STEUBENVILLE - Whether they started their own or were lucky enough to grow with a family business, six local entrepreneurs who've found success say it's not for the faint of heart.
To make it in today's economy will require hard work, long hours and incredible resiliency, they said.
"You've got to love it, the ups and downs and the idea of putting the hours in for that business," said Glenn Zalenski of Zalenski's Family Eatery & Pub in Wintersville. "It's not 9-to-5, that's all there is to it."
LEADERS — From top left, clockwise: Mike Biasi, Carolyn Glaub, David Hindman II, Deanna Petrella, Tim Pestian and Glenn Zalenski. -- Contributed
Zalenski is one of six entrepreneurs chosen to offer insights and advice to area residents interested in learning more about starting their own business at the 2013 "Project Bootstraps" seminar.
This year's seminar will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the seminar room at Franciscan University of Steubenville's St. Joseph Center. Sponsored by Franciscan's Chapter of Students in Free Enterprise in cooperation with the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Small Business Development Center and the Herald-Star, the event will feature a give-and-take discussion between the local entrepreneurs and their audience.
Chosen to present, in addition to Zalenski, were:
- Mike Biasi, Valley Converting
- Carolyn Glaub, Center for Music & Art
- David E. Hindman II, World Radio & Communications
- Tim Pestian, Vapor Jet Cleaning & Restoration
- Deanna Petrella, Signature Hair Design
The six will discuss how they established their business as well as how they maintain, improve and continue to succeed as an organization during difficult economic times.
Biasi is president of Valley Converting, a company his father, Gino, started in 1973. Valley Converting manufacturers and converts recycled paperboard, manufacturing about 85 tons of 100 percent recycled chipboard every day.
A graduate of Steubenville High School, he earned a degree in management information systems from Ohio State University and logged a couple years at Nationwide Insurance in Columbus before returning to Steubenville 19 years ago to join his family's business.
"Find something you enjoy, then do it the best you can," he said. "Granted, when I first came back I had no idea what I was going to do, but I enjoy what we make and am proud of the product that we make."
The company has about 50 employees.
"You're going to have your ups and downs, no doubt," Biasi said. "My dad started the business in 1973 with a couple pieces of equipment and two employees. We had two machines running until the early 2000s, now we have one, but we're still making it work for 50 employees, providing a lifestyle for 50 employees. To me, it all comes down to desire - you can't sit there and think it can run itself, it involves a lot of sweat and tears ... to me, it's about desire and having the work ethic to make it successful."
Biasi and his wife, Lisa, have four kids and make their home in Steubenville He's a member of Toronto Kiwanis, Toronto Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of Jefferson County.
Glaub founded the Center for Music & Art in Weirton in 1990. She and her husband, Jody, moved the business to Wintersville five years later.
She has 30-plus years of experience teaching children and adults how to sing, play the piano, ring handbells and good theater skills for roles in private, class and church plays. She has directed and performed in numerous musicals in community theatre, high schools and churches, and played the role of Peaches the Elephant in a TV show for a few years. She also served as the voice of Peaches in a toy marketed by Chrisagis Ministries.
A nine-year recording project allows her voice to be heard in reading labs across America in the MacMillan Publishing Reading Series and the Sing and Read series. She also was vocal coach for the Sony album, "songs from the Back Seat," and soloed with Dave Brubeck in la Fiesta de la Posada with the Civic Choral Society, but her greatest passion is teaching, whether her students were gifted children and adults or had development disabilities. She's taught preschool through high school music at the School of Bright Promise for more than a decade and is a licensed Kindermusik educator.
Glaub's advice to prospective entrepreneurs: Love what you're doing.
"If you don't believe in what you're doing, it's not worth doing," Glaub said. "There has to be a real reason for doing business - it can't just be to make money. There has to be passion, a really conscious reason behind what you're doing. You have to love your job, love what you're doing. It can't be like you're going to work; if it feels like you're going to work, it's no fun."
A native of Shadyside, she and her husband have five children and five grandchildren. She's past president of the Wintersville Business Organization, past chair of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce board and immediate past president of Steubenville Rotary Club. She's on the advisory board of Franciscan University of Steubenville and is currently an elder and choir director at Starkdale Presbyterian Church.
David Hindman II
Hindman, a 1971 graduate of Steubenville High School, started his own business, World Radio Communication, in July 1991.
He'd attended Ohio University, where he studied communications, and Jefferson Community College, studying electronics, and was hired by Ohio Bell/Ameritech in 1973. Over the next 18 years he worked for them in a variety of capacities, including supply management, installation and repair, cable maintenance and splicing and in the central office.
"I learned all facets of the business," he said. "And I was trained, I took every class that AT&T offered, which prepared for where I'm at today."
After going through a difficult divorce, Hindman reconnected with his faith in 1990 "and got my life straightened around with Jesus Christ."
"Faith plays a big part in my life," he said. "That's the only reason I founded the company, it's the reason I'm here today. God had a better plan for me."
