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Success Stories & Impact


Success Stories

SARCORP: Engineering Success

SARCOR, a civil engineering firm, has been in business for 12 years. This is not CEO Selena Rodgers Dickerson’s first business. She started her first business in elementary school. She collected cans to recycle then used the profits to purchase candy. She would then sell the candy

Y&D Enterprises: Pivoting Around COVID

Like so many restaurants impacted by the COVID-related shutdowns, Francesca’s in Troy survived with a little guidance from the SBDC, and some well-timed assistance from the PPP. In 1996, Yanni Tempelis landed in the United States from Greece – Miami to be exact.  When asked what prompted

Maranatha Camp & Conference Center

The CARES Act legislation opened the door to disaster assistance for many nonprofit organizations, allowing them to keep their doors open. Camp Maranatha is a great example of how SBDC Business Advisors helped so many small entities, both for-profit and nonprofit, access disaster resources. Maranatha Camp and

Mission Multiplier: Innovation & Community Building

CEO Jamie Miller spent 10+ years working for a major IT consultancy in Washington, DC, but wanted to leave the ‘madness” of Washington, DC; so that he could build a new business model that focused on the philosophy of innovation, people engagement, and community building. This idea

MGT Manufacturing: GO-KOT

GO-KOT® designs, manufactures, and sells the highest quality camping cots made.  The brand has been produced in Alabama since 1978 and distributed through an online store, Amazon, and several wholesale export distributors. Teresa Downing has served as President since July of 2017, when she purchased the brand

Irrigation Components International

Founded in 1984, Irrigation Components International (ICI) is the world’s largest distributor of Center Pivot irrigation components and spare parts sales. From gearboxes and center drives, to sprinkler packages, and alignment controls, the company has provided irrigation parts to dealers, distributors, and OEM’s for over 30 years. 

C&B Associates: A taxing time with COVID

C & B Associates, LLC is a financial services firm specializing in tax preparation and tax advance loans. The timing of the pandemic could not have been much worse: tax season, when most tax firms generate their most revenue. Mr. James Crawford has been working with the

Kirkland: Saving & Buying Restaurants in a pandemic

Mr. Kirkland owns a convenience store, Kirklands, and a fast-food restaurant which is called King Chick and have been in business for years. He has 22-25 employees full time and part time for the two businesses. He was also interesting in purchasing another local restaurant called Bimbos

Diamond Fortress – Exporting Biometric Security

Diamond Fortress Technologies Inc. (DFT) is a Birmingham-based biometric security software firm.  Started in 2012, the company was the first to successfully develop a patent-pending software-based biometric solution that uses a device’s camera to capture a user’s unique fingerprint.  In order to survive financially, DFT knew that

Gumptown Magazine

Jamal Thomas is a native of Cleveland Ohio. A first-generation college student, Jamal enrolled in Alabama State University in 2002. There he was a member of the Mighty Marching Hornet Band, Phi Beta Lambda Professional Business Fraternity, and Delta Mu Delta Honors Society. In 2007, Jamal with

The Bottling Plant – A Refreshing New Venue in Opelika

Following a successful career coordinating events and fundraisers for non-profits, Lisa Ditchkoff embraced the idea of starting her own event business. After relocating from Oklahoma to Alabama and looking for a job, she sought an outlet that would combine her strong work ethic with her heart for

Buckets & Belles – A Clean Path to Success

Laura Hooks graduated from Jacksonville State University with a degree in finance, and started her career at a bank and then at an investment firm.  In early 2014, Laura chose to leave the workforce so she could spend more time raising her children.   It did not take

Pike Equipment Rental – Childhood Friends Create a “One Stop Shop”

Pike Equipment Rental specializes in construction equipment rental services and sales of contractor supplies.  Located in Troy, Alabama, the company is co-owned and operated by Kendall Allen and Allen Sullivan.  They purchased the business in 2015; however, this story actually begins much earlier.  As kids growing up

Bama Bed & Breakfast – Managing Growth

Inspired by a family vacation experience, school teachers Kim and Marc Roberts decided to try their hands at operating a bed and breakfast in Tuscaloosa. The idea struck Kim first. She stayed up all night researching the market, operations, and any information she could get her hands

Back Forty Beer- Tapping into Export Markets

Back Forty Beer Company, established in 2009, is Alabama’s largest craft brewery and one of the leading and fastest-growing craft breweries in the nation.  The company manufactures and markets a variety of premium craft beers, as well as craft beer vinegar.  Their product portfolio includes six beers

Veterans Cleaning Solutions: Now Hiring Veterans

Army Aviators Jim McDonough and John Cappadoro started Veterans Cleaning Solutions LLC in July 2011 in the military town of Enterprise, Alabama; however, the journey that got them to that point started years earlier.   Jim and John met after being recruited for a select assignment on the

Biscuit Leather – Hand-crafted success

In 2015, Becky Stayner approached the Alabama Small Business Development Center (“SBDC”) Network on referral from Suzanne Martin – a former administrator at Samford University and the client’s neighbor – who had an informal relationship with the program.  Becky’s dream centered on the creation of handmade leather

JaWanda’s Sweet Potato Pie: Sweet Success!

