Susquehanna Fire Equipment Company

Bucknell University SBDC Client Success Story
Extinguishing the Flames of COVID‐19

In 1951, Max Foust Sr. started the Susquehanna Fire Equipment Company selling fire extinguishers out of a garage. Over the last 70 years the company has grown and now proudly provides the most innovative and advanced fire, safety, and suppression equipment and services available to protect lives and property. Today Keith Foust, the 3rd successful generation of ownership, serves as President and leads a firm with 33 employees and two locations.

“The SBDC was a valuable resource and they kept us up to date as information came in.”

Throughout those generations, the company has endured numerous challenges but nothing could have prepared them for the impacts of COVID-19. In March 2020, business as usual was abruptly extinguished: sales declined severely and layoffs were imminent.

As one of the longest-term clients of the Bucknell SBDC - Keith will proudly recall the single-digit “client number” assigned to Susquehanna Fire Equipment Company decades ago - he knew exactly where to turn for help. He reached out to the center for assistance learning about and securing COVID-19 relief funds.

Keith and his team worked quickly and closely with the SBDC as they applied to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL). The company was soon approved for funding through both programs and every employee was happy to report for duty - even if it meant working in new positions and changed conditions than before the pandemic.

By May of that year, Keith began to see a clearing through the smoke and business slowly began to recover. Keith and his team are grateful for the SBDC, and especially for the EIDL program and both rounds of PPP funding that helped Susquehanna Fire Equipment Company survive the flames of the pandemic.

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Bucknell University SBDC Client Success Story
Building a Business in Excellent Shape

TROTFITNESS was created in summer 2011 by husband and wife team, Nisan and Yorelis Trotter. This dynamic duo is transforming the Susquehanna Valley by offering Personal Training, Sports Performance, Fitness Nutrition, and its flagship program "Fit Body Boot Camp."

Nisan '05 attributes his success to Professor Tammy Hiller and Management 101, a project-based course where students create their own companies, as first kindling his entrepreneurial fire. But it took his wife, Yorelis, to finally convince him that they could take that inspiration and passion and build it into a successful business.

Nisan and Yorelis reconnected with Bucknell by seeking business planning and financial analysis assistance from the Small Business Development Center. They also connected with students in the Markets, Innovation, and Design program at Bucknell's School of Management who helped them to explore and develop an innovative marketing strategy. In 2013, they celebrated their second year as co-founders of TROTFITNESS, home of Susquehanna Valley's No. 1 Fitness Boot Camp.
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Jesiah Jireh Early Learning Center

Shippensburg University SBDC Client Success Story
Playing it Safe in a Learning Environment

Dinorah Jerez, owner of the Jesiah Jireh Early Learning Center LLC had just celebrated the birth of her third child, realizing the cost for daycare and wanting to contribute to the household income along with her husband, Fabio Arias, Dinorah decided to become a licensed childcare provider. Dinorah and Fabio are the proud parents of six boys, having adopted 3 of their 6 children. They also have been Foster Parents for more than twelve years. Their love for taking care of children goes beyond their immediate family and Dinorah is proving this every day at the Jesiah Jireh Early Learning Center LLC.

Upon making the decision to start a daycare, Dinorah connected with Barbara Green from Childcare Consultants to obtain her family daycare license. Obtaining her family daycare license gave Dinorah the ability to take care of her newborn son and be available to her school age children while assisting her family financially. After 2 years of successful operations, Dinorah decided to start looking for a building to operate her Center. Having a deep faith, Dinorah prayed for guidance and the property on Carol Road became available for rent.

Seeking financial assistance, Dinorah went to Jill Bollinger with Community First Fund and was referred to Jen Horning, Business Consultant with the Shippensburg University SBDC for assistance with preparing documentation for the loan process. Dinorah said “Honestly, in the beginning I was frustrated at times and was tired mentally and emotionally because when I thought everything was good it was not good enough, but Jen was there for me every step of the way. Jen continued encouraging me and telling what to do.” Jen assisted Dinorah with business and financial planning, along with community trends and research. Dinorah was approved for a SBA loan and most recently received support from the emergency pandemic assistance available to small businesses to endure the challenges brought on by COVID-19.

