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Advanced Rail Systems

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In August 2015, President/CEO, Coy Beaman formed Advanced Rail Systems, LLC (ARS), a USA company. ARS is a family owned, rural company that manufactures railway switches. The railway switches are a product that is perhaps, the most advanced on the market today and arguably far superior to all other railway switches.

Mr. Beaman came to the McLennan SBDC in 2019 to discuss SBA financing of a new facility. The SBDC met with key management, discussed operations and options for the construction and permanent financing of a new facility. The current operations were in a rural market, in a hay barn located in a pasture close to Kosse, Texas.

SBDC advisors helped with log term planning, introductions to local bankers and connecting resources in IPO’s. The company had started exporting to railroad companies located in Canada, Brazil, Mexico, South America, and the Netherlands.

Advanced Rail Systems had to overcome significant tragedy in 2021. Coy Beaman, CEO and Co-founder died in a car accident on the icy roads of February 11, 2021, during an unprecedented snowstorm affecting the entire state of Texas. The loss of President/CEO, Coy Beaman took place just as the company started expanding their operations through the construction on a 30,000 square foot building.

The expansion was financed with a $4,9M SBA 7A loan with Byline Bank in Dallas, Texas. The $4.9M was for the purpose of constructing the 30,000 square foot building ($3.2M), paying off $1.6M in private lending, and covering $100,000 in closing costs.


Volunteerism and community involvement is important to ARS. Current CEO Sam Lindsay, Co-founder Coy Beaman and his wife Mona Beaman have been heavily involved with the Lion’s Club for many years, serving in leadership roles.

Advanced Rail Systems held their grand opening of the new production facility with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Congressman Pete Sessions in attendance. Mr. Beaman’s contributions to the railroad industry and his volunteerism were showcased and celebrated and Mona Beaman accepted a proclamation from Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Despite the pandemic, ARS had had substantial sales increases from $3,000,000 to $10,000,000 and 20 employees.

The current ownership and management are led by Sam Lindsey and Dilsen Rodrigues. For the past 20 years, Sam Lindsey has been heavily involved in all aspects of administration and finance, including planning and resolution. Dilsen Rodrigues, Co-founder and VP of Engineering and international sales has extensive experience with developing robotics, which has been instrumental in his design of industry-leading switch machine technology.  Dilsen also manages international sales and has successfully developed customer relations in many countries as he fluently speaks four languages and knows the international rail market extensively.

Toya’s Precious Jewels

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Background:  Ed and La’Toya Mayberry came to the UTPB-Small Business Development Center in November 2018.  They owned a homebased daycare since 2010 but, needed to expand their growing business into a larger facility in Midland, Texas.


SBDC Assistance:  Ed and La’Toya worked with the SBDC consultants to develop a business plan, which they use to obtain capital to open the location in September 2019.  During COVID, they continued to work with the SBDC to plan for their second location, which opened in October 2021. Toya’s Precious Jewels now has 24 employees and continues to grow.  Both owners are very active in their community and the business has a significant social media presence.

Hidden Lake Restaurant Group, Inc

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The SBDC Helps Restaurant Owner Save 74 Jobs During COVID-19 Disaster

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted the global food industry as governments shut down restaurants and foodservice businesses to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. Dining in restaurants essentially stopped overnight and social distancing requirements and safety regulations took full effect. While several businesses pivot and adapt to the new realities, many others continue to suffer from the unprecedented fallout. Many business owners experienced severe decline in sales, significant staff reduction and even permanent closures.

According to National Restaurant Association, more than 3 million restaurant jobs and $25 billion in industry sales were lost during the first 22 days of March 2020 because of the virus. Charles Felts, owner of the Hidden Lake Restaurant Group, Inc, also suffered a tremendous downturn in revenue resulting from pandemic. Felts owns

and operates two restaurants: Opus Ocean Grille and Opus Bistro & Steakhouse.

Economic Relief

Seeking disaster relief, Felts contacted San Jacinto College Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in April 2020 for emergency assistance and resources.

“Charles’s restaurants were heavily impacted by the pandemic, so he reached out for assistance in obtaining financial relief,” said SBDC Director and Business Advisor Herb Hildebrand. “I advised and educated him on the various SBA, CARES Act programs and helped him navigate and apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).”

