Company News

Score Chapter Honored as Tops in Northern Ohio

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Janet Moy’s dream is to “make the Youngstown chapter of Score better.” And as the chapter president honored three entrepreneurs for achieving their dream, and two more shared their company’s successes thanks to Score volunteers, Moy’s determination was rewarded as well.

The occasion was Score’s annual “Watch Us Grow” luncheon at the Saxon Club where members learned that the organization’s Northern Ohio District – which covers Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Mansfield, Toledo and Youngstown – had just selected the Youngstown Chapter as its “Outstanding Chapter for 2017.”

“We help our clients achieve their dreams,” Moy said in announcing the chapter’s award, “and we are thrilled to be first in our district.”

Score, formerly the Service Corps of Retired Executives, is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Its 300 chapters and 10,000 volunteers nationwide provide free business coaching. The Youngstown chapter is housed in the Small Business Assistance Center at Youngstown State University, where two mentors are available every business day.

“Two men who went from dreams to entrepreneurship and were mentored by Score are here today,” Moy said as she introduced Joe Rudinec, owner of Rudinec & Associates, and Rob Palowitz, owner of Palo Creative, both based in Boardman.

“Everything starts with a dream,” began Palowitz, who founded his business 18 years ago. “You can always get diverted by people who say you can’t do it. I didn’t listen.”

In preparing his remarks for the luncheon, Palowitz said he reviewed the Score workbook he received in 1998. “All of it still applies,” he said, referring to the outline of his business plan he completed with his mentor.

At the time, Palowitz’s company specialized in direct mail and catalogs, he said. Now it’s a digital marketing agency with 13 employees.

“You’ve got to keep reinventing yourself, educating yourself,” he said.

“After 18 years, it’s still not easy.”

Rudinec told how his 30-year-old company has endured through “three incarnations.” It began as a photography studio, transitioned into a photo processor and now “looks like an online store” thanks to mentoring by Score.

In recent years, Rudinec & Associates captured a niche in making digital prints of paintings for museum gift shops and special interest artwork.

“I thought I was doing pretty good – I had been in business for 30 years and thought I had seen it all,” he said.

But it took the fresh eyes of a young employee – and Score’s Moy – to show him what he could not see. Instead of simply offering digital prints through its website, Rudinec learned how to use Facebook promotions and target demographics to sell special interest art. He cited an illustration that was targeted to Facebook users in conservative states and are men over the age of 60. “We got a huge click rate,” he said.

During the event, three women whose startups recently concluded Score’s mentoring program were honored for their success:

  • Melissa Miller is the operator of Cultivate Café, a fast-casual restaurant at 901 Elm St. in Youngstown that uses food grown by 25 area farmers to prepare its menu.
  • Ra’Cole Taltoan operates Rockbrook Business Services LLC, a tax planning, management and accounting firm at 20 W. Federal St. in Youngstown.
  • Chrissy King is the owner of Barktastic K9 Cupboard, a home-based business in Lowellville that creates all-natural treats for dogs.

This year, Moy said, more than 500 clients have received services from Score either through one-on-one mentoring or by attending one of its frequent how-to workshops.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.