Meet Aubrey and Adam Bolender

(Submitted by Ivory Harlow, Ohio Cooperative Development Center, OSU South Centers)

YouTube – Published on Sep 22, 2017
Ohio Cooperative Development Center client spotlight:

Meet Aubrey and Adam Bolender, two beef producers in southern Ohio. Learn more about how strong partnerships with their co-op members and each other help their operation grow.

Sole Choice, Inc.

(Submitted by Kelly O’Bryant, Business Specialist, SBDC Export Assistance Network, OSU South Centers)

At one point in history, Portsmouth, Ohio, was a shoe-making mecca with 5,000 industry employees. When the last of the industry was on the verge of closing, seven partners some investing their life savings to keep the, then, Michellace, facility open. In 2009, Sole Choice, Inc. launched. Located at 830 Murray Street in Portsmouth, Ohio, it occupies a manufacturing space on a five-acre site in Portsmouth, Ohio. Built in 1918 and expanded in 1929 and 1947, the building has survived the economic decline as well as the 1937 Portsmouth flood.

Sole Choice began with 15 people on staff and 24 customer accounts. They currently have more than 50 on staff and over 400 customer accounts. They are a team of hardworking, honest, and dedicated individuals, who provide innovative and flexible solutions to meet the needs of customers. They have been providing quality products to the retail and industrial markets for over 100 years and take pride in their history. This is company with a long-term reputation for innovation, quality, efficiency and delivery for serve on a local and global basis.

Sole Choice manufactures:
• Trims: hood cords, twill tape, binding and webbing, tipped, spooled, blocked, hot cut, and cold cut put-ups with dye to match colors
• Shoelaces: found, flat and oval, tipped or fused in a variety of lengths, waxed and anti-wicking treatments available, available colors
• Print lace and ad specialties: designed products for sporting events, radio stations, give-a-ways, direct mail, and trade shows — offering customers the creative option of printing up to six colors and using a variety of textiles including polyester, nylon, cotton, Kevlar, reflective material, and wax

Bryan Davis, Executive Director, shared, “Our products are ‘Made in America.’ We source most of our raw material right here too. Our yarns come from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama. Our primary customers are the footwear industry, medical industry, Department of Defense, and our work with the apparel industry has been growing over the years.”
Ryan Bouts, Executive Director, said, “Our willingness to work with clients to develop and produce designer products sets us apart within our industry. At any given time, we have 10 to 12 new products, colors, or designs being developed.”

When Sole Choice, Inc. began focusing on marketing their business, they met with Kelly O’Bryant, director of the Small Business Development Center’s Export Assistance Center at the Ohio State University South Centers-Piketon. Davis mentioned, “Kelly suggested the Ohio IMAGE Grant to help us expand our marketing and international reach. Kelly explained that the program is funded federally through the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP)–in essence, we are getting some of our tax dollars back. Kelly was very hands-on through the whole project. The application process was simple and took only minutes to apply. We doubled our attendance at key international industry tradeshows across the country. We also developed a customer brand book.”

Bouts added, “Kelly was very responsive to questions. She walked us through the application process. It is still a bit early to record impacts; but we have been able to budget for more international trade show exposure. Also in less than a year, we have gleaned more than 50 new contacts. It opened up a whole new region for us in Asia.”
The company has certainly been involved with some interesting projects over the years: a 100 ft. long shoelace for a 15 ft. tall boot for Redwing’s 100-year anniversary; a commissioned nautical rope-like shoelace project; the glow-in-the-dark lace project, where laces glow up to 4 hours; the Bluelace Project, where a strongman pulled a 13,000 lb. truck with a pair of 51” shoelaces; cords on space shuttle; cordage for catheter bags for hospitals; cords in radar systems for Royal Navy; shoeslaces in first-line military boots; shoelaces for forest firefighting boots; organic cotton shoelaces made for an all natural product shoe; and much more.

Bouts said, “We’ve modeled our company to cater to the industry design element. We don’t have the cookie-cutter approach to our product development that some of our competitors do. When we are challenged to come up with a solution, we don’t shy away. We work closely with customers to reach their product goal.”

Davis added, “Also we are strategically located in a textile hotbed with ¾ of the population within 600 miles. We can ship within two days to Norfolk, two days to Chicago, or three days to Jacksonville or Mobile.”