With the help of the SBDC, Felts quickly received economic relief. He received the PPP loan, as well as the EIDL in May 2020. “The financial relief I received not only helped maintain business operations, but also helped me retain and save 74 jobs,” said Felts. “I thank the SBDC for their swift assistance, dedication, time and valuable resources and connections.”

Repeat Client

Felts continues his relationship with the SBDC and views the advisors and network as a trusted resource. In May 2021, he contacted Hildebrand for preparation and assistance for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) application. As a result, Felts’ Hidden Lake Restaurant Group, Inc. was awarded the RRF funds needed to maintain operations at both restaurants.

Now a long-term client, Felts encourages other business owners to utilize SBDC as a first-choice resource. “The SBDC is here to help, and I’m truly thankful to have this relationship.”


For one-on-one, no-cost, confidential business advising, contact us today. Our SBDC advisors are here to help you start, grow or expand your small business.

Valley Sports

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No Stranger to Overcoming Disasters


The Situation: Valley Sports enjoys keeping its customers fully stocked with quality, custom screen-printed and embroidered items and other promotional products. Located in Mission, Texas, the business launched in 2005, and Mrs. Normalinda Ortiz took over operations in 2014. A pandemic-induced reduction in orders from local school districts and non-profit groups created a record negative impact on revenue in 2020. This led to daily concerns about the business’ capability to weather the crisis. Deciding to make a change and increase its business, Valley Sports quickly pivoted.  The business began marketing and selling custom-order facemasks. They also reached out the SBDC for guidance, as they navigated the pandemic.


SBDC Assistance: The business applied for and was originally declined for Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funding due to a change of address that resulted from a

change of business location due to building damage caused by Hurricane Hannah in 2020.  An SBDC client since 2018, Mrs. Ortiz contacted the UT Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Small Business Development Center (SBDC) upon realizing that she needed assistance with addressing a decline of her EIDL application. Business Advisor Marivel Mata responded immediately, providing her with guidance to appeal the decision. With SBDC assistance, the business successfully reapplied and secured EIDL relief funding, as well as 1st and 2nd round Paycheck Protection Program funding, which helped to provide much-needed working capital and to retain valued employees.


As it generated a new revenue stream while neutralizing some of its financial challenges, the business was helped in seeking business guidance and technical support, pivoting its offerings, and obtaining relief funding.  “SBDC continued to follow up and sent us nothing but a positive outlook to help us better cope with the stressful situation.”  Normalinda Ortiz, Owner – Valley Sports.

Quality Stone Company - Texas State SBDC

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Immediately after graduating from college, Michael Doty and Todd Denton purchased Quality Stone Company, a rock quarry business located outside of Florence, Texas. As young entrepreneurs, the co-owners were also interested in figuring out how they could minimize the negative impacts of their industry on the environment. They had an innovative idea to repurpose rock dust, a waste product generated by quarries. Not only would the solution minimize the negative impacts on the environment, but it would also provide a revenue source from what would otherwise be a waste product.


Michael and Todd were referred to the Texas State University (TSU) Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to assist in researching the cost and feasibility of re-purposing the rock waste. Business Advisor Bill Thompson introduced them to Dr. Gary Beall of the Materials Science, Engineering and Commercialization

(MSE)Cprogram at Texas State University. Dr. Beall’s team confirmed that their rock dust is 100% calcium and has a commercialized market value. One of the manycommercial uses for the calcium is as a bonding element in the manufacturing of steel and other manufacturing processes. Currently, the team is working to discover if the company’s calcium carbonate rock dust can be used in Feldspar, which is a bonding agent in the manufacturing of brick.

Bill also introduced the owners to Dr. Dennis Smart, professor of the MBA program at TSU. Dr. Smart’s graduate students assisted the owners with estimating the value of their calcium dust and the cost of the machinery and equipment required to execute on this strategy. This research is assisting the company as they continue to explore this promising revenue stream.


“Our experience with the SBDC has developed into a professional relationship that offers a broad footprint of contacts and expertise.”