“This is Matt…he’s been with me since the very beginning, and we can’t thank him enough for all the support he’s offered…” -JaWanda Jackson “You’re gonna learn how to cook…” – that’s what JaWanda Jackson’s mother said as a young girl.  After her marriage to her husband

LE Energy – Strategies for Growth

In 2013, Cliff Hare and Philip Cato combined their years of experience in the natural gas markets to form LE Energy, the parent company of two retail energy providers: Utility Gas and Power LLC and Michigan Natural Gas LLC. Utility Gas & Power is a licensed alternative

G Momma’s Cookies- Making good things happen in Selma

“I like to create, and I love a challenge. I never baked before starting the business, but I had a ‘hunch’ that the product was good enough to get some traction,” stated Robert.  An entrepreneur from a young age, Robert Armstrong dabbled in multiple business ventures before settling

Tender Loving Care – For the kids, for the community

Founded in 1991, Tender Loving Care (TLC) child edu-care center is located in Alberta City, an under-served, low-income suburb of Tuscaloosa, and serves as an educational springboard for children and employees alike. This family-run daycare and education center was born out of a crisis, which served as

Vanguard Pacific – Startup strategy to Contracting success

Sydney Cody says she has lived and operated in what many would call a “man’s world” since she chose to major in engineering at Tulane University. In 2001, Sydney was commissioned as a Naval Officer in the Civil Engineers Corps (CEC), which was 90-percent comprised of men.

Southern Casanova – Barking up the right tree

 They say that every dog has its day and in this case the success of Southern Casanova is no exception. Named after his beloved Labrador Retriever Casanova, Erik Hussey began creating his own line of clothing featuring the silhouette of his lab while still a student at

Carter Pecan – Rural company from Brundidge cracks the export market

Being located off-the-beaten path hasn’t stopped overseas buyers from finding a thriving agribusiness supplier in rural Brundidge, Alabama.  What they discovered is something unique to the Southern United States – a tasty nut from America’s Native pecan tree.  The Carter Pecan Company specializes in selling American-grown pecans

Williams Group: From serving the country to serving the community

Growing up in Boligee, Alabama, the smallest county in the state and a community stricken by poverty, Michael Williams was no stranger to hard work.  As a teen, he worked alongside his father in construction building skills in craftsmanship and learning to make quick determinations about what

MD Thomas: Constructing a Successful Small Business

Those that meet and those that know Laura Thomas would never say that she is disadvantaged in any way because she manages a beautiful family, gives back to her church and community, and owns and operates several successful companies.  The truth is that Laura Thomas with her

EOL Logistics – Customer Driven Family Business

The owners of EOL Logistics, LLC in Lincoln, AL, built the business with the ultimate goal of passing their legacy on to their children and grandchildren.  The owners started with one truck and a dream of having a fleet of straight trucks and tractor trailers.  EOL Logistics

Something Ele’Gant Florals – 25 years and counting

Diane Rowell came to the Alabama SBDC at the University of North Alabama over 25 years ago with her sister, who was looking at starting a business.    Diane, at that time, was doing home décor shows in homes and starting her own business was a long-range goal.  

Life Coach Service – Gut Instinct, Serving the trucking indsutry

Carolyn O’Byrne is the wife of a second-generation truck driver.   She knew first-hand the many issues that truck drivers face with their family, health and just being on the road.   She started Life Coach Service, LLC to focus on serving the trucking industry.   Through the business, Carolyn


Success Story Archive

Back Forty Beer: Tapping into Export Markets

Biscuit Leather: Hand-crafted success

G Mommas Cookies: Making good things happen in Selma

Tender Loving Care: Post-tornado growth for kids, for the community

Southern Casanova: Barking up the right tree

Vanguard Pacific LLC: From startup strategy to contracting success

Life Coach Service: Gut Instinct, Serving the trucking industry

Something Ele’Gant Florals & Gifts: 25 years of progress

LE Energy: Strategy for Growth

Carter Pecan: Rural company in Brundidge cracks the export market

JaWanda’s Sweet Potato Pie: Sweet Success!

Veterans Cleaning: How Hiring Veterans

EOL Logistics: Customer Driven, Family Owned

MD Thomas: Constructing a Successful Small Business

Williams Group: Serving the country, Serving the community

Hornsby Steel: Export Success

CrossFit on the Plains

AutoSport Bodyworks

Mason Music

Piedmont Outdoor

Family First Chiropractic

Federal Disaster Recovery Corporation (FDRC)

Audi Mescal

Country Gables Assisted Living, Mobile