Six local business owners celebrated finishing the Small Business Development Center’s first Small Business Management II class Monday under graduation-themed ceiling decorations, including a “Congratulations” sign strung up on the wall and a sheet cake on the table.
A total of 11 people went through the first and second levels of the nine-month courses. Advisor Diane Mahoney celebrated each student for what she calls working on their businesses instead of just in them.
“We decided to keep the level two, because I just change it up each year,” Mahoney said. “It depends on what businesses are in town. I didn’t want to spread ourselves too thin by doing a level three and then people get confused.”
The level one class is for new businesses or owners who want to start working on their businesses goals, mechanics and basic marketing skills.
“It’s really an introduction to which different aspects of your business you should be paying attention to,” Mahoney said.
Dawn Nelson has been the office manager at Overhead Door Co. for 19 years and graduated from level two, but she said she almost didn’t take level one previously.
“I thought, ‘I don’t need that. I know how to do … whatever,’” Nelson said with a wave of her hand.
The level one class proved to her that, even with 19 years of experience, she could still work on her business and get some help from people with different experiences, so she came back for level two.
“You can take level two four years in a row and it will be different,” Mahoney said.
She said next year’s classes will expand from a class size of six to 12 students, and she is open to more expansion if the demand is there.
Water Depot owners Jody and Kregg Parenti were in the inaugural level two class and have been coming to the center for advice and support to bring their idea of professionalism to their business.
“Not only the classes, the comradery with the other students, but being able to meet with Diane or any of the other people is really beneficial because you know you’ve got people you can go and ask questions to who really care about what you’re doing, and they have the best intentions for you and for the community,” Jody Parenti said.
Executive Director Debbie Caterson said the center wasn’t able to do any classes like the Small Business Management class three years ago. She said a $25,000 grant from The Ford Family Foundation has made all the difference.
Ryan Allen has been working full time with his dad, Tim Allen for five years, but on and off since the family bought Roseburg Rental eight years ago. He took level one twice and decided level two was a good move.
“It doesn’t just tell you what to do, but how,” Allen said.
Mahoney said she thought he only came because his dad sent him, but has seen significant growth from him and the business.
“I’m just so proud of these guys,” Mahoney said. “They are like family to me. I just truly love seeing them succeed. People truly want to see their hard work pay off. When they have someone that can be a mentor and help them to be accountable, it makes a huge difference.”