Suzie Ford was a banker who had just been laid off; her husband Todd was an airline pilot who missed seeing his wife. They decided to change course and start a business together.
Since Todd liked to brew his own beer, and had learned a lot about craft brewing during his layovers in Portland, Oregon, a brewery seemed like a good option.
Suzie’s best friend is a CPA and she recommended they use the services of Guidant Financial to find funding.
“My friend had clients that had used Guidant’s services, so I got in touch and we decided to use their 401(k) rollover service for our initial funding. Everything was very easy—we were able to communicate by email and our outside counsel, Frank, answered all of our questions.”
The Fords opened the NoDa Brewing Company in the spring of 2011 and received a warm welcome in Charlotte. Now, their beer is served in Panther Stadium, at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and in numerous pubs around North Carolina.
“It’s art to us,” said Suzie. “We can’t paint, we can’t write, but we can brew.”
Mike had been in the trades for decades when he decided to start his own business, Beach House Miracles. Now, his company, which renovates high-end condominiums and beach houses in Delaware and Maryland, draws clients from all over the U.S.—even some from other countries. Those who own properties along those beaches seek their services for their customer-centric approach.
“When I started this business, I knew all of the technical stuff,” said Mike. After a conversation with a marketing guru, he realized there was much more to being a business owner. He soon learned that, “The difference between being successful and not being successful is being able to provide an experience for your client.”
The Mayhews used retirement funds to help get the business going after getting a recommendation for Guidant Financial from their accountant.
“I called Guidant and Guidant took care of everything,” said Mike.
Wife Chrissy is also instrumental in the day-to-day operations of the business. She appreciates the freedom that owning a business has provided her over the years.
“Raising a family was very important to me,” said Chrissy. “If I wanted to go to my son’s games or if I wanted to be at a field trip with them, I was able to take that time.”
In their spare time, the Mayhews volunteer with Habitat For Humanity and are currently developing a coaching program for other contractors.
After decades in the Healthcare IT industry, Bohnne Jones endured a series of layoffs that left her ready for a career makeover. She’d always enjoyed interior decorating, and knew she had the skills to run her own business. Once she found the decorate Den franchise, she was on her way.
But first, she needed funding.
FranNet consultant, Dan Aronoff, told her about Guidant Financial and she decided to use her retirement funds to invest in the new business.
“Guidant Financial made it so easy for me. We were able to do everything over the phone—they walk you through the entire experience of buying a business and they make sure you are set up for success.” said Jones.
Since then, Bohnne has made a name for herself in Nashville winning numerous awards for her designs. Beloved by her clients, her business is so successful she’s even hired an assistant to help manage the workload.
“Starting this business was the best decision I ever made.” said Jones.
Christopher Villa made a lifelong dream come true when he purchased an i9 Sports franchise in 2006. “I think I decided when I was about 4 years old that I’d like to be my own boss, so I started putting the pieces in place during my corporate career in the footwear business,” said Villa.
Now, he leads one of the most successful i9 regions in the country.
The decision to purchase an i9 Sports franchise was an easy one. “When we were looking for a business to start, we wanted something that was community driven. i9 seemed to fit the bill, not to mention the fact that I’m very passionate about sports and I played sports all my life so it seemed to be a good fit.”
i9 provides team sports for children in a positive atmosphere and removes the burden of a crazy schedule for families by hosting the practices on the same day each week.
Villa found Guidant Financial through a franchise broker and never looked back. “One of the things I can say about Guidant Financial is [that] they’re very on top of compliance and very on top of making sure that your customer satisfaction is very high.”
As for the benefits of owning a business, Villa says there are many. “I’ve been able to coach my son’s baseball team; my wife and I are able to take trips and do the things that we love to do.”
He looks forward to starting his next business, a mobile gaming truck franchise, in a matter of weeks.
Read more about Christopher in Entrepreneur magazine.
On the verge of becoming empty nesters, Rand and Janeel Smith, proud parents of eight children, decided to buy their own business. Janeel was a music teacher; Rand had been in the eyewear industry for decades.
They decided to use their retirement funds to start a retail eyewear business.
Rand explains, “We wanted to start our business using our 401k monies but we had no idea how to do it. Our friend told us about Guidant Financial, so we contacted them and had a great experience.”
Now, they own the thriving eyeSmith Sport & Fashion Optical store in Kansas City, Missouri. Their store specializes in outfitting sport enthusiasts with appropriate eyewear for their activities.
“We can put prescriptions in sunglasses for fisherman, for skiers, for scuba divers and motorcycle riders—so it’s a draw that people want,” says Janeel.
They attract out-of-state customers with their state-of-the-art technology for eyewear fittings and unique selection. In addition, they consider their customers their friends.
