SelfInformed

May 2011


The NASE Awards $84,483 In Growth Grants

Monday, May 02, 2011
Read this article in PDF form here.


17 NASE Members Receive Funding For Business Development


A photography studio. A financial education firm. A computer repair company. Each of these micro-businesses—plus 14 more—were awarded an NASE Growth Grant in 2010.

Since the grant program began in 2006, the association has awarded more than $525,000 to businesses owned by NASE Members.

The timing of the grants for 2010 couldn’t have been better, says Robert Hughes, president of the NASE.

“The economy is struggling to get back on track,” he says. “And small businesses will be the engine that revs up the recovery. These grants are our way of helping keep the rebound on track.

“The NASE continues to advocate for more lending to micro-businesses. But until that money gets flowing, these grants provide important working capital for our members. We’re pleased that these grants can contribute even a small part to the success and growth of these micro-businesses.”

Here’s a look at how a few NASE Members put their grant money to work.

The Builders
Jeff Wynn and Linda Condy
Joined the NASE in 2006
Business name: Condy and Wynn, Original Woodworking & Furniture Design
Website: condyandwynn.com
Business location: Spring City, Pa.
Number of years in business: 26

This husband and wife team isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

They design and make original furnishings crafted in Pennsylvania cherry, walnut and white oak logs that are sawn and dried on the premises. And they run their company out of a converted barn behind their house.

Today, most of their work comes from churches and other liturgical commissions. For example, they recently prepared a proposal for work on a spiritual center being built on Long Island. The proposal included the altar, pulpit, cross and other furnishings.

"Wood has to be very stable and very dry especially with what we do when using thick wood," says Jeff Wynn. "Creating curves out of it—if it’s not uniformly dried through its thickness, it distorts the curve and messes up what we’re trying to do.

 

"We are using the grant funds to build a kiln that will control the heat gain so that our wood doesn’t dry too fast,” he explains. "A lot of our church work is with very thick wood that takes a long time to dry. If you hurry the process of drying, it can crack and degrade the wood."

Wynn says that the NASE grant will give them more control over the hardwood they use in their work. And more control will contribute to higher quality craftsmanship.

“Fortunately there are some clientele that appreciate the work and craftsmanship that goes into what we’re trying to do,” says Wynn.

And fortunately, the kiln purchased with their NASE grant promises to help them grow their business without compromising their tradition of craftsmanship.

“I only have so much room to work, and when we assemble projects that need a lot more space, it can be a problem,” Wynn says. “The kiln will allow us to store wood not in our working area. If we have quite a few piles of dried wood from the kiln that we don’t anticipate an immediate use for, we could maybe market the lumber and increase our cash flow and our sales that way. It [the kiln] will help in a lot of ways with productivity and increasing our receipts.”

The Producers
Ron Gregory
Joined the NASE in 2005
Business name: G2 Media
Website: g2mediasite.com
Business location: Rockville, Md.
Number of years in business: 8

G2 Media provides creative design, production and development services to small and medium-size businesses. Although it’s just a small two-person, home-based shop, owners Ron Gregory and his wife, Barbara Grunbaum, have big plans.

And the NASE Growth Grant that they received in 2010 is helping them turn those plans into reality.

“The grant is allowing us to provide a better product because our capabilities have been expanded,” says Gregory. “I think it will also result in more overall income because now we don’t have to go out-of-house for certain services.”

The pair used their grant money to increase their computing power with a new iMac and updated software.

“This new equipment is starting to pay off,” Gregory says. “My wife is a documentary writer and filmmaker. She has written and is producing a Civil War documentary for Montgomery County, Maryland. One of the county historical heritage groups hired my wife to write, produce and direct a documentary on the county’s role in war.

“Usually she will create a script, and we will shoot everything in high-def video. When we get into post-production, we will hire out the editing.”

By purchasing new equipment with the NASE grant funds, Gregory and his wife can complete much of the post-production work themselves. And that means keeping a good chunk of the post-production budget money in-house, too.

“Honestly, the money we are saving from doing things in-house is probably more than the grant already.” Gregory says. “Eventually, we want to do even more of the editing in house. I’ve always had the skill set to do this work; I just haven’t had the system.”

Now, thanks to the NASE, G2 Media has the system and capabilities it needs to grow.

The Transcriber
Diana McCaslin
Joined the NASE in 2005
Business Name: MedLinks
Transcription Inc.
Website: med-links.net
Business location: Maryville, Tenn.
Number of years in business: 6

Diana McCaslin co-owns her medical transcription business with two other women, Traci White and Amy Smith.

All of them work out of their homes.

McCaslin says the company doesn’t have any problems finding employees. The total count now is six full-time workers and 23 part-timers.

