Aug 21, 2014

Safely Setting the Course in the Hill District

Client: Barbara Strothers
Address: Grace Security LLC
               621 Crawford St.
               Pittsburgh, PA

County: Allegheny

Industry: Security Firm

Year Founded: 2012

SBDC Assistance: Training and consulting on start-up, legal, financial, marketing, human resources, business plan

Barbara Strothers has been in the private security business for 14 years. While working as a security guard she dreamed that one day she would have her own firm. Years passed but she could not do it. Her lack of knowledge on how to start her business, how to manage a business, and how to steer her company to success were a big deterrent to accomplish her dream.

However, in July 2012 she attended training in the Hill District provided by Duquesne University SBDC.

"Starting a business and learning too many aspects of it has been chanllenging but rewarding... I could not have done it without the training and consulting provided by my Duquesne SBDC consultant."
-Barbara Strothers, CEO


At the SBDC, she learned the legal, accounting, financial, human resources, marketing, and management aspect of owning a business. The training was an eye-opener, and was precisely what she needed to start her business. Barbara decided she needed further assistance, and with the help of Gonzalo Manchego, an SBDC consultant, discussed further her needs and completed a sound business plan, which she submitted to a business plan grant competition organized by Urban Innovation 21. Just a few of the participants were awarded seed money for their business but Barbara won $5,000 in the competition (the second largest amount of money awarded in the competition). Barbara knew that the combination of proper assistance and seed money just received were the perfect combination she needed to succeed.

Relying on the Duquesne SBDC consulting assistance, she geared her company to success. One year after she and a business partner incorporated Grace Security LLC, her security company has signed two major contracts to provide security services to companies and buildings in the Hill District. Through the year, her company has hired 9 employees, 7 of them full-time, and she is looking to hire more soon.

"Starting a business and learning too many aspects of it has been challenging but rewarding," she said. A network of support that includes Duquesne University, the Hill District Credit Union, Urban Innovation 21, Bridgeway Capital, among many other organizations and individuals helps immensely but success comes along with an owners' determination, diligence and desire to learn.

Reflecting on what has happened in this year, Barbara sees the positive impact of her business success in the Hill District. "People approach me while I am walking on the street to congratulate me. They make me know how proud they are of having one of their own leading the path to a new, brighter and safer and future in the Hill. They also notice how unusual but rewarding it is to see a woman being the CEO of a security firm."

Without a doubt, Barbara's success has broken many paradigms, and expectations are high over the future of her firm. "Don't worry," she says, "with the proper support of my network I will rise to the challenge."

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