For more information about Sole Choice, go to, call 740-354-2813, or email

SBDC Success Story Video: Silver Bridge Coffee

(Submitted by Kimberly Roush, Program Assistant, Ohio Cooperative Development Center and Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

Published on March 11, 2016

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at OSU South Centers in Piketon, Ohio assisted a family-owned business, Silver Bridge Coffee, in expanding their business and adding jobs to the local community.

Ohio & West Virginia Food Hub Network Learns from Central Ohio Produce Companies

(Submitted by Hannah Scott, Manager, Ohio Cooperative Development Center, OSU South Centers)

Food Hub Network Field Trip 5.18.16 (3)Seventeen participants in the Ohio and West Virginia Food Hub Network learned first-hand the ins and outs of aggregating, distributing and even processing fresh produce when they toured multiple central Ohio produce companies in May. Food hub stakeholders and support organizations from across the region were welcomed at Sanfillipo Produce Co., DNO Produce, LLC and DNO, Inc. of Columbus, Ohio to learn about their organizations, which have roots in produce wholesale and distribution spanning 100 years.

Not only did participants observe working facilities, they learned from employees about how these operations source product from growers, their processes for aggregating and then distributing product to restaurants, grocers, institutions and other customers, as well as protocols the companies use to ensure the quality and safety of produce throughout aggregation, processing and distribution.

IMG_8643 (3)The Ohio Cooperative Development Center (OCDC) at The Ohio State University South Centers leads the Ohio and West Virginia Food Hub Network, a peer exchange network of new and emerging food hubs, incubator training farms, and technical assistance providers. The regional effort was formed in early 2014 and participants now come together four times a year. Meetings focus on assessing the needs of food hub and training farm efforts, organizing programming to meet those needs, and creating a space for stakeholders to learn from one another. Past programming has focused on financial planning and finance resources, examining successful models, and quality and safety assurance programs. The network also incorporates activities such as resource sharing through an email listserv and educational webinars throughout the year.

Food Hub Network Field Trip 5.18.16(3)The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines regional food hubs as, “a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand.” The concept, and efforts to create food hubs in local communities, has gained a lot of interest in Ohio and West Virginia in the past few years as hubs can create a variety of benefits within their communities, including increasing market access for local and regional producers, particularly small producers.

If you are interested in learning more about cooperative food hubs or the Ohio and West Virginia Food Hub Network, please contact Hannah Scott, or 740-289-2071 x227.

Barham, James, Debra Tropp, Kathleen Enterline, Jeff Farbman, John Fisk, and Stacia Kiraly. Regional Food Hub Resource Guide. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service. Washington, DC. April 2012.

Patter Fam Sauces manufacturing process trial

(Submitted by Mick Whitt, Manufacturing Business Development Specialist, Manufacturing and Technology Small Business Development Center, OSU South Centers)

Sam Stirring (3)On May 18, the Ohio State University South Centers Small Business Development Center (SBDC) was present for the first day of bottling production at Patter Fam Sauces in Wheelersburg, Ohio.

The day began with a homemade style breakfast, including biscuits, eggs, and bacon, prepared by owner Sam Peters. What a wonderful way to start any work day!

Chris Stirring (3)After receiving final inspection and approval from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Sam invited members of the SBDC business team to act as the production crew for the day. Team members Ryan Mapes, Chris Smalley, and Mick Whitt were involved with the entire process that all employees will perform, such as, calibrating equipment, cleaning and sterilization, preparing ingredients, stirring (a lot of stirring), and filling, capping, sealing, and boxing the finished product.

Ryan Stirring (3)The benefit of the SBDC team taking part in this day was helping Sam better evaluate exactly how many employees it will take to complete the needed tasks in the allowable time, as well as, going through all the process and work instructions step-by-step to ensure they are clear, easily followed, and include all necessary duties. These precise and detailed work instructions will help reduce new employee training time and uninformed mistakes, thus increasing production and quality.

Owner Sam Peters  pouring (3)Patter Fam Sauces is now bottling for a variety of companies as well as maintaining production supplies for their own line of products.

One last detail…
The team was also treated to a delicious meal from Patter Fam’s kitchen for lunch. Sam apparently has not yet learned that if you keep feeding the OSU Business Team…they will keep coming back.

Sam and Chris filling bottles and Mick sealing bottles (3)To find out more about information about Patter Fam Sauces or their bottling capabilities, please visit:

SBDC Success Story Video: Saucy Sows

(Submitted by Kimberly Roush, Program Assistant, Ohio Cooperative Development Center and Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

Published on Jun 6, 2016

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at OSU South Centers in Piketon, Ohio assisted Saucy Sows in expanding their product into new markets throughout Ohio.

