By Josaline Cuesta, California Program Director, Small Business Majority & IEBJ Content Contributor
Women entrepreneurs have driven new business growth and job creation for the past two decades. And despite having to navigate a shecession in 2020, women persisted. However, despite their persistence, this community continues to face unique challenges in accessing capital and connecting with the right financial networks. As such, Small Business Majority has partnered with the Women’s Economic Ventures and FOUND/LA on a Back to Basics Cohort Series developed by women and geared towards better supporting women business owners to grow and thrive in the face of financial challenges.
During Financial Literacy Month, we implore women entrepreneurs to check out this interactive cohort series that will give small employers the tools they need to take charge and understand their finances.
Alma Beaty is a real-life example of an entrepreneur working to take charge of her financial future, overcome barriers and pursue her American dream. Alma is based in the southern California area and owns “Relat-Able” – an online boutique with merchandise geared toward supporting: life stages, living with disability/disabilities, hanging out with family/friends, overcoming adversity, dating, you know, Relat-Able life stuff. Alma is not a seasoned business owner with staff. She started her business two years ago, but found the courage to go public in December 2022. She is a self-employed immigrant who is also deaf. But, like many innovative entrepreneurs, she had an idea(s) and strived to see it to fruition, working through the nuances of accessing and managing capital with limited resources. Through five short questions, Alma shares advice on what she has done to strengthen her financial wellness.
Why is financial literacy important for small business owners? “It teaches us to not only make wise decisions on what we spend/invest in (regardless of the industry we are in), but it also helps us to calculate our wins and losses. Thereby helping us see whether or not a business is profitable.”
What have you done recently to strengthen your long-term financial plan? “I have been allowing myself to get into the habit of making spreadsheets. It felt weird at first, like in a mature-responsible kind of way. But in a fun and positive way as well.”
Which do you find easiest to obtain and manage? Business credit cards or small business loans from a traditional bank? “If we can be responsible with it, and we should, business credit cards will quickly increase our business credit and make it much easier for banks and lenders if we ever need to apply for a business loan. But ask me again six months from now. My answer may change depending on how much I have in the bank.”
What was the most significant financial mistake you made when just starting? “Spending so much money on things to get Relat-Able started only to realize I didn’t need all the stuff I bought later. And hiring graphic designers, only to realize these are things I could do myself. But despite realizing later that I could do graphic designing on my own, I didn’t regret hiring these designers. If anything, it taught me the importance of patience. And if I were ever to hire a graphic designer(s) again (and I will), it would be done with intention.”
Have you found the “Back to Basics” series helpful? Can you share another “go-to” financial literacy resource? “I find the Back to Basics series to be extremely helpful! I can’t say this enough. Being able to sit at a table (virtually) and have access to a sign language interpreter with other women to learn about financial literacy taught by women is the kind of empowHERment we (women and young girls) will always need. In honor of Women’s History Month, I would love to give a shout-out to my other go-to financial literacy resources. Such as: Melody Hobson, Dash Kennedy, and Tori Dunlap.
San Bernardino’s Chem-Pak Ushers in New Era: A Legacy Continues with Fresh Leadership
Under new ownership by Eric L. Goodman, San Bernardino’s long-standing Chem-Pak embarks on an expansive journey, building upon its 36-year legacy of community and industry service.
Terry Goodman, owner of Chem-Pak, recently announced his retirement, marking the end of a remarkable journey in the industrial supply industry. Starting as a one-man operation 36 years ago, Goodman transformed Chem-Pak into a business with multiple offices and approximately 15 employees.
In the late 1980s, Goodman was a sales representative for Easterday Janitorial Supply Company near Norton Air Force Base. When the company shut down its San Bernardino office, Goodman, a Highland resident, opted to start his venture rather than commute to Los Angeles. He sought support from his customers, laying the foundation for what Chem-Pak is today.
“I never aspired to have numerous employees. My goal was to build a team that enjoyed a good living without feeling drained at day’s end,” Goodman explained. “Having experienced ‘Corporate America,’ where successful territories are often split to limit earnings or, conversely, underperformers are let go, I wanted to follow a different path.”
Many of Chem-Pak’s team members have been with the company for 20 to 30 years, a testament to the familial and collaborative environment Goodman cultivated. “I’ve always viewed my team not just as employees but as equal partners in this journey. There’s nothing in this company that I haven’t done myself. When a few team members were out with COVID recently, I didn’t hesitate to help with deliveries. Our customers’ needs come first,” he said.
Pablo Carbajal, manager of the San Bernardino store for 22 years, shares his commitment to Chem-Pak. “Despite numerous job offers over the years, this is where I belong. Goodman’s mentorship taught me everything from equipment knowledge to customer service, shaping my understanding of the business world,” Carbajal expressed.
Richard Bowman, a contract employee for about 30 years, also praised the company’s ethos. “Working for Chem-Pak has been empowering. It’s akin to finding a golden opportunity.”
Goodman recalls landing major accounts, including Carl’s Jr. and Stater Bros, as career highlights. However, the COVID-19 pandemic posed unprecedented challenges. “During the pandemic, our business boomed, particularly for hand sanitizer and toilet paper. We had to adapt quickly to the surging demand and the evolving ‘new normal’ of a post-pandemic economy,” he recounted.
Goodman’s work ethic dates back to his teenage years, starting with a part-time job at a gas station and later at McMahan’s furniture warehouse. He emphasizes the importance of networking and real-world experience for young people. “I often speak at career days in San Bernardino schools to offer students firsthand insights into the workforce, beyond what they hear from peers or parents,” he said.
