Success Stories

Testimonials and Feedback from Surveyed Emerging Leaders Alumni:


SBA Loan & Emerging Leaders Program Make a Concrete Company's Goals Attainable

Jacqui Ortmann knew she wanted a career in business from a very young age. As a high school student, she took a job at a fast food restaurant and was quickly promoted to assistant manager. When she married Doug Ortmann, her high school sweetheart, they combined her talent for managing a business with his passion for working with concrete and launched Ortmann Concrete in 2003.

For the first 11 years, they ran the business from their home with Jacqui managing the budget, human resources, marketing strategies, and the overall business plan. The equipment was stored in their yard, which is also where their employees reported for work each morning. They had outgrown the space and were looking for a place to rent. ... Read More

Family Owned Small Business Gets Transition Help with SBA’s Leaders Program

Deneen Pottery was established in St. Paul, Minn., in 1972 by Peter and Mary. Initially operating out of a two-car garage, today it occupies over 50,000-square-foot facility and employs over 80 skilled craftspeople who produce about 2,800 mugs every day. Each piece is hand-thrown on a potter’s wheel, touched by over 24 pairs of hands, and customized with a Glaze-Engraved™ medallion. Niles Deneen, Peter and Mary’s son has been the company’s president since 2012, after starting in an entry-level position nearly 20-years earlier, and is responsible for all major operational, administrative, marketing and staffing decisions.

Transitioning a business from one generation to the next comes with challenges big and small. As Peter and Mary were increasingly ready to step away from the day to day, Niles reached out to the SBA for help through the Emerging Leaders Program to increase his business management skills and confidence... Read More

Wichita’s Brings Handpainted Masterpiece Tributes to Art Lovers Everywhere

What started as an experiment selling hand-painted replicas of original artwork online, has turned into an award winning e-commerce retailer, based in Wichita, Kansas. While David Sasson was selling refurbished personal computers in Wichita in the late 1990s, his brother was selling paintings in California. One day, his brother mentioned that he had found a vendor that was selling inexpensive, handpainted replicas of a few famous pieces of artwork. Seeing a potential sales opportunity, the two brothers decided to test their idea of selling the handpainted replicas on the auction website Read More

SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative Helps a Small Business Grow

The Mills Group, an architectural, planning and preservation firm, located in Morgantown, West Virginia has been in business for nearly 15 years. Michael Mills founded the business with a clear vision for the design of new structures that encompass rich architectural character from the past.

The business has seen great success. Past projects range from the stabilization of an 1834 spring house to a state-of-the-art indoor sports complex with a construction value of $30 million. They have increased sales and employees year after year, but Mills knew a large transition was in the works as he developed a succession plan for the company with the pending retirement of his business partner... Read More

SBA Emerging Leaders Helps Veteran Soar to New Heights

Jeremy Buchheit took a rather unconventional route into business when he started Synergy Medical in 2005. The U.S. Marine Corps veteran had no experience in his chosen industry, no customers to call upon, and worst of all, no products to sell. But by 2007, he had designed, developed, and mass produced 18 products devoted to the prevention of cross contamination and protection of patient care advocates.

In 2007, Buchheit’s products were voted No 1 over five other international conglomerates including the top three Fortune 500 firms in the industry. He contracted with four international manufacturing facilities, developed and maintained a supply chain strategy, and streamlined these products to 25-plus healthcare facilities in a six-state region. This move not only gave him a platform from which to work, but access to advanced technologies in the medical marketplace... Read More