Successful Elevator Pitches Are Part Prep, Part Improv

By Sandy Nelson, Finance New Mexico

Whether it’s made on an elevator or on the ground floor, the 30- to 60-second business pitch that’s named for the place it’s often made should sound unrehearsed and authentic even if it’s the product of exhaustive thought and preparation — which it should be.

The “elevator pitch” is a concise summary of a product, service or idea that is so intriguing or compelling that the listener wants to hear more. It’s the hook that catches the attention of the potential investor, client or collaborator. Continue reading

Continuous Improvement Helps Belen Manufacturer Go Global

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

Sisneros Brothers Manufacturing embodies the entrepreneurial notion that finding the right niche can transform talent into business success.

Avenicio Sisneros, founder of the Belen company, began as a cabinetmaker in the 1950s but shifted to making and installing sheet metal ducting for houses in 1987. With him were sons Martin, Alex and Philip.

Demand quickly grew beyond the residential market, and the company began manufacturing and installing ductwork for larger commercial customers. By 1990, Sisneros Brothers abandoned installation altogether to focus on manufacturing custom sheet metal ductwork for a wide variety of customers. Continue reading

Mind Your NTTCs: Avoid Penalties by Verifying Document Accuracy

By Paul Braverman for Finance New Mexico

In 2009, Gregg Hull was running a shipping company in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, when he got news that would strike fear into the most lion-hearted soul: The New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department would be auditing his finances for the past three years.

In a recent interview, Hull related the surprise he felt when the auditors focused on transactions involving Non-Taxable Transaction Certificates (NTTC). Surprise turned to despair when the audit expanded to six years, and to shock when Hull was told that he owed the state $120,000 in taxes that he had failed to collect. The amount threatened to shutter his business. Continue reading

Supplier Financing Leverages Trusted Relationships

Desert Blends of Taos; photo courtesy of the company

By Finance New Mexico

Vendors who supply products to retailers don’t always have the capital needed to fill a large order. If the vendor can’t get the money — or can’t spend all its capital delivering a big order it has to wait 90 days to be paid for — it misses a chance to increase its profits and expand demand.

This is a common situation for many startups and small businesses that can’t borrow from traditional banks or even nonprofit community development loan institutions because the business principals have no track record, uneven credit histories, scant collateral or unclear citizenship status. Continue reading

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.

Download 492_Nonprofit Lender Helps Machine Shop Expand Diversify Client Portfolio PDF

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