In addition to their vast product offering, they find creative ways to market their store. The latest “stunt” included a geocaching treasure hunt that landed explorers right next to the eyeSmith location.
If you’re ever in the Kansas City metropolitan area, be sure to stop in and say “hi.” You’ll be greeted with friendly smiles, excellent customer service and a beautiful store. We dare you to not try on a pair of glasses!
To learn more, visit their official website or call 816.256.5333.
Read more about the Smiths in the Kansas City Star.
Fly fishing friends for years, Don Poffenroth and Kent Fleischmann spent many days on the river discussing their dreams for the future. Both men worked corporate jobs in the food industry and had years of marketing experience.
“I came up with this idea,” said Poffenroth, “since I used to be involved with a brewery in Montana. I initially looked at that business, and when I started to look into brewing I was led to check out distilling by some of the vendors I had worked with. That’s how the idea for distilling started.”
After drawing up a business plan, he asked Kent to invest in his new venture. Kent offered to partner with him and the rest is history.
With Guidant Financial’s help, they used their retirement funds for the bulk of their startup capital, and then began learning the business of craft distilling.
Now, they’re one of the top brands in the industry, world-renowned for their vodka and award-winning gin and whiskey.
Transitioning from a career in law enforcement to owning a winery can’t be an easy thing, but Randy Biehl made it happen. He was a U.S. probation and parole officer for almost 25 years and developed a passion for wine in his early 30s. He later decided he wanted to plant a vineyard and open a winery.
Going on a recommendation from his son, to get his winery going, he called Guidant Financial.
“I have been very impressed with the level of service, the professionalism, and friendliness of Guidant staff and management,” said Biehl.
Biehl also endured an IRS audit, but came through with flying colors.
“An IRS audit is very unsettling but Guidant stood by me every step of the way and that brought me great comfort. We were successful!”
He likens caring for a vineyard to gardening because “a great garden takes great care and so does a great vineyard.” He mentions that his life and his spare time are all consumed by his love for wine, “You know you have a passion when your hobby becomes your vocation.”
After 22 years in corporate sales and marketing, Jim Butenschoen of Springdale, Ark. decided that he’d had enough. “Corporate became more important than the customers. Internal processes and procedure, while important, were valued more than the needs of our clients. I really wanted to control my own destiny.”
Butenschoen spent five years searching for the perfect business to buy and decided on a beauty school. It’s not the industry he thought he’d join, but he liked the idea of growing a mom-and-pop operation.
Before his schools were up and running, he utilized Guidant’s iFinance service for funding. “The most impressive aspect of Guidant was their comprehensive approach to the entire process from incorporation of the business with all of the supporting documentation to the annual reporting requirements.”
Now, business is booming—Butenschoen has opened a total of four schools and moved the first two to larger facilities to accommodate continued growth. A beautiful business, for sure.
For more information on the Career Academy of Hair Design, visit their official website.
Linda Tyler is the quintessential American woman—she served her country for years as an Arkansas State Representative; she stimulates the economy with her frozen yogurt franchise and she’s a dedicated wife and mother.
Linda remembers her search for the perfect business, “We were looking for three things: profitability, great product and great franchise support.”
She found all of that in the Red Mango all-natural frozen yogurt franchise; then she needed to find the funding. She turned to Guidant Financial.
Guidant gave us a way to tap into our own financial resources in a cost-effective way. Our Guidant experience was positive. The legal and financial services were easily understood.
She enjoys what she does and reflects on how wonderful it is to have her community on board, “We continue to get great support from our Red Mango guests and the neighborhood. Our product is the best there is and we’re proud to be part of the Red Mango team.”
Hungry yet? Find a Red Mango near you.
As her retirement from a 20-year U.S. Navy career drew near in 2011, Dr. Jennifer Nicholls began an extensive job search. She wasn’t even considering starting her own business until she discovered the Mathnasium franchise.
She explains, “My father was a math teacher, and I have always been good at math. Education is really my passion, but I wasn’t interested in getting a credential so I couldn’t go the pure teaching route. Mathnasium seemed like a great fit combining my passion for education with my extensive program management experience.”
While investigating ways to utilize her Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for business funding, she found Guidant. Mathnasium, coincidentally, also recommended Guidant’s services. “The process with Guidant was very easy to navigate,” notes Nicholls. “ They answered all of my questions—even the silly ones. The sales team, legal counsel and tax folks were/are extremely helpful and continue to answer any questions to this day.”
Nicholls credits her years as a Naval Officer for her strong work ethic, leadership skills and accountability. “These are all things that were introduced to me early on, but the military recognizes and rewards these attributes in a stronger way than I have observed in the civilian world.”
Jennifer Nicholls was the first recipient of our veteran scholarship award.