According to Dinorah,” The pandemic did impact my business but at the same time was a blessing for my business because we received support from the EIDL Program and the PPP.” In a time when many Centers were facing adversity, Jesiah Jireh Early Learning Center LLC was able to remain in operations and even increase their enrollment. Dinorah’s main concern was giving the children of all the parents working on the front line and the essential workers a safe place to learn.

Jesiah Jireh Early Learning Center LLC is making many contributions to the community. The center is committed to quality childcare encouraging children’s inquiring minds and stimulating their developmental growth through active educational play. The young children are immersed in learning and utilizing the Spanish language. The Center is serving families with exceptional care for their children in the York community.Jesiah Jireh Early Learning Center logo

WYElectric LLC

Shippensburg University SBDC Client Success Story
Coworkers with a Shared Vision for a Brighter Future

Crystal Shank and Waylon Yohe began their journey as coworkers at a local contracting company. As the two colleagues worked together and grew in their careers, they performed very different roles as Waylon is a fully certified master electrician, while Crystal’s focus is on operations with a degree in business management. The vision for establishing their
own electrical contracting firm that provided high quality service at a competitive price with a strong focus on customer service grew out of business planning over a six-month period. Together they realized they had the knowledge, skills and experience to make it happen and WYElectric, LLC was created in February of 2019.

According to Crystal and Waylon, “WYElectric is an electrical construction contractor that excels in cost-saving technologies, quality work and strong customer relationships.” Crystal is operations focused and performs all of the job bidding, scheduling, recordkeeping, and budgeting for the business while Waylon’s electrical expertise is utilized working in the field often more than five days a week ensuring the work is completed on time and to a customer’s specifications. Their partnership utilizes the strengths of each individual while also working collaboratively to ensure all aspects of the business are covered to keep the business operating efficiently.

During WYElectric’s startup, Crystal learned about the services of the Shippensburg University SBDC and reached out for assistance in refining her business plan, securing financing, becoming a certified women-owned small business and pursuing government contract work. Crystal remarked how Consultant Jennifer Horning has provided valuable resources of learning and knowledge to assist with their small business needs. However, in early 2020 as the pandemic began to impact WYElectric’s business operations, Crystal was grateful to have Jennifer as a trusted resource to learn more about COVID specific assistance available to small businesses so that WYElectric could utilize the assistance available at the county, state and federal level. In reference to her SBDC Consultant, Crystal commented “I feel like she genuinely cares about what happens to my business.”

WYElectric has experienced slow sustainable growth over the almost three years since it launched despite the challenges the owners have faced with scaling the operation and navigating the pandemic. Together, Waylon and Crystal have created an electrical construction small business that excels in cost-saving technologies, quality and strong relationships with customers, contractors and suppliers. The future is bright for WYElectric as they are not only growing in revenue but employee count in 2021.

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Shippensburg University SBDC Client Success Story
Campground Alternatives…

Mike and Kim Lockwood, owners of UpClose-RV met at a military school in Fort Eustis, Virginia. Both of them spent many years stationed around the country and on deployments in service to our country. While Mike was stationed at Carlisle Barracks attending the Army War College, they fell in love with the small-town environment and decided to become part of the community by buying a home in Carlisle, PA. Mike retired in 2019 as a full colonel with 39 years of total service.

The idea for the company began during his last two years of service when the Army returned him to the DC area. Not wanting to move his family from Carlisle, and in order to save money and time, Mike bought a travel trailer and planned on camping during the week and commuting home on the weekends. However, he discovered that parking his trailer in DC during the week was a problem. Noticing homes where owners had their own RVs parked in their driveways gave Mike an idea. Mike realized he could rent that space out for his trailer and provide the owner with a little extra income. He knew if he needed a place to park, other camping enthusiasts probably did too. An idea was born!

