SWOT Analysis Helps Businesses Plan for Growth

SWOT analysis business strategy management process concept diagram illustration

By Finance New Mexico

A business of any size can analyze its internal strengthens and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats — a process known by its acronym, SWOT — to gain insight into the forces it does and doesn’t control and to set realistic goals.

Strengths and weaknesses are within a company’s control: Strengths give it a competitive edge; weaknesses give rivals an opportunity to gain the upper hand. Opportunities and threats originate outside the company, and a company only can control how to anticipate and react to them: Opportunities are conditions a business can leverage to its benefit, and threats are dangers that are best avoided. Continue reading

Pinball Parts Maker Gets Boost From Manufacturing Makeover

By Claudia Infante, Projects Coordinator, New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership

X-Men Pinball Wolverine Bracket made by the company on a 3-D printer; courtesy of Mezel Mods

It started three years ago with a 3-D printer and a lifelong passion for pinball. Former Intel engineer Tim Mezel now runs a small company that makes “mods,” 3-D printed plastic after-market parts installed in pinball machines to make the games more challenging or personalized.

There’s a niche market for these products, and Mezel Mods caters to it.

In 2015, Tim Mezel and his wife, Kristin, moved production from their home to a 1,500-square-foot manufacturing facility in Rio Rancho, where they and two employees design and fabricate novel add-ons and replacement parts for tricked-out pinball machines. Continue reading

Nonprofit Lender Helps Machine Shop Expand, Diversify Client Portfolio

Photo courtesy AMSD

By Finance New Mexico

When Robert Sanchez got a chance to buy the shop where he started his machining career, it was too good to pass up. That was 20 years ago, when Tremble Navigation purchased the Albuquerque machine shop of Terra Avionics and prepared to move the company to Austin.

The new buyer proposed to sell the machine shop to Sanchez and offered him a two-year contract to build parts for Tremble — mostly radios and transponders for small aircraft. That contract alone provided enough revenue for Sanchez to cover the purchase price.

Within four years, the renamed Advanced Machining and Sheetmetal Design (AMSD) had sold off that product line and ended its work with Tremble. By then the company had acquired new customers, and it needed more equipment.

Good Connections

Robert’s wife, Diana, had met Norma Valdez, a loan officer with The Loan Fund, through her work as an escrow officer at Fidelity National Title of New Mexico. In 2012, Diana approached The Loan Fund, New Mexico’s oldest nonprofit community lending organization, for the first time as a client.

The purpose of the first loan was to buy an additional computer numerical control unit that would allow AMSD to keep up with demand and continue building its client base beyond the aviation and electronics industries. Because the machine wasn’t new, the company had problems finding a bank that would lend the money to buy it.

“Norma and The Loan Fund were excited to do business with us because they hadn’t been in this market before,” Robert said. “They financed a piece of equipment for roughly $100,000 … for the sheet-metal side of the shop.”

The new machine added capacity to the shop, allowing AMSD to serve its growing list of clients with both their fabrication and machine processing needs in one place — at significant savings — rather than having some of the work contracted out. It also allowed the company to expand and provide jobs for four full-time workers.

AMSD’s diversified portfolio includes private and government clients in the transportation, medical supply, lighting and electronics industries.

The second loan secured by AMSD is a line of credit that helps the company with cash flow and occasional small purchases.

Good Partners

“The Loan Fund is a great place,” Robert said, “and more people should know about them. They made a loan possible for our growing business during a time when credit was becoming less available.”

Diana said she was pleasantly surprised to realize how invested and supportive the organization is in its clients’ success. “The Loan Fund has been an extension of support and guidance for us,” she said. “As small-business owners, everything has been a learning curve. It’s nice to have an entity like The Loan Fund to help us navigate some of the things that arise as we move forward.”

The Loan Fund’s investments support more than 1,200 New Mexican jobs at businesses that generate more than $100 million in annual revenues. About 60 percent of the organization’s clients are people of color and 45 percent of borrowers are women, and most qualify as low or moderate income borrowers.

To learn more about AMSD, visit www.amsdnm.com. For more information about The Loan Fund, go to www.loanfund.org.

