tv [untitled] May 21, 2012 7:30pm-8:00pm EDT
of our entrepreneurs. and in all of our productivity together, it's this powerful combination that built the greatest economy in the world and it's produced the greatest innovations in the world and it's helped lift generations of americans into the middle class and allowing them to do what kathy said, live the american dream. together we're going to make sure that this proud tradition continues, and together we will create an america that is built to last. thank you very much. [ applause ]
well thank you again for being here. so i now have the great pleasure of bringing forth -- of sitting on a panel that we're going to have together. let me get my notes. but first, where's kathy? so i'm going to invite the other folks who are going to run the panel up to the podium to sit with us. and i'm kboing to also ask kathy martine from at&t to come up and say a few words to you. kathy is the executive vice president for small business solutions and alternate channels at at&t, but she leads a $13 billion business, which is the
services to small business owners. so if any yof you need some help, kathy is here. and she and at&t are really long-time sponsors of national small business week. i really want to thank them so much for their support. welcome kathy up to say a few words and my co-panelists for the rest of the town hall up to join me here. [ applause ] >> thank you, administrator mills, and good morning, everyone. it's such a pleasure to be here. i'm always inspired by administrator mills' comments and stories. you truly are the american dream and you are fueling the american economy. like karen, small business week really is the highlight of my year. i do a lot of public speaking, but nothing makes it as enjoyable than being with all of you because you represent what
america stands for in terms of entrepreneurialism and consistently percent persevering through adversity. and many of you lived that and are here to tell that story. that's why it's so exciting to be here with you. running a business requires a lot of dedication, per sis ten, and the art of the possible because you have to see opportunity when opportunity may not be there. and while the economy is slowly recovering, it's still not enough. and anyone who is committed to sustaining that american dream and building an economy to last must ensure that all of us large corporations as well, has to support small businesses as best we can. so to that point, at at&t we have turned to a kuch l l key areas. first is convincing large companies about the importance of creating a more diverse supplier mix by hiring small businesses. we have a committed goal to hire small businesses as contractors, and we try to persuade other corporations that's really important and that's how we can
help. second, the providing of financing. we heard how difficult it is. it's gotten better, but we have tried to support the financing by the financing of some of our products and services. and third, is technology. to drive future growth. we're supporting initiatives that attract and provide financing and encouraging the use of powerful technologies and applications that help make companies like yours faster and more productive. i hope you'll talk to some of our great sales representatives. but take some of our brochures and see what technology can do for your business. in terms of supplier diversity, in 2011, at&t spent $12 billion with diverse suppliers. most of them small and medium-sized companies. that's 23% of our total spending last year. of that $12 billion, we spent $9
billion with minority-owned firms. we firmly believe if you want to be a leader in innovation, you need to work with diverse suppliers that help you go to the next level. the next area is financing. that is a topic of mine i talk to and remains a significant break on economic progress. the number of small business loans from established lenders has improved, but we can still do more. i know the sba has been working very hard through karen's diligent leadership on making sure she can fill the gaps through other loans and institutions. so have companies like at&t. over the past two decades, at&t has provided $6 billion for municipalities. that allows companies like you to access badly-needed financing and that's been one of the key priorities from the first time ae attended three years ago and
i heard that question time and time again. in 2011 at&t provided $240 million in badly-needed financing. so we continue to place a premium on providing this level of support for one reason. when you have the tools to succeed, we succeed especially in the market segment i'm responsible for. and access to funding is very closely-linked to the third area of focus, and that's access to technology. innovation, and you heard that from the companies that have taken use of support in the past are the oxygen of small businesses. no other sector of the economy innovates more faster or effectively than you do. that's an area we spent a lot of time considering our best practices and understanding how we can help unleash the capacity of your businesses to become smarter and more productive. so i'd like to share a couple examples of how providing