– Todd M. Denton, Managing Partner

Mireles Party Ice


Packaging crushed ice into 40 lb. paper bags was the earliest stage of a business that would grow to serve clients across Central and South Texas. Located in San Antonio and opened by Jesus “Jesse” Mireles, III in 2001, Mireles Party Ice is the culmination of a family business that has evolved from early roots.

In 1974, with the help of his father, Jesse and his wife, Melinda Mireles, opened a grocery store that catered to various events with a high volume of requests for kegs and ice. Although the store became the largest keg distributor in San Antonio, Jesse found greater value in focusing the business on ice manufacturing. Through the 1980’s, the couple purchased ice blocks from local ice companies and packaged crushed ice in paper bags. By the 1990’s, Jesse had acquired two 2,400 lb. ice makers and in 2001, he built his first ice plant.

With plans to leave the family business to his son, Jesse Mireles IV, Jesse IV

assumed the role of vice president and contacted the San Antonio Small Business Development Center for assistance. Since working on the company’s business plan, loan preparation, distribution forecasts and projections, Mireles Party Ice has seen great progress.

The company secured a $2.6 million SBA loan, a $350,000 commercial loan, and retained 35 jobs. Today, the business is in the midst of growing into its second location. With plans to shut down their original location, the new 26,000 square foot facility has the capacity to produce up to 350 tons of ice per day. The company’s 12 operating trucks deliver to a diverse client base including convenience stores, restaurants, bars, construction companies, airlines, food processors and more. By 2020, the company plans to expand its region farther South.

“The SBDC provided comprehensive documentation and expertise to assist with the preparation of our business plan, which received numerous compliments,” said Vice President Jesus Mireles, IV.

Hurricane Harvey Recovery

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About six months following Terry Schneider’s brain surgery, Hurricane Harvey struck Texas and damaged her home and business space. She applied for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and for a U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loan but was denied for both in mid-September, 2017.

“I wasn’t getting anywhere,” said Schneider, 72.  With the help of the University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center (SBDC), she appealed the SBA’s denial and was approved for a disaster loan of $25,000 in late November. Schneider said writing an appeal letter can make all the difference, and others should, too, if they still need help after being denied.

Schneider had to have surgery because she had a brain aneurysm that was most likely the result of a wreck in 2000, she said. Before her brain surgery, she was an optometrist in Victoria and Aransas Pass.  After being denied disaster assistance,

Schneider reached out to one of her close friends, who recommended she go see the University of Houston-Victoria SBDC. Humphreys, the center’s executive director, said the two met the day before Thanksgiving and wrote an appeal email to the SBA on Schneider’s iPhone. “The appeal process is something that more people need to know about,” he said. “Sometimes the reason they’re declined is a minor issue.”

When an applicant writes an appeal letter, they’re telling the SBA they want the agency to look at their case again. When someone sends an appeal letter, Humphreys said, higher level officials make the decision to approve it or not. “It’s really letting the SBA know more details and extenuating circumstances,” he said. “If you don’t let them know, then they go down the road and look at another one.”

Humphreys said when people are denied, they often automatically move on and look for other options. He said the process can take time, but if the appeal is approved, it’s worth the wait, especially if someone needs the help. SBA disaster loans are available to homeowners, renters, small business owners and nonprofits for damages to buildings, loss of property and loss of business income because of Hurricane Harvey, Humphreys said.  “There are so many people that need help,” he said.

Schneider’s roof was substantially damaged, letting water into her upstairs living area. She owns a two-story building and has her optometrist office downstairs along with a smaller living area. Now that Schneider has the SBA disaster loan, she has options for what she’s going to do next, she said. When she was denied, she was at a standstill.  Once she finishes repairing her roof and air conditioning and removing the mold from her home, she hopes to become an optometrist again or rent the business space to a barber.  “I need to sharpen up my skills and get myself going,” she said. “I’m ready.”

“She was so happy when she called and told me she got that letter approving her. It was the coolest thing,” Humphreys said. “She is going to be able to fix a residence and get her rental property back. In addition to working with SBDC is here to help folks like Terry with appeal letters, contingency plans, and available resources for disaster recovery.”

