include a Westerville nursery school and a 22,000-square-foot office building for Comprehensive Properties. The company has also performed remodeling at The Limited's distribution centers and specializes in doctors' and dentists' offices.

A member of the board of directors for the Builder's Exchange of Central Ohio, Ware also serves as chairman of the Salvation Army's Adult Rehabilitation Council.

He is especially interested in helping those in construction who suffer from substance abuse, having written his master's thesis on the topic. He and his wife, Helen, are active members of Upper Arlington Lutheran Church.

His volunteer leadership has earned him the Builders Exchange of Central Ohio's award for outstanding volunteer service.

But Ware says his biggest accomplishments are his children, son M.J., 27, who works as a carpenter for Renovators, and daughter Ami, 30, a middle-school teacher in Charlotte, N.C.

In addition to golfing, snow skiing and reading novels in his spare time, he is learning Spanish in anticipation of Hispanic workers playing an increasing role in construction trades.

Yet despite his accomplishments, Ware remains unassuming.

"We're just a couple of honest guys trying to run a small business," he says. Muntaqima Abdur-Rashid is a free-lance writer for SBN.

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:07

Internet Directory

This Internet Directory is designed to help our readers locate Central Ohio companies with a presence on the World Wide Web. This quarter, we’re focusing on local employment agencies, employee screening services and outplacement consultants. All Web-site addresses require the prefix http://.

While every effort is made to provide an up-to-date, complete listing, we cannot be held liable for sites that move or are deleted. If we’ve missed your site, please let us know.


Employment Agencies

Accountants on Call
www.aocnet.com

Accountemps
www.accountemps.com

ARC Industries
www.arcind.com

CBS Personnel Services
www.cbs-companies.com

CDI - Columbus
www.cdicorp.com

Courtney Services
www.courtneyusa.com

Dawson Personnel Systems
www.dawson-personnel.com

General Employment
www.dawson-personnel.com

ITS Technologies
www.generalemployment.com

Kelly Services
www.kellyservices.com

Labor Ready
www.laborready.com

Management Recruiters
www.mricolumbus.com

Manpower
www.manpower-ohio.com

Moore Temps
www.martha-vance.com

Norrell Staffing Services
www.norrell.com

Officeteam
www.officeteam.com

Omega Technical Corp.
www.omegatechnical.com

Project Lawyers
www.legal-placement.com

Tad Resources International Inc.
www.tadresources.com

Today’s Temporary
todays.com


Employment Screening Services

Fabco
www.fabco@netwalk.com

Interquest Information Services
www.interqst.com


Outplacement Consultants

Drake Beam Morin
dbm.com

Forty Plus of Central Ohio
www.iwaynet.net/~40plusoh

Lee Hecht Harrison Inc.
www.lhlh.com

Right Associates
www.right.com

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:06

Fulfilling a dream

After seven years of leasing warehouse space for his custom-fulfillment business, Bo Hindall was getting a powerful itch to buy it. Hindall, owner of Inquiry Systems Inc. in Grandview, recently got his wish when he landed a U.S. Small Business Administration-backed loan of $450,000.

Hindall used the SBA 504 loan program, which helps business owners buy land and construct or purchase buildings. He provided 10 percent of the financing for the 16,900-square-foot facility on Goodale Boulevard and Oxley Road. The remainder came from his lender, Fifth Third Bank. It took about three months to get the loan, he says.

Inquiry Systems processes advertising sales inquiries, those cards that pop up in trade magazines and shows. To fill requests promptly, the company maintains a supply of sales literature and promotional items ∠ from coffee mugs to golf balls.

Inquiry Systems also offers 14 computer-generated reports that allow a company to see how well its advertising dollars are working. Hindall notes it is vital to track the "bounce-back card," the request that comes back after the first order is filled. "They're the hot prospects," he says. "They have an above-average interest in a product and about 71 percent of them make a purchase decision within 120 days."

A fast-growing aspect of Inquiry Systems is light assembly and hand collation, often of three-ring binders and pocket folders. Sometimes these items wind up in the warehouse, waiting for orders. The company employs six full-time and 20 part-time employees and has about 15 clients, including Ashland Chemical Co., Bath and Body Works and OSU Hospitals.

Hindall praises the counselors at Columbus Countywide Development Corp., a nonprofit agency that assists business owners in getting SBA loans, for their help in managing the paperwork and scheduling the closing associated with the loan. "It would have been a daunting process without them," he says.



