Success Stories

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 Stories

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

2017 America’s SBDC Impact

America’s SBDC: National Impact Report
Local counselors, nationwide outreach. Driving Small Business Growth.

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
SBA’s Alabama  Small Business of the Year 2012

In the last three years, Robin Gregorius has designed, built, and maintained a New Orleans style assisted living facility in a rural area of Mobile County.  Learn how she transformed $2300 into a successful business with help from the SBDC at the University of South Alabama.

Gilpin & Company, Birmingham
SBA’s Alabama Small Business Exporter of the Year 2011

This packaging company used an export working capital loan and assistance from the Alabama International Trade Center to double sales in worst three years of the economic recession.  They’re exporting to over 40 countries now.

I-Deal Fitness, Hamilton

Fitness center off to a healthy start!

Tanya Hall has always dreamed of owning her own business. However, Hall was stuck and she needed help in making her dream a reality, so she turned to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the University of North Alabama.


BrightStar Healthcare, Birmingham 

Veteran-owned start-up uses SBA financing to grow, now employs 170 people.


Process Barron, Pelham

This small company manufactures massively huge fans and equipment, and relied on export sales to help weather the economic downturn.  The Alabama International Trade Center helped them with export credit insurance, financing options, and payment terms.

To Your Health Sprouted Flour, Fitzpatrick, AL

The SBDC at Troy University and AITC team up to help this organic flour company sprout new business.