The Longwood Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) has adopted a new regional approach that utilizes experienced, independent consultants to better serve the small businesses in 19 counties and six independent cities in South-Central Virginia.
“Where we had five specific office location before, we’ve created three sub-regions,” Longwood SBDC Executive Director Sheri McGuire said. “We’ve shifted Mecklenburg and Brunswick into our central region covered from Farmville. Lin Hite manages client services in our western region as regional director. Ellen Templeton manages client services in our eastern region as regional director.”
In addition to LSBDC’s staff of regional directors and general business analysts, the independent consultants will provide a broader menu of services and higher level of skill sets.
New to the LSBDC consultant team is Jon Van Cleave, who has 25 years of experience with the global corporation, Reynolds Metals/Alcoa, as well as working as an independent consultant.
“Billion-dollar companies put a lot of money behind financial planning and analysis. Small businesses need the same analysis — just on a smaller scale,” Van Cleave said.
“I do financial planning and analysis including business evaluations and acquisition integration, product and customer profitability analysis, and budgeting and forecasting.”
Van Cleave, who has been traveling on a weekly basis for the past seven years, looks forward to settling in Farmville. He and his wife are currently renovating an older home on High Street.
“I’m looking forward to focusing on Virginia,” he added. “I’m the kind of consultant that likes to work side-by-side with a client — not just come in, advise and leave. I want to work as a partner.” Van Cleave will be available to work throughout the SBDC territories.
Michael Duncan and Kelvin Perry continue to serve as independent consultants in the western region and are available for online consultations throughout the territory as necessary.
“Michael Duncan specializes in manufacturing and operations for existing businesses ,” McGuire explained. “Kelvin Perry, who works for the City of Danville in the economic development office, also works as an independent consultant for LSBDC on an as-needed basis.”
“I provide counseling to start-ups or for clients who want to grow an existing business,” Perry said. “I meet with clients in Martinsville after hours, but I’m flexible.”
Randy Lail provides independent counseling on a volunteer basis.
“He’s a retired CFO for Peebles Department Store whose specialty is retail and finance,” McGuire said.
A recent addition the LSBDC office in Farmville is Brandon Hennessey, who completed his MBA at Longwood University. As business analyst, Hennessey assists clients with marketing, financial analysis, and developing a business plan.
“I can give clients a good practical abstract of where they’re headed and what actions they need to take to be successful,” Hennessey said. “Developing interpersonal relationships with my clients is important to me — I want them to feel comfortable in discussing their plans and problems.”
McGuire sees the regional structure with new consultants and analysts as a way to provide greater service to small business owners in the LSBDC service area.
“We believe that providing specific and specialized resources to grow existing businesses can create an even greater impact in the community,” she concluded. “Assisting start-ups also remains an important part of what we do.”