10:46 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

CNY Veterans Share Their Business Experiences at SBA Conference

Onondaga Community College was the place to be Thursday for veterans  hoping to develop their entrepreneurial knowledge.  The college hosted the Small Business Administration's 7th annual “Operation: Start Up & Grow” conference for veterans and other members of the military looking to start or expand their own businesses. 

Lee Buttolph chats with attendees at the SBA's Start up and Grow conference.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
 Keynote speaker and Marine Corps veteran Lee Buttolph ended up buying his family’s lumber company in 2010.  He says resources from the SBA and his military experience in Iraq prepared him for this new battle.  
Owner of Buttolph Lumber Lee Buttolph says the transition to running a business wasn't too rough, but knew he had a lot to learn.

Lee is now the third-generation owner of Buttolph Lumber Company based in Phoenix, New York.  Mike Otis is a Desert Storm veteran who also knows a few things about adapting.  

Owner of Media One Communications Mike Otis talks with conference attendees at OCC.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

 He began Media One Communications after spending 22 years with Syracuse's 174th Fighter Wing, and some time in radio and TV.  He agrees that the military provided him with some of the skills and determination to succeed in business.   

Mike Otis acknowledges starting his own business wasn't easy, especially since there weren't as many resources then as there are now.

The SBA's Veteran-Owned Business Award this year went to Bo Singh.  He bought credit risk management company T. Gschwender and Associates in 2008 several years after retiring from the Air Force. 

Bo Singh and his wife Helen make their rounds at the SBA conference.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

 He says that’s where he learned critical leadership qualities, people skills, and banking expertise.  

T. Gschwender and Associates President Bo Singh says owning his own business is the latest step in a career he calls "a great journey" that began in the Air Force.

 Singh says the SBA has been there every step of the way, guaranteeing loans to buy and run the business.     More information about veteran and other business support is at sba.gov.