There are over 50 SBDCs in Texas working every day with business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs on their business issues and exploring growth opportunities.  SBDCs in the area impacted by the disaster have the capacity to walk business owners thru various application processes, reconstruct financials, develop and analyze contingency plans, submit appeals if denied, and more. SBDCs are funded by the SBA, the State of Texas, and local colleges and universities.  Find your local Texas SBDC at

Independence Coffee

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When the Independence Coffee Company (Brenham, Texas) was established in 2003, it began by roasting 2,000 pounds of coffee. Owners Ragan and Christi Bond like to joke that they gave away 1,800 pounds of that first batch and drank the rest themselves.

Today, Independence Coffee roasts approximately 620,000 pounds of coffee per year. Along the way, they worked with the Blinn College SBDC to make smart choices and, even more importantly, avoid the pitfalls of owning a small business.

The Blinn College SBDC helped Ragan and Christi expand into a new, larger facility to accommodate their growth.  For over ten years, the SBDC has provided no-cost advising services regarding loans, equity financing, marketing strategies, management delegation, and financial analysis.

“I credit the SBDC for saving our company from making the wrong decisions,” Ragan said.  “We have become accustomed to using our local SBDC for many of our business needs as Independence Coffee Company grows.”

Today, Independence Coffee has 20 full-time employees and 10 part-time employees, and their coffee can be found all over the state of Texas. Look for it at your local H-E-B or Whole Foods……. Savor Your Independence.



Rentech was started with one individual and a vision in 1996.  Founder and owner, Jack Rentz, came to the SBDC with a vision, experience and drive.  A TTU graduate of the Whitacre School of Engineering, he worked hand-in-hand with his SBDC Business Advisor to produce financial projections to support a successful financial proposal. Through the combined financial support of a local bank and the Development Corporation of Abilene, a company was started that would change the face of Abilene.

Today, Rentech designs and builds custom boilers for petro-chemical, power generation and other heavy industries. Rentech and its two associate companies, Rentech Boiler Services and Frontier Welding Products together employ 335 individuals in and around the city of Abilene, Texas.  Throughout the years the SBDC supported Rentech by introducing the company to the U.S. Foreign and Commercial Services for international contacts, and now a strong percentage of the company’s

revenue is derived from export sales. Rentech Boilers has product installed in 34 different countries around the world. In 2016 the company boosted a total revenue of $118M with 20% of total revenue derived from exports.

Years later, under the supervision of their SBDC Business Advisor, a Texas Tech graduate student conducted a business valuation for the client. This was a learning experience for the student and a non-fee service to the company.  Throughout the course of the company’s growth, Rentz utilized the SBDC as a trusted source of professional business guidance. “The SBDC worked with me back in ’96 to compile the initial financial projection that I took to the bank that got me the start-up funding— and they have been with me through the life of this business,” said Jack. He and his wife Becky are very involved in and very generously support many activities within the community, Texas Tech University, and the SBDC.  Jack was named Distinguished Alumni of the year by TTU in 2011.

The Lodge

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Dr. Sheela was in private practice in India from prior to the couple moving to New York in 1992. From 1992 to 1998 she was a stay at home mom raising her son. In 1998 she entered an Externship in Psychiatry at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Jamaica, New York. She entered Residency Training in Psychiatry in El Paso, Texas and Residency Training in Psychiatry in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 2003 she moved to Texas and joined her husband in private practice in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. Dr. Sheela is currently the Director of the Geriatric Psychiatric Unit at Titus Regional Medical Center in Mt. Pleasant.

In 1989, Dr. Singa entered his Residency in Hematology in Falkirk, Scotland. In 1992 he entered a Residency Program in New York, after completing Residency he moved to El Paso, Texas and was the Internist at William Beaumont Army Medical Center where he became an Internist at Bienvivir Senior Health Services. In January 2002 he moved to Mt. Pleasant and opened his private practice.

The Singaperumal’s survived medical school and residencies to rise in the medical profession to lay the foundation for greater things. After becoming Physicians they accepted the responsibility of their pledge they made to understand their patients, to hear them and to understand the symptoms their body’s experience. They worked to understand where their patient’s minds were taking them so the care they received would come from their hearts.  They became physicians because they understood suffering from the experience of many trials and struggles of going through medical school and residencies. They wanted their experiences and longing for a quiet and comfortable state to be felt by their patience – but only through caring and healing could they provide this care. The symptoms and circumstances may have been different but the emotions were the same.


