Success Stories

Monte Farms breed success

“My experience with the LSBDC has been great. I could not have made it this far without them,” Hobdy said. “I tell everyone I know about them.”

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Winnfield, Louisiana isn’t the biggest or most well known city in the state, but that doesn’t mean it can’t produce greatness. In 2014 Winnfield native Le’Montio Hobdy opened Monte Farms, a heritage breed, pasture-raised pork and pastured poultry farm. After consulting with the Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) at ULM, Hobdy found he could produce success.

With the help of the LSBDC at ULM, before opening the business in late 2014 Hobdy was able to determine critical problems, develop financial models and cost models, and develop a production cycle.

“The biggest thing was the production cycle that they helped me organize so I could have a consistent supply to my customers,” Hobdy said.

Hobdy successfully developed a market for heritage breed hogs and raised poultry products. Monte Farms uses rare breeds of pigs that originate from England to produce a superlative pork product. All of its pigs and chickens are raised on open pastures and they have 24-hour access to fresh grass. The company’s promise for success garnered Hobdy with the LSBDC at ULM Rising Star Award presented in May 2015. Hobdy has quickly experienced vast success as he supplies to some of Louisiana’s top-ranked eateries, including Monroe’s, Cotton; as well as restaurants owned by the world-renowned restaurateur Dickie Brennan of New Orleans.

“We were able to really get Le’Montio going in the right direction as far as cost projection, growth projection and website development,” LSBDC Project Director Barry Parker said. “His business is very unique and non-traditional, but Le’Montio is a very sharp guy and we have a really good relationship.”

The LSBDC didn’t just limit Hobdy to ULM’s center, the Greater New Orleans and Bayou Region also chipped in to make sure Monte Farms would produce great success, along with the great meat.

Hobdy received consultation from Dianne Sclafani, Business Consultant who is a Restaurant and Food Specialist at the Greater New Orleans and Bayou Region Center. Sclafani was able to help Hobdy strategize to find more clients Monte Farms could distribute to.

“My experience with the LSBDC has been great. I could not have made it this far without them,” Hobdy said. “I tell everyone I know about them.”

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LSBDC at ULM puts a nice touch on Parker Collision

“The LSBDC was extremely helpful and they did a fantastic job helping us get our business up and running,” the Parkers said.

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Brandon Parker grew up in the auto repair industry and knew someday he’d be a leader in the business. He stuck with his raising and what he knew, eventually became a member of the Board of Collision Association and proved to not only be a leader but an expert. He was just missing one thing – his own company.

With several expert certificates under his name and a strong clientele, he and his wife Emily decided it was time to start their own paint and body shop.

The Parker couple went to a local bank and it was there that they were recommended to meet with the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at University of Louisiana at Monroe (LSBDC at ULM).

The Parkers went to the LSBDC at ULM where Center Director Virendra Chhikara helped with their business plan, market research, strategic organization and other areas of the business that eventually helped launch Parker Collision Center, located at 3331 Sterlington Road in Monroe.

The LSBDC at ULM helped the Parkers utilize about $238,000 in capital to start the business and create 5 new jobs.

“The LSBDC was extremely helpful and they did a fantastic job helping us get our business up and running,” the Parkers said.

Brandon Parker said his only goal is to fix cars to the best of his ability and to simply look after the customer, and he backs that statement with professional certifications such as; Sherwin Williams Color Adjustment and Blending, I-CAR Platinum High Level of Individual Technical Training, Vale National Automotive Estimatics 3000, I-CAR certificate of Advanced training, and Estimating Solutions for Profit.

“He [Brandon] knew what he wanted to do and had the talent, he just didn’t know how to get started,” Chhikara said.

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Pender Industrial

Pender Industrial is a manufacturer's representative and industrial equipment distributor based in Monroe, La. Founded by a husband and wife team in 2004, the company has grown to over $3.6 million in sales.

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When a husband has extensive industrial sales experience and the wife has marketing and business experience, it can be tempting to start their own business when they see the opportunity. That is exactly what happened in 2004 when John and Renee Pender founded Pender Industrial.