technological support and cash flow. one of them is a company in minnesota that karen had examples from nashville. i don't today. lone ranger is a garden design company. it supplements its income in the winter by plowing snow. snow is plentiful in minnesota in the winter time. for lone ranger, a snowstorm is a fleet management challenge. the more effectively and efficiently you can track and manage drivers, the happy your your customers and the more profitable your business. managing a fleet is anything but smooth sledding. drivers need to know where to go, how to get there, and to track how long to spend at each location. how many jobs you can do during that particular snowstorm makes a difference between a good day and a bad day. now they employ a web-based application that used each mobile device to track the drivers, monitors completion times, and automatly bill customers as each job is
finished so there's no paper in this equation. it also ensures there's not a lot of time spent at starbucks. realtime routing has slashed fuel costs, helped drivers become more efficient, and provide more accurate and timely customer billing, which is always a challenge to small businesses and better business productivity. in miami, a florida-based corporate catering company stands out in a crowd of competitors because in a market like florida and miami, catering co comes down to how good your food looks and the importance of how your customers will perceive it. so what looks good takes good. armed with smart phones, the compa companies event managers use realtime photo sharing to share pictures of table tops for modification by the owner. the managers can make any needed adjustments on the spot. they can also send the photos to the clients and attach a final bill. the result, more satisfied
customers and more timely receivables. in addition, corporate caters manages their fleet of 40 drivers on a busy day. ensuring the food is arriving where it's supposed to, when it's supposed to, to the client's satisfaction. smart phones and tablets have become critical aspects in your business arsenal. that's one of the reasons why this morning we're announcing a fleet of mobile services called at&t mobile protection pack. it's designed to protect mobility lifeline and your livelihood and provides insurance and something i know i could use, gps tracking, of your location. if you have left your phone somewhere, it can track where it is and enhanced support for your mobile devices. our goal is to make it easier for small business owners to replace or to locate missing devicing and get the support you need to focus on running your business, not tracking down your cell phone. darlene and rick are going to share their examples of how it's
helped them, but it's key as an industry in terms of how we can help. let me close by saying i'm so thrilled to be on this panel. i stand in awe of your commitment, dedication, and positive attitude, not to mention the fact you're making mon money. and i have no doubt given the right resources and technologies, you'll continue to provide the foundation for a strong economy. thank you for what you do so well every day, and i hope you're as pleased as i am to work with an organization as wonderful as the sba to help you do even better. thank you so much. [ applause ] >> good morning. can you all hear okay? that buzz is kind of annoying, but want to make sure you can
hear well. my name is rick cochran, the president and ceo of medical international corporation. last year i was the sba small business person of the year. [ applause ] thank you. it really was a glorious moment. something for those of you who will be there today and one person obviously will be selected. and it is a great honor. it's a very humbling experience, but i think it's something then we have a responsibility, something i have felt over the last year as i had an opportunity to speak at rotary clubs and even some commencement addre addresses. things i have never done before, but to share with people the impact of small business in america, and i think that really is the key, and i appreciate the vision that administrator mills provides and what she has done for us. i want to tell one side story
and then i want to introduce darlene miller. after last year, after winning the national award, going home that weekend, it was a full weekend. a lot of interviews, activities, we had an international delegation coming to our facility. we met with them sunday night. that sunday night happened to be the evening that the tornado hit in joplin, missouri. so the next morning one of my staff members came to me and she said, we don't know what we don't know, but everybody is scanning trying to get information about the tornado that decimated the hospital. there was just little information in those early hours, and so we thought, you know, as i stood on that stage as i thought about the moment with administrator mills and the moment i felt the appreciation and respect for the opportunity to be recognized as a national small business person, i said, you know, let's do something that we haven't done per se.
