Imagine that you suddenly have an opportunity to buy a business from two retiring owners. It’s in an industry that you know well, but you’ve never owned your own company before. Deciding to leave steady employment to go out on your own is a daunting proposition. You decide to take the plunge!
Fast-forward to the day you take over. Fifteen people show up for your loan closing, and the significance of the situation sets in. You’ve signed on the dotted line – it’s time to start building business! So you walk into your new place to begin your first day as owner. All the previous clients’ accounts have been closed out except one. You have one customer on your books.
That’s the story of Dutch Valley Auto Works owners Geoff McCollum and Ken Trimble– Susquehanna customers in Lancaster, PA who I recently interviewed for a testimonial advertising campaign. Five years ago, the scenario above was very real for them. Since then they’ve serviced over 18,000 vehicles and have grown year after year.
Their path to success has been a challenging road, just like the other business customers I interviewed for this project. I got a firsthand account of the immense amount of time, stress, responsibility and commitment required of the owners who dedicate their lives to their businesses. I am both inspired and have a great sense of admiration for what it takes to succeed out on your own.
I was moved by the story of Dr. Yooson Kim, a dentist from Morgantown, PA who came to the United States at 15 and didn’t speak any English. She went on to become the valedictorian of her high school, and is now the successful owner of her own dental practice. When faced with the opportunity to start her own practice, she took a leap of faith that was assisted by bankers who believed in her potential – even more than she believed in herself (in her own words). She didn’t let fear stop her from taking a chance on success – that takes real courage.
In Trout Run, PA, I met Tim Satterfield and his wife Marilyn, who together started NuWeld, Inc. in their garage 14 years ago as a means for extra money to raise their growing children. Today they have grown to over 150 employees and aim for sales of $25 million this year. It didn’t take long to realize that the job has been a 24/7 commitment, and not one the owner would wish on anyone else (also his own words). It appears success doesn’t come easily – or without passion and sacrifice.
I took away from this experience a great amount of respect for the perseverance it takes to run a business independently. I also captured seven unique accounts of successful Susquehanna/business customer relationships built on trust, partnership, loyalty and kindness.
A visit to www.susquehanna.net/Stories will show you the results of the campaign and introduce you to the business owners I met on my journey. I hope reading their stories inspires you as well!