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6 Entrepreneurs Share Keys to Success in New SBA Series

What can you do with a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan? Quite a lot, according to the six very successful companies featured in a new video series from the SBA and payroll company ADP.

The “America’s Best” series shares keys to success, best practices and lessons learned for today’s entrepreneurs .

Told from the perspective of company founders and key executives, the videos profile once-small U.S. businesses that share remarkable stories of entrepreneurism, growth and success, the SBA said. They are part of the SBA’s ongoing effort to celebrate entrepreneurship and provide small business owners and startups with relevant programs and resources to help them grow their businesses and create jobs.

“Throughout its history, SBA has provided critical support to tens of thousands of startups and small businesses,” said SBA administrator Karen Mills. “This series highlights the stories of six of those firms and shares best practices and lessons learned that can be helpful to other entrepreneurs and small business owners who are working every day to grow their businesses and achieve their own piece of the American dream.”

Featured companies in the “America’s Best” video series include:

  • Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation, Port Washington, Wisc. - Established in 1922, Allen Edmonds operates 32 retail stores in 17 states, and is among a small minority of companies that produce the majority of their shoes domestically. Between 1979 and 1989, Allen Edmonds received SBA-guaranteed 7(a) loans totaling $2,265,000.
  • Cerner Corporation, Kansas City, Mo. - In 1979, the three founders, Neal Patterson, Cliff Illig and Paul Gorup, sat around a picnic table and decided to create a company. Today, Cerner Corporation is an industry leader in medical system design. In 1983, Cerner received a $200,000 7(a) loan and a SBA- licensed Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) financing of $630,000 in 1986.
  • Columbia Sportswear Company, Portland, Ore. - Rescued from near bankruptcy, Gert Boyle took over operations of Columbia, started by her parents, and turned it into a $1 billion company. The business received an SBA-backed loan for $15,000 in 1970.
  • The Gymboree Corporation, San Francisco - Joan Barnes created Gymboree in 1976 as a place where moms and their children could play and exercise. Since then, it has become a giant corporation that includes almost 600 Gymboree retail clothing stores and nearly 300 Gymboree Play and Music centers worldwide. Over the years, the corporation received investments totaling nearly $5 million from a SBA-licensed SBIC.
  • Radio One, Inc., Lanham, Md. - Among the largest African-American owned and operated media corporations in the United States, Radio One was started by Catherine L. Hughes in 1980. Radio One owns and/or operates 53 radio stations located in 16 urban markets in the United States. The company received investments totaling $9.5 million from SBA-licensed SBICs in the late 1990s. Hughes also received an SBA-guaranteed 7(a) loan for $600,000 in 1980.
  • Ruiz Foods, Dinuba, Calif. - Founded in 1964, Ruiz Foods is the top seller of frozen Mexican dishes in the United States. Under the brand names of El Monterey and Tornados, it produces nearly 200 varieties of frozen Mexican foods. Ruiz Foods co-founder Fred Ruiz benefitted from technical assistance through SBA-affiliated SCORE counselors and also received SBA-guaranteed 7(a) loans in 1977 and 1979 totaling $275,000.

The videos can be viewed on the SBA web site.