After 29 years of commuting into New York City and working long hours as a chef, Tim Smeltz was ready for a change. Inspiration came when he couldn’t find a local company to sealcoat his driveway. After investigating, Smeltz purchased an American Asphalt Sealcoating franchise in 2006. Although new to self-employment, he knew he needed a business plan and contacted the RVCC SBDC. Counselors Vicki Lynne Morgan and Karen Katcher helped him develop one, and counselor Bob Bilarczyk helped with his certification as a NJ Small Business Enterprise (SBE).
Because sealcoating is a seasonal business, Smeltz quickly encountered a critical challenge: retaining valued employees during the off season. His innovative solution? He bought a residential decorating business franchise, Christmas Décor, in 2007 to provide employment year-round. Smeltz has successfully expanded his Christmas Décor’s Somerset County territory to include Hunterdon and Morris Counties in New Jersey and Bucks County in Pennsylvania.
In 2009, another opportunity presented itself when a prospective sealcoating client who owned a daycare center specified that as a suspected carcinogenic, sealcoating on his property must not contain coal tar. Smeltz knew this was a growing concern. He decided to break from his franchise and venture off on his own to find a better, safer product. It was a big decision, so he met with RVCC SBDC Regional Director Bill Harnden several times to discuss his options. During this period Smeltz discovered a company using an innovative sealcoating mixture, bought exclusive rights to the product, and further developed it to meet his needs. With a new formula, solid infrastructure and seasoned employees, he was ready to create his new business–and the Great American Sealcoating Company was born. In 2017, Smeltz returned to the SBDC at RVCC for talks with Bill Harnden about financing options for expansion into New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania. As a result, they are meeting with several SBA lenders to develop a loan package to address his needs.
With his aspirational attitude, innovative problem-solving approach and willingness to venture into new areas, coupled with the counseling services of the SBDC, Tim Smeltz has grown from a single, three-man local operation with sales of $200,000 to a dual-business, multi-state enterprise with eleven employees and sales of over $1 million. Of the support he has received over the years from the SBDC at RVCC, Smeltz says, “It is exceptionally nice to have a resource that can help me grow and act as a sounding board when making important business decisions.” With firm plans in place for improving, growing and innovating, Smeltz is paving the way for continued business success — and the SBDC at RVCC looks forward to assisting him in reaching his goals.