Seeking guidance, Mike attended a First Step Workshop with the Shippensburg University SBDC and a Beginning Entrepreneur Seminar in Carlisle. Robin Burtner, consultant with the Shippensburg University SBDC assisted Kim and Mike with their idea and provided start-up assistance, business planning and market research. Mike also attended two Entrepreneurial Seminars which had SBDC representation while transitioning from the Army.

Like many other businesses, Mike and Kim had a few obstacles along the way. It was a challenge at first to secure the use of properties where RVs could be parked. They also had to build a customer base for those wishing to use another’s property for the parking of their RVs. To rise to the challenge, they began using social media and venue participation trying to attract both. They also attended venues like the Homesteaders of America Conference, The Hershey RV show and other outdoor shows.

UpClose-RV has 14 business partners who have some small equity in the company. These partners include 7 veterans spanning three generations with a total of over 200 years of combined military service. The company has grown to over 140 property listings in 38 states and Canada. The company boasts 6000+ associated RVers in their database, 1500 of which are members of their platform. They are on their way to more expansion and greater success. They have been featured on programs like Fox Business. For your next adventure, check out UpClose-RV and see if there is a perfect spot for your RV.


Soul Smoked BBQ

Shippensburg University SBDC Client Success Story
Feeding the Soul

Be careful what you wish for! For TJ Morton, that motto is ringing true. Last year, TJ contacted the Shippensburg University SBDC to start his small business, Soul Smoked BBQ, LLC. As a self-proclaimed foodie and someone who had perfected the art of smoking meats, TJ was ready to explore the options of starting a food truck business. With the support of his loving wife Heather, who helped make all of this possible, TJ is fully employed at his business and sales have exceeded his expectation.

“I could not have asked for a better Business Consultant than Georgina. ”

Prior to opening his business, TJ managed a 4-million-dollar operation at a company for 16 years. His staff averaged around 23 people and he was responsible for staffing, payroll, production, and scheduling among other things. He said that at the time, he felt overworked at a 9-5 position and thought his job was stressful. TJ jokes that he sometimes thinks longingly about those days, especially when he is up at 5AM to prep his smoker for a full day of catering.

TJ has always loved cooking. He says, "I would stay in the kitchen with my mom every time she cooked. I remember a time when I used to get mad because I thought she was melting the ice cream and I would always ask her why. She told me that it was "lard" but I kept insisting it was ice cream. Well one day she got tired of me asking and she gave me some and let me tell you I never asked that question again! As I'm writing this I can still remember that taste "disgusting". As I got older I became infatuated with the smell of BBQ. I started cooking for the family and I burnt up my fair share of food, but then also they just kept telling me how good it was and I honestly thought they were just being kind and not candid. Then requests started coming in for my BBQ and the light went off; maybe they are being honest. So with my love for cooking and my passion for feeding people's souls, Soul Smoked BBQ LLC was formed."

TJ reached out to the SBDC for advice and he says the help he received was phenomenal. “I jumped into this knowing absolutely nothing. I could not have asked for a better Business Consultant than Georgina. She laid out the blueprint, was always there if I had questions and was extremely candid with me good or bad and yes she hurt my feelings sometime lol, but I never gave up. I followed the blueprint and made it to the finish line. I would not have been able to do this on my own. The Shippensburg University SBDC is totally awesome hands down."

Some of the challenges TJ faced were ones he never considered before starting. The physical challenges of processing 500-800lbs of meat every week, picking up 32 quart pans full of water and 16lbs of cooked noodles sitting in boiling water. Despite the challenges, TJ is garnering a reputation for delicious food and his business is growing. He loves working for himself and choosing his venues. Long-term, he dreams of opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant, but for now, he is concentrating on feeding one soul at a time.

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Hook & Flask Still Works

Shippensburg University SBDC Client Success Story
Not Since Prohibition

Devin Flickinger and Mark Farrell, owners of the Hook and Flask Still Works wanted to capitalize on the growth of the craft spirits industry by starting their own distillery. Mark, a technology sales professional and Devin, a paramedic are supported in accomplishing their dream by their incredible wives and children. Mark and Devin met 14 years ago as volunteer fireman and became friends instantly. They were excited by the idea of being the first distillery in Carlisle since the time of prohibition.

