Featured Entrepreneur – Cathy Gilbert and Charles Makemson; Arrow Document Imaging
This time we’re taking a look at a business that got its start with a boost from the Community Action Development Corporation of Bethlehem (CADCB) through their free Start Your Business classes. Brother-sister team Charles Makemsom and Cathy Gilbert decided it was the right time to look into the idea of starting a business when the company Charles had been working for went out of business and Cathy wanted to return to the workforce after years of raising a family.
Cathy and Charles signed up for the Start Your Business class at CADCB where they completed the class and wrote the required business plan. Because Cathy had been an administrative assistant for Fortune 500 companies, and Charles had managed operations in printing and copying businesses for many years, they felt they were skilled and well prepared to develop an imaging business.
After completing the Start Your Business class, Cathy and Charles reviewed their projected start-up costs and three-year financial projections. When the CADCB business development coordinator pointed out that the equity in their existing real estate could finance their start-up, they became more serious about the proposed business. Cathy emphasized, “Until that moment we really had no belief that we would start a business.” Exploring the idea further, they began to search for office space, which they found at 1509 Easton Avenue in Bethlehem. They opened Arrow Document Imaging, LLC in April of 2005 to provide professional scanning and copying to legal and medical firms.
CADCB staff has continued to provide technical assistance to Cathy and Charles. In addition to providing advice for advertising, marketing, profitability and overall business functions, staff helped them to promote their new business in the community. One of their first clients was Las Vegas Sands, who used them to print thousands of invitations to a local event. CADCB’s referral of customers immediately after start-up helped them to meet cash flow projections. Arrow made their first profit after 13 months in business, and they continue to grow.
Since 2007, Arrow has had much involvement with CADCB. Our staff reviewed their plans to obtain a new commercial copier. They eventually leased a copier that reduces the “per click” cost of the expanding color copy business while producing more true color reproduction. Second, CADCB staff assisted Cathy Gilbert in successfully completing an application for and registering as a “PA-certified woman-owned business.” Arrow expanded services this year to include an in-house graphic designer, who was also a former CADCB Start Your Business student. At the end of the year, Cathy and Charles were thrilled to notify CADCB staff that they had exceeded their second year projected net profit percentage by 20%.
“In the last 6 years our relationship with CADCB has grown and now we help new businesses get started by assisting them with logo design, business cards and stationery needs.”
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1509 Easton Avenue
Bethlehem, PA 18017