In 2010, Dr. Sheela began planning to build an Assisted Living Facility to care for those with Memory Loss. In 2011, she purchased a 10 acre parcel of land and selected an architect to draw the site plan. Once the site plan was completed, she began getting construction cost estimates. The first estimate took six months and projected costs were too high however, in 2012 she secured a second contractor and construction costs were acceptable.

The total project cost was approximately $5 million which put her in search for a lender. Securing a loan for the $5 million facility was indeed a difficult and time consuming process. She went to several banks, including her own and time and time again was turned down for funding.  She eventually found a lender interested in the project however, despite the interest there were numerous delays. Dr. Sheela found herself spending an inordinate amount of time going back and forth with the lender trying to satisfy their requirements for additional documentation.  After months of being turned down by banks, she visited Federal Community Bank in Mt. Pleasant.  After hearing her story, the lending officer realized that a SBA loan would be best for her needs and she needed to meet with the Northeast Texas SBDC for assistance.

In July 2011, SBDC Business Advisor Beverly Austin met with Dr. Sheela and determined the SBA 504 loan program would be the best option for financing her project and explained that banks would be more willing to make the loan with a guarantee behind their funds.  Beverly introduced her to the SBA 504 CDC representatives in Texarkana and the CDC began working on obtaining an SBA 504 approval. SBDC Business Advisor Beverly began assisting her with refining her business plan, adding market research, trends, competitor and industry analysis, trends, cost structures and financial projections.

Initially, the 504 team worked with the same lender the Singa’s originally worked with because they had all the documentation, contracts, and architectural renderings thereby, saving time on the process. Unfortunately, the lender’s loan committee was still undecided and the funding did not come through.  In 2013, the Singas were positioned well with their down payment and a better structure when the 504 team took the loan to the First National Bank in Hughes Springs where she was finally able to receive a written loan approval and commitment. The approval and commitment was for the construction loan and permanent take-out loan.

In 2013, Dr. Singa was ready to begin construction on the Assisted Living Facility after the long and very challenging process of getting funding. In February 2015, the beautiful 30,000 square feet, 5-star complex was completed. Dr. Singa’s business has grown from 2 clients in 2015 to 28 clients in 2017, realizing 140% growth!

SBDC Business Advisor Beverly Austin remained engaged after the grand opening and further advised Dr. Singa on staffing and areas of marketing to achieve the level of growth projected. The employee count grew from 9 staff members 2015 to 26 staff members in 2017.

Dr. Sheela provides care to individuals with memory loss through the use of various therapies and activities to stimulate patients and guests to optimal functioning levels. She and husband apply their medical expertise to the many facets of their lives, family, patients, friends, employees, health, challenges and their goals. Their Assisted Living business is at the crossroad of their life-long journey of caring and healing and a fulfillment of their vision.

The business secured a $2,780,000.00 Commercial bank loan, $1,630,000.00 SBA loan, created 26 jobs and is caring for 28 clients in her Facility. The beautiful 30,000 square feet, 5-star complex located in scenic Mount Pleasant, Texas, their mission is to provide a caring environment where seniors can maintain a level of independence while their basic needs and chores are taken care of. The facility has two units: assisted living for long-term care with assistance, and a memory care unit specially designed for those with memory problems. They also offer respite care for short-term recovery.

The Lodge offers services of nurse on-site, three meals and snacks, housekeeping services, laundry, assistance with medications, assistance with bathing, grooming, transfers and incontinent care, transportation for physician appointments, salon services, Internet / Wifi / Skype and cable TV.

“Without Beverly Austin at the Northeast Small Business Development Center, I could never have achieved my dream. Beverly showed up at my office right away after my phone call. She guided me through various steps involved in starting a small business. Whenever I gave up she prodded me to go on. When all the local banks denied loans, she assured me it could be done, she helped me get in touch with the right people. Thanks to Beverly Austin and the SBDC, Mt. Pleasant has a state-of-the-art Assisted Living Facility, which so many seniors call home,” said Dr. Singa.

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