Looking forward, Goodman plans to travel and engage in volunteer work, confident in leaving Chem-Pak in capable hands with family members and experienced employees at the helm.
Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce Welcomes Hawaii Chamber as Honorary Global Member
Empowering Future Generations: IERCC and Chamber of Commerce Hawaii Forge Partnership for Youth Development
In a landmark meeting that signifies the growing collaboration between regional chambers of commerce, the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce (IERCC) proudly welcomed the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii as an Honorary Global Member. This momentous occasion was marked by a ceremonial presentation led by Eddy Sumar, MBA, CCE, CICE, a distinguished member and Chair of the Education and Youth Skills Development Liaison at IERCC.
Eddy Sumar, renowned for his passionate advocacy for youth education and skill development, met with Sherry Menor-McNamara, CCE, President & CEO, and Tyler Hunt, Associate Vice President of Membership Services, of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii. The meeting was not just a formal presentation but also an opportunity to share the innovative approaches IERCC is employing to champion youth development.
In a unique and inspiring gesture, the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii representatives were introduced to IERCC’s youth initiatives through a trilogy of educational books authored by Eddy Sumar himself. These books – “A Treasure Hunt With OTIS,” “The Hidden Dreams,” and “The Cutting Edge” – are a testament to Sumar’s dedication to empowering the youth. Each book addresses critical areas of youth development:
- “A Treasure Hunt With OTIS” provides wisdom to guide young lives.
- “The Hidden Dreams” unlocks the potential of identifying and pursuing youthful aspirations.
- “The Cutting Edge” offers vital insights into understanding credit and financial literacy.
Edward Ornelas, Jr., President & CEO of the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce, expressed his enthusiasm for this new partnership, stating, “This collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii represents a significant step in our ongoing commitment to foster the leaders of tomorrow. By combining our resources and expertise, we can more effectively prepare our youth for the dynamic world they will inherit. Our shared vision for youth development and education is the cornerstone of this partnership.”
The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii expressed its enthusiasm for the collaboration, recognizing the value of the resources provided by IERCC. This partnership is a significant step towards a shared goal of fostering a brighter future for youth through education, skill development, and empowerment.
The Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce is enthusiastically developing plans to launch a summer internship program exclusively for students from the Inland Empire, offering them the opportunity to travel to Hawaii for this enriching experience. This initiative, which stems from the IERCC’s recent collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, is focused on providing Inland Empire students with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the diverse business and cultural environment of Hawaii. The program aims to equip these students with invaluable hands-on experience in various industries, enhancing their skills and broadening their perspectives. This visionary approach underscores the IERCC’s dedication to fostering the professional and personal growth of its youth, preparing them for successful careers in an increasingly interconnected world.
The IERCC is committed to continuing these collaborative efforts and looks forward to a fruitful and impactful partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, collectively striving to nurture the leaders of tomorrow.
Corona Factory Files Landmark Trade Secret Lawsuit in New Hampshire Federal Court
Leading Private Label Company Alleges Massive Data Breach by SGS North America, Inc., Threatening Millions in Investment and Profits
Amid a surge of corporate theft nationwide, U.S. Continental Marketing, Inc. has initiated trade secret litigation against SGS North America, Inc. alleging misappropriation of proprietary and confidential chemical formulations that may cost U.S. Continental millions of dollars.
The largest private label leather and fabric care company in the world, U.S. Continental operates out of a 100,000 square foot factory in Corona, California, and partners with popular footwear, fashion, and furniture brands such as Birkenstock, Timberland, and Michael Kors to develop a range of products. The company provides commercial packaging solutions as well.
In its complaint filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire, U.S. Continental alleges that earlier this year, it spent millions to develop five unique and secret chemical formulations for an unnamed customer for use on branded textiles. Those formulas were sent to SGS North America for independent testing. David Williams, U.S. Continental’s President, explains, “Leading up to its testing, we made very clear to SGS that the confidentiality of any and all information about our formulations was critical. Third parties, and even our customers, could not be privy to our proprietary data and SGS knew that.”
Williams added, “To put a finer point on the sensitivity of the formulations in question, we negotiated an ironclad NDA with SGS, which it signed, promising not to disclose confidential information related to our formulations to anyone without written approval.”
U.S. Continental’s complaint alleges that despite its assurances, SGS twice sent detailed, unredacted testing reports directly to the customer in August, revealing specifics about the chemical formulations SGS promised to keep under wraps.
According to Williams, “By virtue of SGS’s indiscretion, which one of its Vice Presidents cavalierly claimed was a ‘mistake,’ our customer was sent all the information it needed to manufacture essential chemical formulations on its own. That puts at risk the $2 million we invested in R&D, along with another $20 million or so in profits from our manufacturing agreement with the customer. It only gets worse from there if SGS discloses our proprietary information—which it refuses to return—to any others.”
Jeffrey Farrow, a partner at Michelman & Robinson, LLP, which represents U.S. Continental along with local counsel in New Hampshire, says, “It’s beyond crucial that trade secrets, like my client’s chemical formulations, be carefully safeguarded. By failing to do so, SGS breached its NDA—a breach that continues given that the data at issue has yet to be returned despite multiple requests from U.S. Continental. This is simply unacceptable and through this lawsuit, we want SGS to know that its unlawful disclosure of trade secrets, and unlawful retention of them, won’t go unchecked.”
The lawsuit is currently pending and U.S. Continental is awaiting a response from SGS.
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