Kevin and Steve made a conscious decision to hire veterans for the workforce needed to meet the contract. They also decided to use SCORE to help navigate the treacherous waters of being a new small business with a very large order.
Attending meetings at Milwaukee SCORE, Kevin and Steve met with counselor Joan Burke. They were given checklists to understand what it takes to start and operate a small business. SCORE mentors, who understood the federal contracting process, were also called upon to assist the Patriot Taxiway team. "There was an awful lot we didn't know" Kevin says. SCORE gave them the framework to ask the right questions that would help them succeed regarding banks, liability insurance and marketing to the federal government.
Jonathan Bekemeyer’s transition from pounding rounds of ammunition in the city of Fallujah to putting on skate clinics for Beaufort skaters straddles two worlds that couldn’t be more different. The success of his skate shop is even more intriguing when considering that the 31-year-old South Carolinian began the venture without any business training or knowledge.
After one year at Florida State University, Jonathan wanted to try something new, so he joined the Marines. Four years later, transferred to Beaufort, S.C., he met his wife while serving as a marksmanship instructor. His deployment to Iraq left a three-month pregnant wife at home. “It was a difficult time. I had to lead my section during pretty volatile situations, and was nervous about my first child being born," he says. "I had to remember, I am missing out on a big thing back home, but I need to keep my mind here right now. I learned early on to make sure that we got each other home alive first. You can worry about other stuff later.”
After 20 years of service in the Navy and an accident while serving that left him 100% disabled, Al Kroell found it extremely difficult to find employment. His wife, Christy, was disabled too and the pair struggled to earn income to support themselves. Luckily Al’s hobby of woodworking, combined with new state-of-the-art technology turned out to be a lucrative business opportunity. ChristyAl Plaques now creates custom laser cut, etched and engraved plaques and gifts.
Starting out, Christy and Al found it nearly impossible to secure a loan due to their lack of current income. Their mentor, Peter Fong, helped them to write a business plan that was so professional, clear and convincing that a bank finally approved their application. The loan allowed them to purchase the machinery necessary to creating such a beautiful, high-quality product. Al says he tried other programs aimed at helping veterans transition into civilian life but none were as helpful as SCORE. He says, “SCORE has been there for us. If it wasn’t for SCORE I wouldn’t be where I am today.”