we took a mobile unit. i'm involved in mobile hospitals. we took one of our units and put it on the road to joplin, not even knowing if there was a need or not. it end ed up that that was a seven-story building that was decembimated and not only did t unit get used, but when the ceo of that hospital saw what we had on site, they said we need another one. and our two mobile surgery units have been in use until just last month when they converted to an interment facility while they were building their permanent one. it was inspiring, but it also inspired me. so thank you for that. [ applause ] i would like to introduce darlene miller. darlene is the owner and ceo, a global leader in the precision
industry. they are located in minnesota manufacturing products for customers around the globe in a variety of industries including aerospace, medical, transportation, and many others. they have received a number of awards, i think notable, is that darlene was the sba 2006 minnesota state winner. she was also the 2008 national chamber of commerce business person for the entire u.s. and currently she has been appointed to sit on the president's council for jobs and competitiveness. darlene? [ applause ] thank you and good morning. i'm really excited to be here today. my real job is owning a small business. i have 38 employees. and we are in the very high-tech
precision machining. we do a lot of things in aerospace, defense, and have made some great connections through the sba and with nasa. so we make a lot of tiny components from metals and plastics. so that's my real job i do every day, but i'm really excited to serve on the president's council for jobs and competitiveness and be a voice for small business. and i really truly believe that the president and all of the staff have really listened to a lot of our recommendations and made a lot of the changes, as administrator mills alluded to earlier in the small business jobs act, and many other areas such as regulatory that we're also working on. so i'm really excited to be here today and answer any questions that people might have. >> okay. thank you. i think you hear a lot about the opportunities, a lot of the things the sba are doing, and
that's really important. that's critical to the success for small business. but now we have an opportunity kind of in a smaller group, a town hall forum, to have some dialogue, some interchange amongst the panel to hear your questions and to be able to participate in this interactive. i think this is an opportunity not everybody is a billion-dollar company. some of us are much smaller. some of us are starting up. some of us have been in business for years and still in the growth stage. so what are the problems? what are the kinds of issues that impact you? things that you'd like to ask, things that we could talk about. there are certainly a few, and i'll just toss out as i look at some of the issues that are out there. we always talk about the importance of capital, and i think you have heard some wise counsel on that. but there's a practicality of
capit capital. how many businesses start off, you know, with too much capital in their banks? probably not many of us. we're struggling, we're trying to find the way to piece things together, we're trying to boot strap it along the way, and yet i think that's the message. i think that's the heart of america. we do what it takes, whatever it takes, however long it takes, we are persistent and we get the job done. i think we have proven that over and over again as a country. but i would like to say from my perspective, wub one of the things i know we have done is when i initially started the company, i went out to 70 physicians, individuals with whom i had been working. i was setting up surgery centers around the country. and out of those 70 doctors, i said, okay, let's see if i could find some folks who might be willing to invest.
so i wrote a letter and put a plan together, and out of 70 physicians, 35 came back with a positive response. if you're doing any kind of marketing, 50% in anything is a good number. so i took the feedback and a few of them said, let's get a few of us together. so there was three surgeons, a retired cpa and myself who started the company initially. then along the way, we did some leasing. we leased a unit, we sold a unit and kind of that boot strapping as we call it. to bring cash in for today, trying to spin the opportunity to the next sale. you've all been there. you've felt it and understood it. but those are areas and ways and me means we can do things. i was interviewed on an msnbc maybe six months ago and they talked about -- they thought i
had a unique story because in part, we had a period of time when people were not paid for some of their time with a company. this is when we were a little smaller. and they said how do you get away with that? how do you get people to literally work for free? and so the way they do the interview is they interviewed me and then they had a panel discussion afterwards, but i had no chance to respond. one of the comments was that two of the panelists were very impressed and flattered by the fact that i was able to keep the company alive and thriving by getting creative solutions. the third panelist said that's taking advantage of those people. what i didn't get to share was that we didn't ignore the value of what those participants put into the company. we offered them additional bonuses when we had the funds and we covered more than whatever their shortfall was. we offered stock in addition. so we did things that made a
difference to them. thoughts, darlene, on that? starting off and how to kind of launch forward maybe with and without all the capital? >> i obviously didn't have the capital when i first started -- or went into business. i wanted it to buy 45% of it, and i went to the bank. a bank president that i had met once and said, i desperately need money. how can i get an sba loan? really as, again, administrative mentioned, having a mentor and friend, and he became that and actually helped me get that first sba loan, walked me through the whole process and helped me with my business plan. it if it weren't for that loan and for him, he wouldn't be here today. then in 2008 when we decided to double or space again, and we started from the very small 8,000 square foot and we're about 34,000 square feet.