“We can’t say enough good things about Robin and the help she gave our start.”

The pair began by researching the industry and when it came time to develop their business plan they reached out to the Shippensburg University SBDC. Robin Burtner, Business Consultant with the
Shippensburg University SBDC worked with Devin and Mark through the entire process. “Robin was extremely instrumental in helping us with our business plan,” according to Devin. Upon securing a location, and with financing from a SBA loan, they were able to identify the equipment and supplies they would need for the business. Robin introduced Mark and Devin to local contacts and resources and continues to check in with them to this day.

Devin is the distiller and handles that end of the business, while Mark manages the operations of the business including the front of the house and outside sales. They are celebrating their one year anniversary of opening their doors and are hoping to be fully employed by the business soon.

The Hook and Flask Still Works has faced challenges during their first year, most notably the unforeseen impact caused by COVID–19. True to their mission of serving the community and honoring all firefighter and emergency service personnel, they made a change to produce hand sanitizer and distribute it for free to their local police departments, fire houses, Emergency Responders, medical offices and nursing homes during the first few months of the pandemic. Once other local businesses began to reopen again, they distributed to them as well.

To remain viable as a business, Mark and Devin offered delivery and takeout service during the stay at home order. With limited seating due to COVID-19 there continues to be a gap in sales for the business and COVID-19 has limited their plans for expansion, but the partners remain optimistic. As Mark said “we continue to adjust and plan for the future.” Stop by the Hook and Flask Still Works and raise a glass in support and honor of these courageous spirits!

Hook & Flask Still Works

Thrive Fitness

Shippensburg University SBDC Client Success Story
Having the Drive to Thrive!

Zach Detwiler, owner of Thrive Fitness, LLC saw a need for fitness beyond the typical gym setting. During the past nine years, Zach has served the York community in many ways including managing a fitness center with a team of personal trainers, providing training to his own group of clients and expanding that outreach to service the wellness needs of local businesses. Zach expressed his passion for his work by commenting “ I’ve seen the impact that movement and healthy habits have had on my life and that has inspired me to help others on their journeys.”

As Zach prepared to branch out on his own, as a first-time entrepreneur, he didn’t hesitate in reaching out to find resources to support him, including the services provided by Shippensburg University SBDC. In April of 2019, Zach established Thrive Fitness, LLC with the plan to offer personal training & wellness coaching services in his clients’ homes, at a rented studio space and outdoors. This kept his overhead low and provided him the opportunity to cater to the active, over 50 client he was looking to target with his services.

“Jennifer Horning has provided me many resources and connections that I couldn’t have achieved on my own.”

He met with Jennifer Horning, Business Consultant, on multiple occasions and was receptive to any guidance or resources that were provided to him. Over several months, the SBDC assisted Zach with general startup assistance, creating a business plan, developing projections, providing research assistance and helping with his marketing initiatives. Zach said “Meeting with Jennifer helped me focus in on areas that I needed to grow in, in order to move forward and grow as a business.”

He faced a few obstacles through his first year but nothing could have prepared him for the pivot he had to make when faced with the restrictions created by COVID–19. Zach was forced to find an alternative platform to provide the in-person training he and his clients had become accustomed. “COVID – 19 caused me to rethink my entire business model,” said Zach. Needing to adapt quickly to keep the business afloat, Zach reached out to all of his individual and institutional clients to offer virtual options. Within one week, he was able to transition 90 % of his in-person clients to adapt to his virtual offerings. Since then, Thrive Fitness has continued to grow its virtual offerings as well as its client base.

In fact, Zach has recently broken into a new market with his services by working with companies that employ manual laborers to conduct baseline physical screenings of employees in fields such as construction, plumbing and heating. Additionally, starting in September of 2020, Zach has established
a partnership with a local non-profit organization to provide a grant-funded program benefiting the health of older adults.