He married again, and with his new wife, Kay, started World Radio in 1991.
"I've never regretted it, never," said Hindman, a Steubenville resident. "I've never looked back."
World Radio provides telecommunications, computer networks, access control, security cameras and systems, "pretty much anything that has to do with technology." He has a satellite office in Marietta, and services customers throughout the United States.
"You have to have good 'wanna-be,' a strong drive," he said. "And you have to have faith in God. Those two things are the keys to success."
Pestian is owner and president of Vapor Jet, a professional cleaning and restoration company headquartered in Steubenville.
The company traces its roots to 1969 when his parents, Edward and Dolores Pestian, purchased the first steam carpet cleaning equipment east of the Mississippi. It was at that point that Tim, then a senior at Steubenville Catholic Central, started his business career.
The company very quickly grew to include manufacturing and worldwide sales of tuck-mounted mobile cleaning systems and the onset of Vapor Jet's fire restoration services. Today, 50 years after its founding, Vapor Jet offers many different cleaning services, including coming to the rescue of homeowners and businesses that have suffered disaster-related damages, such as fire, smoke, flood, frozen pipes, mold, crime scenes and more.
"My dad taught me, you have to service the customer," Pestian said. "Sometimes the customers are hard to serve, but they have to come first. You have to take care of them - the tougher the customer is the harder it is, but once you get them, you have them forever. The customer always comes first, the customer is always right."
Through its national affiliations, Vapor Jet consistently ranks as a top 10 emergency mitigation provider. The company recently acquired Aqua Fusion equipment for bacteria-free in-plant garment, textile and linen-cleaning services.
A member of the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning & Restoration, Pestian is a nationally certified lead renovator.
"If you feel you can do it, you need to do it," said Pestian, who with his wife of 40 years, Gina, makes his home in Toronto. "You'll never be happier than being in business for yourself. It's the only way to go. If you want to do it, you need to do it, but you'll have to be available always. It's not a part-time thing, you have to be available around the clock. I get calls at 2 in the morning, but we go."
Petrella, a Wintersville resident, started Signature Hair Design in May 2009.
She also is secretary/treasurer of Petrella Construction, which she and her husband, John, started in 1978. They also started Pinnacle Properties of Ohio, specializing in residential and commercial real estate rentals, in 1991. And she worked for the village of Wintersville for 18 years, from 1989 to 2007
Petrella graduated in 1978 from Wintersville High School, and from Clark, Gilbert & Silverthorne Academy of Cosmetology in Steubenville in 1981. She worked for a time as a stylist for the J.C. Penney Salon in Steubenville and as a loan secretary and personal banker from 1981-89 at First National Bank of Weirton.
"We don't hire anything out," she said. "We don't have a property manager, for instance. I handle that.
I take care of all our rental properties - finding tenants, getting them ready, collecting money, and John does all the repairs, the maintenance and remodeling. We do everything in house."
Petrella got her first job when she was 15, working after school in an auto parts store. It was the first of many, but the work ethic she built has held her in good stead now that she and her husband have their own businesses.
Her only regret? Waiting so long to open her hair salon.
"Don't wait," she said. "I wish I'd done it earlier. If you have an idea, a passion for it, do it sooner than later. And be ready to work extremely hard. Owning your own business is 24 hours a day, don't let anyone kid you. When you're not working, you're thinking about it."
Zalenski's first job was in the restaurant business: He started working at Elby's Big Boy in Martins Ferry in 1975 while he was still in high school. He earned his bachelor's degree in education from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 1980, working for Marriott Corp. and other restaurant chains while he took classes in marketing and food preparation. Returning to Elby's, he served as general manager for 13 years before the chain closed. He worked for another restaurant chain in the Ohio Valley before striking out on his own, operating a small diner in downtown Steubenville for a time before moving to his current location in Wintersville in November 2005.
Business has grown consistently since he started the restaurant seven years ago, which he credits to their management philosophy - to make sure guests feel they're getting more bang for their buck from Zalenski's in terms of food, service and entertainment than competitors offer. He said staffing is also critical: Hire the best people available, and make sure they have the training they need "to keep them informed and motivated."
He said owning your own business requires a certain flexibility as well.
"You have to stay one step ahead of what your customer base is looking for," he said. "With the economy the way it is and everything that's happening, you have to be flexible, take a step back, look at your surroundings and think, 'What do I need to change to keep the business that I have?'"
He said it's a moving target, particularly in the restaurant business.
"I was thinking about it the other day," he said. "When I look back at what we've achieved since we opened eight years ago, I realize how much the restaurant has changed. That deals, basically, with what my customers are looking for. If I don't meet their needs, they'll look (elsewhere)."
SIFE faculty adviser Thomas Kelly, who organized the event, said he's hoping it will inspire budding entrepreneurs "to use their talents and skills to open their own businesses and improve the lives of the citizens throughout the community."