Erin Van Berkmoes: SCORE counselors offer expertise on many business topics
Would you know what to do if your competitor opened up shop across the street? Or if your product was featured on NBC's Today Show? What if your best employee just quit?
Sometimes, an entrepreneur needs a sounding board with whom to discuss new business opportunities or looming problems.
To get answers to these questions and many more look no further than the mentors of the Tip of the Mitt SCORE. Members of the chapter include Ivy League graduates, past executives of Fortune 500 companies, small business owners, those who have started a business from the ground up and more.
Bill O'Brien is the chapter's marketing guru. A Yale University graduate, O'Brien has been involved with the SCORE chapter for many years and has become an integral part of many local businesses and their marketing plans. He has experience in sales, marketing, advertising, direct mail, organization planning and banking through his years with Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp and Chase Manhattan Bank.
Ruth Bellissimo is known throughout northern Michigan as the pervious owner and operator of Sunnybank Assisted Living Communities in Petoskey and Charlevoix. Her background in assisted living and resort management has led to extensive experience in volunteering, fundraising and human resources. Bellissimo is the Chapter's local expert on developing and managing lodging and housing facilities.
One of the founding members of Tip of the Mitt SCORE is Herb Carlson; he has served as the chapter's president and also as the Mayor of Petoskey. Carlson, who earned an electrical engineering degree from Michigan State University, has experience in both big and small business worlds, from working for IBM, Lear Aerospace and Michigan Bell Telephone, as well as owning the local big and tall men's clothing shop right here in Petoskey.
Before his retirement, Tip of the Mitt SCORE counselor Bill Hicklen worked in the heavy construction trade with companies such as Chicago Bridge & Iron. He obtained a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, a master of science degree in applied math and a master of business administration with a focus on finance. He now uses his expertise in business planning, business process design, international business, sales and marketing and strategic planning in assisting clients with SCORE.
A recent addition to the SCORE team is B.J. Shawn, co-owner of Bearcub Outfitters in downtown Petoskey. Shawn attended Michigan State University and graduated from Central Missouri State University with a bachelor's degree in Education. After 15 years of teaching in both Missouri and the metro Detroit area she developed and co-owned a home accessories business, and also worked as an apparel buyer. In 1998, Shawn started Bearcub, which has an emphasis on family, fitness, environment and lifestyle and has been providing apparel and gear for infants to adults for the past 15 years.
With a vast background in the automotive industry, engineering and venture development, Bill Collins, who earned a bachelor's in engineering from the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, is a great fit for the Tip of the Mitt SCORE chapter. He is the chapter's current president, and a client favorite because of his knowledge in almost any field of business.
A few years ago Tip of the Mitt SCORE was lucky enough to obtain the expertise of Steve Billings. With his background in manufacturing, marketing, sales, and promotion he has come in handy for both the chapter and their clients. His expertise with Billings Inc. and Martiz Inc. has afforded a vast array of knowledge in running and owning businesses.
Chris Smith, a graduate of the University of Louisville, recently joined the group and has hit the ground running. With his background in manufacturing, real estate development and owning small businesses, Smith has quickly become a client-favorite because of his knowledge of many aspects of the business world and for his help in promoting and growing small businesses.
Margo Johnson is another well rounded member of the group. After acquiring a business administration degree from Michigan State University, she joined the automotive industry and held a variety of positions in human resources management, both domestically and in Europe. Johnson has great expertise in development and implementation of major organization change, human resources leadership responsibilities, organization, succession, personnel and compensation planning, recruiting, development, evaluation and rewarding and separation of employees.
A graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder, Bill Graham has a background not only in big business from his time working for Steelcase, but also small business. He owned his own office supply store in downtown Petoskey. Graham is well rounded in small business ownership and retail sales.
If it's a numbers guy you're looking for then look no further than Tip of the Mitt SCORE member Kerry O'Tool. O'Tool has a background as a certified public accountant, in manufacturing, and in the Toyota Production System. O'Tool is great at helping the clients make sense of their numbers and if they are heading in the right direction.
Ray Juneau is the group's leader in legal matters. As an attorney Juneau is able to help the Tip of the Mitt SCORE clients with their legal questions and guide them in the direction they need to go.
Meeting with one of the Tip of the Mitt SCORE's counselors can help with challenges faced by you, your business or potential business.
Counselors also can help in prioritizing the challenges, based on which would have the biggest impact on your business success.
It's often not easy for entrepreneurs to find time to meet with a mentor when so much is happening with the business that seems -- and maybe is -- more pressing.
But in order to get help, you have to commit some of your time and energy to meeting with a mentor, and the SCORE counselors can be that for you.
For more information about SCORE see www.score.org/tipofthemitt. To schedule an appointment, contact Erin at the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce, (231) 347-4150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The "Scoring in Business" columns provided by SCORE's Tip of the Mitt chapter appear the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month on the Business page. The chapter can be emailed at email@example.com. Mail can be sent in care of the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce, 401 E. Mitchell St., Petoskey, Mich. 49770.