Zach has shown his ability to grow and pivot with changing dynamics of his business. However, he knows if there is anything he would like to talk through or get assistance with he can reach out to the SBDC at anytime. In the meantime, he will to continue to build relationships in his community and inspire others on their health and fitness journeys guided by his mission to help active, older adults in his community maintain optimal health as they age.

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Boots To Health

Shippensburg University SBDC Client Success Story
Operation Health and Wellness…

Logan Spiewak, the owner of Boots to Health PA, LLC has a passion for spreading positivity among his community. After graduating from high school, Logan joined the United States Marine Corps. He served his country for several years as a Marine and after leaving the military a year ago, decided his career would not be bound by a position in an office setting working 9 to 5 every day. Logan said, “I don’t mind hard work... so, if I could work for myself, I would do that all day.

Mixing his passion for people and addiction to the gym, Logan decided to open Boots to Health. His own love for fitness and recognizing the need for others to become healthier mentally and physically gave him the drive for the kind of gym he would design for future clients. Logan commented, “If I can impact as many people as possible that is so cool.”

There were a few steppingstones along the way to starting the business. According to Logan, seeking finance was a big hurdle and his biggest challenge. Lenders were hesitant to work with someone who was a young entrepreneur starting his first business. Seeking guidance, Logan attended a Boots to Business workshop and through the Veterans Affairs Office of Cumberland County discovered the Shippensburg University SBDC. Bruce Krell, Business Consultant with the Shippensburg University SBDC assisted Logan with his idea and provided start-up assistance, business planning and market research. Logan said, “Bruce helped me pull the trigger and just go for it.”

Boots to Health provides individual personalized programs for each member. With the program, members will be held accountable for their health goals. Services include one-on-one daily messaging and weekly accountability calls. Catering to veterans and first responders is a priority for Logan, but his mission extends to the entire public community. Logan hopes his gym can be a place where people find their inner strength, recognize their worth and go forward to living their best life. With his plan to spread positivity, peace and commitment, those in the local communities will feel his impact.

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The Goldfish Barn Event Center

Shippensburg University SBDC Client Success Story
A Vision to Restore a Piece of History

Keith and Suzanne Johnson saw the potential in a property called TheGoldfish Barn. The previous owners of the property were using it as a gift shop for their hatchery, raising goldfish and koi. Suzanne and Keith wanted to preserve the history of the barn restoring it to its original beauty but with a few modern touches. A space where memories and joy would be created.

Keith and Suzanne both working full time, with Keith running his own business and Suzanne an Administrator and live-in parent for a group home, decided to take on another adventure. Suzanne envisioned the property as an event venue, but sharing her vision with the previous owners they declined saying it would be too big of a venture for them at this point in their lives and offered to sell the property to Keith and Suzanne.

Realizing they needed support to obtain their financial adventure, they began discussions with Orrstown Bank. It was Orrstown Bank that referred them to the Shippensburg University SBDC. Consultant Cheryl Young with the SBDC began working with Keith and Suzanne in September of 2017. The business plan they developed helped them look toward the future and assisted them with determining the goals of the business.

The property was purchased in December of 2017, it took 8 months to restore and update the site. The two-story barn features 6,000 square feet of space inside with an additional 2,400 square feet of covered space outside. They opened for the first event in August of 2018. The property is able to accommodate a variety of events, including weddings, proms, birthday parties and other gatherings.

The Goldfish Barn has provided the community with economic revenue. Local contractors and vendors have profited from the events being held at the Barn. Suzanne and Keith offered the space to a family looking to raise money for their son’s medical bills. An event was held and an overwhelming $26,000 was raised that weekend to support this family. They continue to give back to the community by donating to local events and charities.

Their property slogan is, “We are much more than just a barn venue. We are a weekend wedding experience.” The Goldfish Barn Event Center is currently booked for 2020 and 2021 is filling up fast. They have received more than they could have ever dreamed of by creating this space and it has become a fixture within the community.The Goldfish Barn Event Center logo