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2016 Rhode Island District Director Award

SBA TRAVIS FINALMelissa Travis’ Never Tiring Support

For Small Businesses Shines

If you have ever met Melissa Travis, it is abundantly clear that her love of what she does and her dedication to helping the small business community in the state, are second to none. Her upbeat and cheerful attitude is infectious to all that cross her path. As the Business Sales Lead at HealthSource RI for Employers, Travis has played a vital role in making the state exchange one of the premiere exchanges in the nation. From choosing providers and plans, to claiming tax credits, Melissa

Travis should always be a small business owner’s first call when it comes to anything involving the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Over the past 3 years, she has helped seemingly countless small businesses navigate the tricky waters of the ACA. She walks them through their options as it pertains to setting up plans that works best for employers and in turn, their employees. Her ability to connect with so many small employers, and truly understand their business’ needs is unique. Every business owner she meets, she is able to make them understand that she is there to help them.

Travis has routinely partnered with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Rhode Island District Office to provide small businesses with seminars and panel discussions about the ACA. Every time an opportunity has arisen to partner with the SBA or other entities around the state, she has been the first to respond and say “whatever needs to be done, I’m in.” More times than can be counted, she has been called upon to put an event together at the last minute, and each and every time she has pulled together a fantastic event at a great location and packs the room.

Her tireless work ethic and dependability are what helps make HealthSource RI for Employers so effective in working with the small businesses in the state. The efficiency of the exchange can be attributed, in large part, to Travis. Her “never say die” attitude and persistence is a great example of the entrepreneurial spirit that runs through the veins of all the small businesses owners she works with. It would be a unconquerable challenge to find someone who works as hard as Melissa Travis does, and Rhode Island is a much better place for small businesses because of the work she does.

For her demonstrated commitment to assisting the small business community of Rhode Island, the U.S. Small Business Administration is pleased to present Melissa Travis with the 2016 Rhode Island SBA District Director Award.

2016 Rhode Island and New England Microenterprise of the Year

DSC_6356Ensuring That Physical Limitations will no longer dictate an independent home life

Linda and Bill Bohmbach, Founder and Owner, Home Healthsmith

Linda and Bill Bohmbach’s story did not start with their business, Home Healthsmith. Linda began her career in consumer products industry with major drug and food retailers, Bill was the owner of his own professional elevator company. While these positions were lucrative and both Bill and Linda were successful they wanted to do more. They believed in helping people and their passionate advocating and volunteering at the MS society allowed them to see how they could.

The Bohmbachs had an idea that they could provide products and services to help clients achieve mobility and safety in their homes. With this thought in mind Bill sold his company to focus full time on bringing this idea to life. Before long the demands of what would become Home Healthsmith ensured that Linda would leave her position to dedicate herself full time as well and by 2012 they had begun their journey to improve the quality of life for their customers.

Linda and Bill began offering solutions to help accommodate a person’s individual in-home needs such as elevators, stair lifts, ceiling lefts, vertical platform lifts, wheelchair ramps, home modifications, installation of grab bars, portable showers, and to her accessibility equipment. They also provide many of these options in rentals which helps to enhance their customers freedom, improve their sense of control and protect their personal dignity.

Home Healthsmith grew quickly and no longer would their in-home operations suffice. Linda began searching for an adequate space and found their first office which allocated them 500 square feet. In less than one year they would once again be searching for a bigger space and by July of 2014 had moved into a 4905 square foot location at 207 High Point #2 in Portsmouth. Even with the space provided Home Healthsmith continued to grow at an astounding rate and once again the need for more space had Linda acquiring an additional 1250 square feet at their current location with a 4000 square coming in Q1 of 2016.

Recently, they have opened The Center for Adaptive Living at High Point in Portsmouth. This is an open environment that allows seniors, disabled individuals, rehab patients and many more including those that want to age-in-place in their homes. They also have architects, builders, PT’s, OT’s, and nurses who bring their expert knowledge to help those who may be interested in learning more about the process. This site also provides incredible training to professionals and is the only applicable site on the east coast and elevates Home Healthsmith above the competition, Linda also added this site isn’t all that separates them from their competitors, “we have a very strong project management where we work with architects and builders on, we also develop relationships with our clients as well as the builders and architects. What we find is that there are competitors out their but they’re not doing what we do, they’re not answering phone calls, they’re not getting back to the client who may have a service issue in a timely manner. People need stair lifts and elevators and in a majority of these cases they need them in order stay safe in their homes or in order for them to even live in their homes.”

For all their success and growth this still is very much a family business with the heart and soul of it being Linda and Bill. Linda felt strongly that even though she was the recipient of this award that she had not done it alone, “This is a team effort and Bill and I couldn’t have done it without each other.” Linda elaborated more on why the company has been so successful, “We have really developed a strong team here and one of the biggest things is that we are striving to have a self-managing company. We’ve empowered our employees to make the right decisions and it is really working with them and allowed them to grow as well.”

For their demonstrated success and potential for future growth, the U.S. Small Business Administration is pleased to honor Linda and Bill Bohmbach, Owners of Home Healthsmith, as the 2016 Rhode Island and New England Microenterprise of the Year.

2016 Rhode Island Home Based Business Champion

Jane McHenry Headshot SBA Home Base BusinessA Day at the Beach Sea Glass Jewelry

Jane McHenry is making waves with her successful at home business

Jane McHenry, owner and chief designer of A Day at the Beach Sea Glass Jewelry, began her career in advertising and publishing. Jane worked her way through the ranks eventually taking a position as a Newspaper Executive. Despite a flourishing 25 year career Jane felt the pull of something long subdued; a childhood fascination with the ocean. As a youth Jane would walk the beaches excitedly collecting the sea glass treasures that had washed up onto the sand. Those memories and that excitement never left Jane and she began to brainstorm on a way to recapture her passion.

