This article appeared in the Wilmington News Journal on April 9, 2011:
Written by ERIC RUTH – The News Journal
Wilmington, Del. – Delaware is nothing at all like Long Island. And John Sullivan is glad for that.
Thanks to Delaware’s low cost of living and accommodating government, Sullivan’s manufacturing company — Testing Machines Inc. — has been able to thrive since moving to New Castle from Long Island last year. The manufacturer of materials testing equipment grew its workforce 56 percent, boosted revenue 25 percent, and expects expansion to continue.
It’s a success story that has earned the firm the Delaware Small Business Administration’s Family Owned Business of the Year award, to be presented June 7.
“The SBA did really help us accomplish a lot of things,” said CEO Sullivan, whose family has run the business for close to 80 years. “We put a solar roof on. We did geothermal heating and air conditioning.”
The firm started in 1931 in New York City and found itself moving farther and farther east to cope with costs. Searching for an alternative, Sullivan chose Delaware. “Twenty-six people moved [here from Long Island] and we’ve hired an additional 15 so far — and were adding people every day,” Sullivan said.
The firm’s relocation to Delaware gave it closer access to such customers as DuPont, W.L. Gore and AstraZeneca, which use its machines to measure the physical properties of materials — the smoothness of paper, the friction properties of plastic film.
“Delaware has some unique things,” Sullivan said. “It’s got a great selection of public and private schools. It has a very low cost of living as compared to Long Island. … It’s very centrally located.” Testing Machines’ parent company — also owned by Sullivan — also has facilities in the Netherlands, Massachusetts and Ohio.
The Delaware SBA awarded its Business Person of the Year award to Christy Lynn Crkvenac, who runs Fulcrum Pharmacy Management and Radius Rx Direct, which serve the “special needs” market — including prisons, homeless shelters and agencies that deal with mental or behavioral health issues, physical disabilities and substance abuse.
“It’s a lot of risk and a lot of reward,” Crkvenac said of her decision to open her Wilmington-based business in 2003. “I remember the day that we signed the loan … you’re pretty much signing your life away. We were signing away any equity on the house, we were signing way our 401(k). I was like, ‘OK, this has gotta work, or we’re homeless.’ ”
Since that day, sales have grown by 75 percent. Crkvenac began with herself and three other employees. Now, there are more than 30. “We came as a team, and they’re still here with me today,” she said.
As part of National Small Business Week May 18-20, Crkvenac and 53 other winners will compete for the title of National Small Business Person of the Year in Washington, D.C.
The SBA’s Delaware District Office will honor this year’s winners at a dinner June 7 at the Executive Banquet and Conference Center near Glasgow.
Small Business Person of the Year: Christy Lynn Crkvenac, Fulcrum Pharmacy Management Inc. and Radius Rx Direct Inc., Wilmington
Family Owned Business of the Year: John Sullivan, Testing Machines Inc., New Castle
Entrepreneurial Success Award: Beverly Stewart, Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, Wilmington
Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year: David Skocik, PR Delaware LLC, Dover
Women Business Champion of the Year: L. Jay Burks, Office of Minority and Women Business Enterprise, Dover
Financial Services Champion of the Year: Ed Perez, Downtown Dover Partnership, Dover
* Home-Based Business Champion of the Year: Ja-Neair Macklin, Direct Sales and Home Based Business Network, Wilmington
Minority Small Business Champion of the Year: Leonard Young III, Delaware Black.com LLC, Glasgow
Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Kyle Young, Mercantile Processing Inc., Fenwick Island
* Designates the winner of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Award among nominations from Pa.,, Md., Del., W.Va., Va. and D.C.
Beverly Stewart, M.Ed. is President and Director of Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, Inc., an area leader in 1-on-1 tutoring and test prep for children and adults, and translating/interpreting since 1985. In addition, Back to Basics is a Department of Education approved 1-on-1 Private School for K-12, as well as a Business and Trade School for ages 16+.
Email Beverly at firstname.lastname@example.org, call her at (302)594-0754 or visit on the web at www.backtobasicslearning.com or www.backtobasicsprivateschool.com.
Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, Inc. is located on 6 Stone Hill Road, Wilmington.
Beverly Stewart inducted to Hall of Fame of Delaware Women