SBA lending activity in Central Ohio

Glassburn Body Shop Inc., Westerville, $1,250,000

Microtel Inn, Grove City, $1,000,000

David J. Downey & Associates Inc., Gahanna, $600,000

Inquiry Systems Inc., Columbus, $450,000

Dee Printing Inc., Columbus, $273,500

B. Ryan Carpets, Columbus, $259,000

C. L. Becker & Associates Inc., Columbus, $250,000

Dumar/Huntson Paving Inc., Columbus, $213,000

Functional Training Services Inc., Columbus, $210,000

Buffalos Pine Cafe, Newark, $100,000

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration, Columbus District Office

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:06

Columbus health-care leader

Accomplishments

  • Physiatrist, Mount Carmel Medical Center
    We take care of people with an entire gamut of problems: musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis, neck pain, sprains, sports injuries, chronic low-back pain and headaches, to the more serious neurological musculoskeletal disorders like strokes and head injuries. We try to improve the way people do things in life with a minimum amount of pain and a maximum amount of function.

  • Assistant clinical professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, The Ohio State University
    I'm a graduate of Ohio State and I did my residency there. Ever since then, I've been on the teaching faculty. I have residents who rotate through Mount Carmel. I teach classes in areas such as ice therapy, fibromyalgia, the Social Security disability system and the realities of practicing medicine in today's world.

  • Former president, Ohio State Medical Association
    When I was president of OSMA, managed care was just rolling into Ohio, and one of the things we did was to set up a very large educational effort for our physicians on what managed care is, what managed care could be, what managed care may be. We also had a very large program educating physicians on identifying family violence in areas such as child, spousal and elderly abuse.

  • Former president, Columbus Medical Association
    The Columbus Medical Association, formerly known as The Academy of Medicine of Columbus, started Physicians Health Plan. PHP was the first managed care product in the Columbus area, and it was designed and instituted by physicians.

  • Ohio delegate, American Medical Association
    I'm among 14 delegates from Ohio elected to serve a two-year term. We go to an AMA meeting twice a year and debate all kinds of articles of interest to physicians and patients.

    In the mid-1980s, the state medical association passed a resolution recommending banning corporal punishment in the schools. We took the resolution to the AMA. They studied it for a year and came back with a [similar] resolution. Once that was passed, I took the resolution to Dublin and they passed a resolution banning corporal punishment in the Dublin schools. Subsequently, most public school districts [in Ohio] banned corporal punishment in public schools.

  • Vice president, Columbus Medical Association Foundation
    This past year, we gave out about $1.3 million in grants to different facets of the community for different projects. The Heart Association's project last year, where they had people in the barbershops taking blood pressure, was totally funded by the foundation. It also funds the Physicians Free Clinic that works out of the Columbus Health Department and a tobacco initiative for youth smoking education.

  • Wife and mother of two grown sons
    I always said that medicine was a wonderful career for women, and the reason was that I think it's more flexible. Once you get your education, you can do anything. You can work as many hours as you want, and you can quite frequently take time off if you want.

Monday, 22 July 2002 10:04

Developing independence

With the expiration of her five-year lease looming, Maria Tray was anxious to move her software-development company from its high-cost quarters in a Dublin corporate park.

Thanks to a U.S. Small Business Administration-backed loan of $625,000, Tray-the 50-year-old president of Shared Resources Inc.-got her wish. Just three days before her lease expired, she relocated to a 5,500-square-foot site she built with SBA assistance on Sawmill Road and Federated Boulevard, about a quarter-mile east of the Dublin Village Shopping Center.

Curiously, she did not move to get more space. The new site is just 1,100 square feet larger than the Dublin office, and Tray plans to rent out 1,500 square feet to a tenant. She says she is able to more efficiently use the space at the new location, and adds that owning a facility gives her more control over her expenses and lends her company a sense of longevity and stability.

Tray got her funding through the SBA 504 loan program, which is designed to help established business owners build or purchase company sites. Under its guidelines, she came up with 10 percent of the loan as a down payment from her personal finances. Tray says the requirement was half of what she had anticipated.

Shared Resources began as a partnership in 1987 with Tray, a partner and a single client. Within two weeks of incorporating, the twosome hired their first software-development associate.

Today, the company has 13 active clients, including Huntington Bank, Nationwide Insurance and Highlights for Children. With 55 employees, including 10 in a Cincinnati regional office, Tray links the company's success to providing quality customer service.

"If a client comes to us with an issue, we see that as a failure, because we should always identify problems before the client does," she says.

Tray credits Columbus Countywide Development Corp. and her lender, Champaign National Bank in Dublin, for helping her get through the loan process in about six weeks. She found Columbus Countywide's checklists for the application and closing procedures especially helpful.

"CCDC knew we were on a tight time frame for the approval process," says Tray. "They held my hand all the way through."


SBA lending activity in Central Ohio

Quick Solutions Inc., Columbus, $961,000

SEM Partners Inc., Westerville, $800,000

Shared Resources Inc., Columbus, $625,000

HealthServe LLC, Columbus, $600,000

G.L. Gentry Electric, Columbus, $165,000

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration, Columbus District Office

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