Two small businesses in Orange County will be recognized in Texas on
Aug. 15 for winning national awards from SCORE, a volunteer-driven nonprofit
group affiliated with the U.S. Small Business Administration that provides free
business advice to up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
Dog is Good won the organization's award for outstanding veteran-owned small business. Jon and Gila Kurtz own the Los Alamitos-based firm that sells pet-themed goods online, in retail stores and at trade shows.
The company had been in a slow-growth pattern when Gila Kurtz attended a women's networking group where SCORE mentor Tom Patty discussed marketing lessons he learned as former president of advertising firm Chiat/Day. Chiat/Day represented companies such as Apple, Nike, Pizza Hut and Nissan Motors.
Through occasional one-hour mentoring sessions spanning several years, Patty helped the couple understand how to market their business by capturing the strong emotions dog lovers feel about their pets. "He brought to the table a tremendous amount of expertise on marketing," Gila Kirtz said.
Patty's coaching helped the Kurtzes focus Dog is Good from a business that was "about dog stuff" to a brand for "people who love dogs as much as their children and are willing to spend money on them." Jon Kurtz said that focus helped the company grow to $1 million last year from $250,000 sales in 2009.
SCORE's outstanding minority-owned small business award will be presented to ViArch Integrated Solutions Inc., a technology consulting firm based in Orange. The company is owned by Angela and Eric Jones, an African American couple from Fullerton. ViArch, a portmanteau of "virtual architect," describes how the firm designs hardware and software systems, mostly for aerospace companies such as Boeing and Eaton.
When the couple started their business in 2008, they immediately jumped into one big project. "When that ended, things slowed down, and we realized we had to focus on the business side of things," Eric Jones said. "We wanted to be prepared for after the recession, when things would get busier."
The couple had technical skills but needed help with marketing and sales. After Eric Jones, an engineer, attended a SCORE presentation at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the couple decided to attend some of the organization's seminars at a Fullerton library.
The Joneses have consulted with SCORE mentors throughout the growth of their company. Aside from marketing and sales advice, consultants have helped the couple find and negotiate a lease for ViArch's office space.
Angela Jones says that being able to quickly find someone to answer a business issue gives her confidence. "You don't have to worry about lacking expertise on any specific topic, because SCORE can provide that," she said. "It's a huge boon for a small company like ours to get that kind of expertise for free."
On the move
B. Joseph Badalian has been named chief executive of Fountain Valley Regional Medical Center, which is owned by Tenet Healthcare. He was previously CEO of Lakewood Regional Medical Center, another Tenet property.
Drew Englebrecht has been promoted to vice president of marketing and operations for his father's Newport Beach-based fight promotions company, Roy Englebrecht Promotions. The younger Englebrecht has been the firm's operations and marketing
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