the sba came forth, and i was able it to get another business loan. reaching out, finding that mentor and that friend and then utilizing the services that are out there and asking a lot of questions is really key. >> anything to share with that? >> one point is that all of you in this room have been successful. you're the winners, but we want to make sure all throughout this country that entrepreneurs have access and opportunity. that's why this combination of loan guarantees, micro-loans and meant f mentorship counseling and assistance is critical. in the early days you don't know what you don't know. sometimes we have found -- i don't know what got us in the small business development centers. if you walk in, we have small business development centers
that in the depths of the credit crunch we're able to take 70% of the people unable to get aa loan and sit down with them and we think their business plans and cash needs and do their presentations and get them bankable. that was in north carolina. once again, use all the cs. >> thank you. kathy, i'm wondering from your perspective, and two, folks that would have interest in maybe wanting to reach out and get some information on your program, how do we do that? >> well, first is we should stop by our area outside here. we have a number of brochures that really are about applications that can help you run yoor business more effectively. we can do everything like a cell phone, which, of course, all of you have access to and use. we have found very successful in small businesses is technical support. many times you don't anticipate
the growth of your business and don't do everything you need to do with technology. we provide technical support resources. another area of importance is hosting applications. we talked about the roefrs. that was the only site for the business and they have no backup and the data was not maintained. we talk about hosting applications and making sure you have a redid you understand see plan to make sure it's not just in the hardware in the pc room. we talk a lot about small business customers with all of our technical discussions. people should have an account representative. we're happy to make that person available to you. there's several colleagues here today. we make sure we have account teams follow up with you depending where you're located. you can call us, and you can e-mail us. we have online communication. you can check out website and portal app and brochures available to you. we try to position ourselves as the trusted adviser to run your
business, and we've learned a lot over the years. finance service customers are different than professional services, and we try to make sure our sales teams are focused to provide the best level of support to you to help make sure your business is growing. >> thank you. please, if there are questions from the audience, we're looking to receive those. we have a list of things we can certainly share, happy it to share, but it's really your questions and comments that are important. yes. >> they need to pick it up. they have a live feed going to other folks. step up to the mike. if. >> thank you, sir. can you state your name. >> sure. i'm bob mchugh, consulting engineer. i bought a consulting engineering firm 15 years ago, and i've been running it since.
but now i find that i've got less employees than five years ago and three years ago. i recently had to dumb down the health insurance plan because the plan i liked and the plan we've had for years just got too expensive. none of the tax credits apply to us, because all our employees make more than $25,000 a year. my bank told me that they were under pressure from federal banking regulators writing down loans, and my loan was suspect, even though ipts been there for 15 years. it's just a credit one. the 401(k) plan is getting more expensive every day, and now we have personal liability as business owners. the question is is that worth keeping? my great fear is not that the government will come to some other program and help us, but one day soon my wife of 37 years
is going to roll over in the morning and whisper in my ear, you know, honey, i'm not going to sign for that bank loan anymore because we need to keep something for our retirement. you're getting older. maybe we can't wait out this recession. that's the reality that i see as a small business owner and br entrepreneur. maybe the panel could give me some advice on that front. >> this is a story that i've heard from small business owners all across the country, especially in the beginning of this recession when we really had a lot of bank lines and credit lines that were just pulled. and as you just described, we have done -- let me take a couple of pieces of the concerns
you mentioned. they've been universal voices, and we've been able to bring some of these forward as concerns of small businesses. so, first of all, in this access to credit, are the regulators paying attention to making sure that guidance that's done at the top of the regulators is transferred all the way down to the regional regulators so that small businesses, banks serving small businesses don't get -- the pendulum doesn't go too far the other way? i will tell you that we are having constant conversations with our colleagues in the regulatory bodies here to make sure that they are focused on the needs of small business. that they do not get caught in undue regulation or make sure that their banking regulation that comes down is properly -- the guidance is communicated,
and fdic was very, very helpful in this, making sure that local and regional regulators understood what the guidance was to make sure small business loans didn't get classified that shouldn't. that's an ongoing process, and plij to you. i pledge to lots smauf businesses we're going to continue to have those conversations making sure that small banks, community banks and everything is in the wrong with the regulators. that's something that across the administration we were very focused on. access to capital of critical. just quickly on health care for a second. i want to make sure that everybody knows some of the benefits that are available. you mentioned a tax credit you didn't qualify for, but everybody else should take a look and see if they qualify for the health care tax credit. the other piece is that with the health care legislation in 2014
there are going to come marketplaces where insurance companies are bidding on the business of small businesses creating more opportunity for you to find a plan and a desire that works for you, but running a small business as you just described is an ongoing challenge and we want to be there whether it's for retirement planning. i think having a counselor look at your business, work with you maybe in the scoreboards, ken if you're here somebody who has face add he retirement situation in a business to help you navigate those things. i know you have a terrific business, and we need to make it successful. >> i'm neal kimball with the kimball companies, and we're an entrepreneurial success reward recipient in the southeast. yesterday i was at boston university. my daughter graduated, and my