Client Spotlight: Brad Elmore-Hot Head Burritos (2015)

(Submitted by Kimberly Roush, Program Assistant, Ohio Cooperative Development Center and Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

Successful entrepreneur, Brad Elmore in Hillsboro, Ohio, knows the importance of keeping up with the ever evolving business environment. Brad gained extensive experience in the restaurant industry over many years. He worked in his mother’s small restaurant in his youth. He even paid his way through college working in restaurants and later gained extensive management experience in numerous well-known restaurants.

Brad ElmoreWhen Brad decided to open his own restaurant in 1992, The Wooden Spoon, he sought assistance from The Ohio State University (OSU) Extension with setting up a business plan. Due to his prior success in working with OSU when Brad made the decision to sell the business and invest in franchise ownership, he called the OSU South Centers Small Business Development Center for assistance once again.

Business Development Specialist, Chris Smalley, helped Brad develop a business plan with financial projections to present to lending organizations. Brad said, “People don’t realize that this great resource is out there. Chris also serves as a resource for the Grow Highland County, which helps entrepreneurs’ grow businesses.”

Currently, Brad owns two Subway Restaurants (one inside Walmart in Hillsboro, Ohio, and one inside Walmart in West Union, Ohio). Franchise ownership has been such a success for Brad that he added Hot Head Burritos in Mainville, Ohio, to his business portfolio.

According to Brad, “Running The Wooden Spoon was very different from a franchise. At The Wooden Spoon, we created the menu, cooked everything from scratch, and delivered as part of the catering service. However, with a franchise model, it is all about managing the people. The product procedures are structured for uniformity.”

Brad continues to develop and assess opportunities for expanding into additional locations.

Client Spotlight: Schmelzer Industries (2015)

(Submitted by Kimberly Roush, Program Assistant, Ohio Cooperative Development Center and Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

Schmelzer Industries, Inc. in Somerset, Ohio, was founded in 1984 to manufacture quality fiberglass surfacing veils and light-weight reinforcement mats in the composites industry and began shipping products in 1986. Schmelzer Industries is a family-owned business. Tim Schmelzer said, “My Dad was the first-generation owner and operator. He is retired now, but mom still provides assistance. My siblings and I are involved with various family businesses, and I have taken the lead at Schmelzer Industries, and my sister, Monica, is our site manager.”

Tim Schmelzer 1Schmelzer Industries serves customers across the country and around the world; proudly continuing their tradition of quality products and excellent service. The company supplies products for composite processes—a surfacing veil or light-weight fiberglass reinforcement used in plastic resin mold parts used to retain surfaces.

Processes include:
• Continuous Lamination
• Electrical Flat Sheet
• Filament Winding
• Fiberglass Reinforced Gypsum
• Compressed Molding
• Pre-Forming
• Pultrusion
• Resin Transfer / Vacuum Infusion

Some product use include surfacing for: boats, helmets, lunch trays, pultrusion for windows, cars, airplanes, costume shields and masks, and anything that needs a light, strong surface material.

Tim shares, “Dad kept the business very small, very specialized. In this second generation, we are working on taking our product a little more global. We have done some business around the globe, but we recognize the worldwide industry is growing, and we need to grow with it. We began our effort by seeking input from the International Trade Assistance Center (ITAC) to expand our global reach. We spoke to Melissa Carter and Tom Bainbridge from ITAC to assist us in expanding our market in Germany and Brazil. ITAC shared names of industry contacts as well as an assessment of each country’s culture.”

Tim continues, “ITAC went through the Ohio State European Office in London to get contacts in Germany for potential industry clientele. They found a list of distributors for our product. We have whittled the list down to three and are actively working with one of the three. We received the contact report in March, and we are working on building a business relationship. We are talking about price lists, supply, packaging and shipping, but it all takes time. The contact in Germany is also willing to work on marketing in the Czech Republic and Denmark.”

Tim Schmelzer 2“The second proposed expansion location was Brazil. We have the report from Brazil and have selected two distributors of which to pursue a relationship. We have also connected with the other two potential distributors as well. One helpful piece of information was the information provided by ITAC regarding Brazil’s composites market value.” Tim said, “It gave us some idea of the GDP of the country. We understand the U.S. market because we live here, but when we go to Brazil, we are at a disadvantage.”