Based in Monroe, La., Pender Industrial is a manufacturer's representative and distributor for instrumentation valves and parts for chemical plants, energy plants and paper mills. Pender services clients in Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Alabama.

When Renee Pender and her husband started thinking about forming a business in 2003, Renee went straight to her alma mater for help. She consulted with the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at the University of Louisiana Monroe to begin working on a brief business plan and feasibility study to determine if starting the business would be the right move. They had a foot in the industry and the sales skills to go with it but they had to crunch numbers to see if it was right for them.

"They really helped with the numbers. At the time, we didn't know how much we'd have to borrow and we fine-tuned the business and marketing plan to see if it was even feasible," said Pender.

They started the business in their home and kept inventory in a small shop but things grew quickly. Within a couple of years they moved into a 4,300-square-foot warehouse and now have seven employees including herself and her husband. Pender said they have always gone back to the center for advice when considering adding more staff. They run a cost/benefit analysis to find out how much the new employee will have to sell to break even and how they need to price salary and commission.

So far things have gone well. Pender had a $700,000 sale within six months of opening their doors and in 2010, they had $3.6 million in sales. Pender said they are also exploring the opportunity of branding their own product line of valves.

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Ron’s Cajun Boudin

LSBDC at University of Louisiana Monroe helped ULM Football Hall of Famer Ronnie Washington realize his dream of owning a specialty meat retail store.

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Since he was a child, Ronnie C. Washington always knew he wanted to own his own business. While attending the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM), he started taking various business classes to learn about entrepreneurship. Years later, Washington sought the LSBDC at University of Louisiana Monroe to help make his dream of owning a specialty meat store a reality.   The LSBDC at ULM helped Washington streamline his business idea and develop a plan of action to get his business off the ground. With assistance from the center, Washington also participated in the Microenterprise Development Program offered by Louisiana Economic Development. During this three-month business development course, he received entrepreneurial training, financial literacy, and other specialized training to increase his business knowledge and to help ensure his business venture would be a success. “Through the workshops I learned the importance of research, preparation, and financial planning,” said Washington.    Over the years Washington saved money and in 2000 began trying out various recipes for what would become known as Ron’s Cajun Boudin. Once he perfected his recipe, Washington hit the streets and in 2006, he sold his first links.    Four years later, Washington opened his retail location at 1502 South Second Street in Monroe, LA, using his personal savings. Today, Ron’s Cajun Boudin generates sufficient income to cover his operating expenses and is returning a profit. He has expanded his product line to eight different boudin flavors (Chicken, Cajun, Crawfish, Beef, Shrimp, Turkey, Sweet Italian, and Jalapeño Cajun), seafood gumbo, as well as stuffed Cornish hens and stuffed pork chops. Washington, a 2007 ULM Football Hall of Fame inductee, sells his products locally and ships all over the United States.    “Dr. Dunn taught me the importance of location (‘location, location, location’), and the importance of adequate preparation and research,” said Washington. “Most businesses fail because of poor preparation, and I did not want that to happen to me.”


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Open Arms After Hours Child Enrichment Center, LLC

"The staff at the LSBDC at University of Louisiana Monroe assisted me with a business plan to assess the feasibility of the day care facility and put me in contact with a non-traditional lender who helped finance the construction."

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Chloris Faulkner purchased land in June 2007 in hopes that one day she could open a childcare center where families can access educational childcare that prepares children for success in school and life.   “After several years of planning, meetings, and set-backs, construction finally began in December 2009,” said Faulkner. The Faulkners held a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony on July 17, 2010 and began accepting children later that month.   The childcare center, located at 801 St. John Street in Monroe, LA, currently has seven employees. The childcare center operates from 6am to 12 noon Monday through Saturday with open enrollment.    “The staff at the LSBDC at University of Louisiana Monroe assisted me with a business plan to assess the feasibility of the day care facility, “ said Faulkner. “They also put me in contact with a non-traditional lender, Enterprise Corporation of the Delta, who helped finance the construction.”


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