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Simple Steps Can Keep IT Networks Safe

By Steve Resnick, Owner, Capitol Computer

The information age and rise of the internet have changed the way people live, work and interact. But along with better communication come virus attacks, hijacks and hostile invasions that can make the internet seem more like a war zone than a social and information network.

Savvy business owners can protect their frontlines by acting like commanding officers of their internet armies, ensuring that multiple levels of security are in place to repel and combat enemies.

Protection starts with a good enterprise-grade Unified Threat Management (UTM) appliance — also known as a firewall — as the primary defense against invasion of the business’s network, computers and data. Continue reading

Early Assist From Accion Helps Business Owner Train Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

Patrick Jenkins demonstration

Patrick Jenkins demonstration

By Finance New Mexico

In the early 2000s, Patrick Jenkins needed help meeting customer demand at his barbershop, A Better U, in Albuquerque’s Southeast Heights. But good barbers were hard to find, so Jenkins decided to cultivate a younger generation of ambitious hair-care entrepreneurs.

He opened A Better U Academy in 2007 on Lomas Boulevard between Carlisle and San Mateo boulevards and incorporated his original business into the school. Of Albuquerque’s 16 barber colleges, Jenkins said, it’s the only one that trains students not just how to cut, style and shave hair but also how to run a business built on those skills. “We’re committed to being the best,” he said. Continue reading

Business Incubator Opens Doors With Help From Funding Panel

550 Brewing

The incubator’s first tenant, 550 Brewing; photo courtesy 550 Brewing

By Finance New Mexico

When Aztec community leaders envisioned a downtown co-working space and retail-business incubator, they made a plan, found a building and identified initial sources of funding for the project. But they needed additional money to get it off the ground. They turned to New Mexico FundIt, an informal group of federal and state government and nonprofit agencies that meets regularly to help identify capital and fill funding gaps in economic development projects.

FundIt was created by the New Mexico Economic Development Department from a suggestion by a blue-ribbon panel convened to identify ways to streamline development projects in the state. Continue reading

Tularosa Hat Maker Stays Put With USDA Loan

By Finance New Mexico

Bronco Sue Custom Hats gets lots of walk-in traffic. Situated at the crossroads of New Mexico State Highways 54 and 70 in Tularosa, the retail store is a must-stop for those visiting south-central New Mexico tourist attractions such as White Sands National Monument, the town of Ruidoso and Lincoln Historic Site — the most visited state monument in New Mexico.

So when Kenneth and Lu Lyn Brasher, the owners of Bronco Sue Custom Hats, had the opportunity to purchase the building that’s home to their antique hat-making equipment and retail store, they jumped at the opportunity. Like many rural residents, the Brashers didn’t finance the property through a bank. “The people that we bought it from were the ones carrying the paper,” said Lu Lyn. Continue reading

Communities Look to Airports to Spur Economic Development

By Finance New Mexico

Even in the age of the Internet and videoconferencing, a lot of business must be done face-to-face. In Northern New Mexico, that just got a whole lot easier. In December, direct flights between Phoenix and Santa Fe were inaugurated, making it fast and effortless for residents of the Valley of the Sun to reach New Mexico, and vice-versa. Continue reading

Investment in Knowledge Can Pay Early Dividends

Market intelligence

By Finance New Mexico

Before putting money into a new venture, savvy entrepreneurs make another kind of investment: the dedication of time for market intelligence. They learn everything possible about the market they wish to enter, who’s succeeding or failing in it and what alternative products or services are currently filling the need the entrepreneur aims to meet.

Market intelligence helps predict demand for a product and can lead to changes in the proposed offering or result in a pivot to another market sector. Continue reading

Details Can Be Weighty When Renting Commercial Space

By Finance New Mexico

Renting a commercial space is a move many entrepreneurs postpone as long as they can, because it’s one of the biggest expenses and most consequential commitments a startup or young company faces.

A commercial lease binds landlord and tenant to a variety of promises. A well-executed lease can benefit both parties, but a hasty, vague arrangement can break an embryonic enterprise. Continue reading