Tim describes, “Another part of the Schmelzer Industries plan is to get into different product lines. Only a few companies throughout the world do veil surfacing composite work. Composites are challenging because we are trying to fit other’s products, but we have the expertise to manage that challenge. Our composite can make other products better, and we are marketing it as a solution to companies that may not even now be aware of the benefit.”

To find out more about their products, go to Schmelzer Industries.

Client Spotlight: Gabe Glenn-Glenn Farms (2015)

(Submitted by Kimberly Roush, Program Assistant, Ohio Cooperative Development Center and Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

Blog Pic 1Gabe Glenn of Glenn Farms comes from a long line of farmers. From the time Gabe was four years old, he knew he wanted to have cattle and farm. He began his farming career cleaning out barns and checking on the cattle on his grandfather’s farm. When his grandfather passed, Gabe continued to help his father with the farm — doing hay and raising calves.

Gabe later acquired his own farmland to add to the family farming business. Determined to move his agriculture business forward, he has been investing his time in finding ways to improve the herd and manage costs. Gabe heard about a young farmer’s assistance program and eventually found his way to Brad Bapst, director of the Small Business Development Center at the Ohio State University (OSU) South Center in Piketon, Ohio. Gabe said, “Brad helped me put together a business plan and helped me to complete the Southern Ohio Agricultural and Community Development Foundation (SOACDF) ag development grant application.”

“I have areas where I am skilled,” Gabe continues, “but putting together a business plan at that time was not one of them. Brad was extremely helpful. Where I had questions, Brad guided me. He was a great resource; and without his assistance, I would not have been a successful grant recipient.”

Blog Pic 2With the assistance of the SOACDF grant funds, Gabe added gravel, a feed lot, a feed bin, and acquired a grain drill. According to Gabe, “The additions of the feed lot and bin have cut our feed price down by 30% because we can buy feed in bulk.” Large feed trucks have access to the feed bin, which delivers the bulk feed. “An important thing about feeding cattle is that we have to be efficient and keep track of feed weight so we aren’t feeding the cattle too much. With the feed bin scales, I can flip a switch and measure the weight that goes directly to the feeder. We can see monthly how much feed we are going through and how much weight the cattle are gaining. The hoof price on the steer right now is $1.30 a pound and feed is $.12 a pound so we don’t want the cattle to eat and grow at a rate that would not pay us back at the time of sale. Also with the addition of the grain drill, we almost doubled our row crop acres and improved forages available in our pastures.”

Gabe says, “With the young farmers grant, I was able to get all this in so the grant really helped me to be able to expand and go after a dream. I’m very blessed. One of the luckiest people I know, it seems. I walk outside and look at this and think, man, I can’t believe it. I’ve always known this is what I wanted to do, and I’m extremely fortunate to be able to do it.”

If you are interested in purchasing Angus beef (no growth hormones, no antibiotics, all natural beef), contact Gabe through the Glenn Farms (Beaver, Ohio) Facebook page.

Client Spotlight: Coleman Packaging (2015)

(Submitted by Kimberly Roush, Program Assistant, Ohio Cooperative Development Center and Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

Coleman PackagingGeorge Coleman, owner of Coleman Packaging, opened his own business in Columbus, Ohio more than 20 years ago. He moved to Jackson, Ohio in 1994 to serve a need for the production of packaging for the automotive sector.

A number of years ago, George’s company had a major financial blow when the automotive industry left the Jackson area. He had to close one site and went from 46 employees in 2008 to 15 currently. With the great reputation his company has with his service and quality product, George was able to secure some new contracts and is on the incline once again.

George said, “I’ve never had a sales person, and I’ve been in business for more than 30 years” relying on word-of-word about his great reputation for service and quality products. But when he had an opportunity for assistance from Ryan Mapes, Manager, Ohio State University (OSU) South Centers Endeavor Center (business incubator), Mike Rowe, Director, Manufacturing and Technology Small Business Development Center, and Brad Bapst, Director, Small Business Development Center, he was pleased with the results. George said, “I ask for help, and they arranged a meeting with a potential client.

Coleman Packaging FacilityOne of the Business Development team members came in and did an efficiency assessment to help us streamline our work time. Another member of the OSU South Centers team, Melissa Carter, Business Development Specialist with the Small Business Development Network, helped us create a website. With people like this group to help us, business looks promising.”

For more information about products, go to Coleman Packaging.