McHenry’s initial idea was dreamt up as a clearinghouse to celebrate other local artists and their work but the deeper Jane delved into the process the more her own curiosity and creativity grew. She began taking classes, learning styles and techniques of creating and quickly her passion for sea glass had met her artistic vision. Soon her home became a studio rolling out unique, hand-crafted jewelry. Suddenly, A Day at the Beach was to become a platform to display her own unbelievably original works of art.

Jane began researching where she could garner some support and found her way to the Center for Women & Enterprise; there she took classes in Visioning and Business Planning. Jane would go on to graduate from the program and in 2009 opened her home-based business called A Day at the Beach Sea Glass Jewelry. Jane began taking her hand-made jewelry to parties and festivals finding an enthusiastic yet limited market. Thinking back to her time with the CWE she revamped her business plan to be less reliant on shows and festivals and more focused on a fully functional online boutique. In 2015, her new website went online and the strategy has been an incredible success.

McHenry has since added 6 wholesale jewelry locations in Rhode Island and Florida and has continued to grow her online presence. Sales have increased 300% over prior years and the online market allows Jane to reach a national audience.

Throughout this entire process Jane has continued to create, building an ever growing, ever changing inventory of one-of-a-kind wearable art. Her difficulty lies in the diminishing quantity that is sea glass, unlike other artist Jane cannot simply go to the store to get more materials. This keeps Jane and her husband on the constant hunt for the glass and this has taken them to shorelines all over the world including the Bahamas, Bermuda, California, Hawaii, Nova Scotia, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, the United Kingdom and many more.

When asked how she can keep up with the day to day demands of the business while keeping her artistic spirit she replied, “I wake up in the morning and live and breathe it.” Her passion feeds her desire, and her desire is to see her business become the highest grossing and profitable sea glass jewelry website in the United States.

A Day at the Beach Sea Glass Jewelry products can be found online as well as many local charity events. Jane is a champion for many local charities and small business’ and truly believes that, “A purchase from a small business means you’re buying US made and supporting your local economy.”

For her demonstrated success and growth potential, the U.S. Small Business Administration is pleased to honor Jane McHenry, Owner of A Day at the Beach Sea Glass Jewelry, as the 2016 Rhode Island Home-Based Small Business of the Year.

2016 Rhode Island Small Business Person of the Year

ParsonsKellog2Tom Kellogg

Tom Kellogg graduated from Vanderbilt in 1983 and began his career as a Manufacturer’s Representative for various sporting goods brands, including Asics and Oakley. In 1989, Tom joined Nike as a Sales Representative and worked his way up to Eastern Regional Sales Manager for Nike Golf.

After many years of success with Nike, Tom saw the potential to create his own business meeting corporate sponsors’ demand to purchase premium golf equipment bearing their own logos. Tom’s company literally began in his basement, where he started adding sponsors’ logos to golf balls, and with that, ParsonsKellogg (PK) was born. His business began growing quickly, with more merchandising options and a rapidly expanding client base.

Like many other small businesses, the 2008 recession battered PK, and for the first time in Tom’s business life, he faced the overwhelming task of keeping a business with over 40 employees afloat during a time of economic uncertainty. When asked how PK survived this time, Tom explained, “You have to make tough decisions, and some of those tough decisions don’t wait.” For Tom these words could not have been truer. During better days, the company could absorb high volume customers that were not highly profitable, but that model no longer worked. He also had to take a hard look at his expenses, make cuts and work with his team to find new ways to compete. Unfortunately, Tom also had to lay off some employees and friends. Throughout this painful episode, he took steps to ensure PK’s survival. He began securing payments in advance and did whatever was needed to keep the doors open. This strategy, while a difficult one, continued to keep PK afloat through uncertain times and eventually guided PK out of danger, securing the company’s future and emerging stronger. Tom looks back on those uncertain times with a learned eye, admitting that when times are steady, a business owner can postpone making a hard decision, but today he understands the value of making the tough call when needed. Now that the team at PK has weathered the storm, Tom says his people are stronger in their  roles and more accountable than ever to PK and to each other. He also was heartened to discover that people who left PK found jobs they were well suited to for the long term.

PK has since established itself as a Top 100 distributor in the 50 billion dollar promotional products industry. The company offers apparel, corporate gifts, tradeshow giveaways, awards and accessories, all in premium brands. PK stocks over a million dollars’ worth of inventory at any time to ensure immediate demand, and Tom hopes to one day expand regionally, while remaining committed to doing business in the Ocean State: “I love Rhode Island, I wanted to make a business here, and I wanted to stay here.” He elaborated, “Rhode Island is not a bad place to do business or recruit people. We, for example, have an internship program with Providence College, Bryant University, and the University of Rhode Island, and I am truly impressed by the young talent that comes out of this program.”

Tom Kellogg has continually done it his way, with respect, class, humility, and a belief in the people around him, a way his staff has embraced and affectionately branded the “PK Way.”

When asked to elaborate, Tom explained, “We were at our holiday party, and it had been an incredible year, and while I was thanking everyone, I just said that I was proud we had done it the PK Way. The PK Way isn’t anything set in stone, but all of us here know it when we see it.” And what they see is the drive to better their products, explore new and interesting directions and deliver excellence and accountability to the customer and one another.

For his demonstrated success, the U.S. Small Business Administration is pleased to honor Tom Kellogg, President of ParsonsKellogg, as the 2016 Rhode Island Small Business Person of the Year.

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