But, she says, clients are sometimes harder to find.

“Marketing is a big challenge,” McCaslin says. “We’ve tried several different things like purchasing a marketing list of telephone numbers and paying people to make phone calls. We’ve sent postcards as mailings.”

McCaslin wanted to set her sights on conferences where she can meet face-to-face with potential clients, which include administrators of medical groups, hospitals and medical associations.

“The trouble was finding extra money to pay to go to conferences, as there are fees incurred in having a booth,” McCaslin says.

That’s where the NASE grant comes in.

“It’s actually what we’ve done with the grant. We paid for our entry fees to have a booth and be a vendor at conferences in North Carolina and Tennessee.”

McCaslin didn’t stop there with her new marketing strategy. She also decided to investigate government bids and contracts for transcription services.

“We are going to take some of the grant money to have a proposal written for us,” she explains. “We found a company that does that, and to have the bid written by people who do this should give us a chance to get this contract with the Navy.”

And landing a government contract could mean explosive growth for MedLinks Transcription.

“It could double us in size. We could hire 30 more employees. It could really grow our business.”

McCaslin admits that she’s nervous as well as excited about the possibilities that the NASE grant has provided to her business.

And there’s one more emotion, too.

“We’re tickled to death about winning the grant.”

The Designer
Nicole Pulley
Joined the NASE in 2008
Business name: Interior Affairs
Website: interioraffarissa.com
Business location: San Antonio, Texas
Number of years in business: 5

Timing is everything for Nicole Pulley.

Before launching Interior Affairs, she served as director of education for the San Antonio Apartment Association for 14 years. Those years gave her extensive knowledge of the multifamily housing industry and a thorough understanding of the needs of the owners.

So when she launched Interior Affairs in 2006, Pulley’s experience allowed her to meet the exact needs of the multifamily niche market. Her home-based company focuses on interior decorating and design for existing apartment complexes, new construction, senior communities and more.

She specializes in clubrooms, leasing centers, offices, fitness centers and every other interior aspect of a multifamily community. The challenge, says Pulley, is timing—pitching the right services to the right person at the right time.

The $5,000 grant she received from the NASE should help her meet that challenge in a number of ways.

Pulley says that she purchased professional marketing materials, including brochures that showcase her company’s capabilities. She also participated in trade shows to promote Interior Affairs. And she plans to expand her business by hiring an employee.

“I’m hoping that by using the grant funds wisely, they will help increase business and increase exposure and allow us to get more business, get more regular clients, and continue growing the business,” Pulley says.

“I’m thankful to the NASE for the opportunity to help grow my small business and am looking forward to
a prosperous future.”

More NASE Grant Recipients

The NASE also awarded Growth Grants to these members in 2010.

Pat Bennett of Wicked Coursing in La Mesa, Calif.
Bernard Bonin of Bernie’s Italian Ice in South Hadley, Mass.
Latifa Bradwell of Epartykits.com in Detroit, Mich.
Ilana Diallo of Hand In Hand Financial in Charlotte, N.C.
Edward Frye of Frye Brothers Plumbing Inc. in Finleyville, Pa.
Edward Guerentz of Specialty Home Improvement in Cary, Ill.
Todd Gustafson of ComputerSolutions LLC in Rockland, Maine
Tracey Ingram of Institute of Accent Modification in Chicago, Ill.
Vicki Meyerhoff Smith of Bigfork Bigphoto in Bigfork, Mont.
Karen Moloney Delpha of KMD Billing in Norristown, Pa.
Andrea Robertson of Fight Call LLC in Phoenix, Ariz.
Michael Wolniewicz of MW Furniture Design in Chester Gap, Va.
Sheila Wyne of Sheila Wyne Studios in Anchorage, Alaska


Apply For A $5,000 NASE Growth Grant
Since 2006, the NASE has awarded more than $525,000 to NASE Members just like you. Your micro-business could be selected for an NASE Growth Grant of up to $5,000 in 2011.

These grants can be used for marketing, advertising, hiring employees, expanding facilities and to meet other specific business needs.

To be eligible for an NASE grant, you must:
  • Be an NASE Member in good standing
  • Demonstrate a business need that could be fulfilled by the grant 
  • Provide a detailed explanation of how you will use the grant proceeds 
  • Show how the grant will improve your business growth and success 
  • Offer supporting documentation such as a résumé and business plan
To apply for an NASE Growth Grant of up to $5,000, just click here.

NASE Growth Grants are awarded at the sole discretion of the NASE. Unfortunately, not everyone who applies will receive a grant. Decisions of the selection committee are final and are not subject to appeal. No application feedback will be given.

Read this article in PDF form here.

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