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Business Beat

‘While none of it is funny, comedy…gets people to stop talking…and literally act’


Rahmein Mostafavi has been bringing headlining comedy acts to venues in Northern Virginia since 2011.

His shows at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, in Arlington, Fredericksburg, and other locations have introduced area residents to acts who have been featured on Comedy Central, HBO, and others.

We talked to Mostafavi about his recent efforts to use laughs to raise money for a serious cause — helping children in war-torn Syria.

PL: What inspired you to start the “All for Aleppo” fundraising campaign?

Mostafavi: Quite simply the horrifying images of the country and it’s suffering people. Especially the children.

PL: How much money did you raise?

Mostafavi: $11,976

PL: What was the best thing about doing this campaign?

Mostafavi: Seeing the people come out for a cause that has nothing to do with their daily lives. We can all just watch the news and even get sad, but to take the time to go out and do something, even as simple as attending a comedy show, is action.

It was truly heartwarming to see people give, $5, $10, $20, and
often much more than that to people that, at this time, need if far more than we do.

PL: What’s a big challenge you had to overcome with this endeavor?

Mostafavi: Honestly, it didn’t take much. The DC comics are very supportive and wonderful people. The minute I put the word out about these shows, I had more than enough talent to produce great shows. Our talent pool runs extremely deep in DC.

I suppose the challenge was taking time away from my kids to do these non-profit shows. They are old enough to know when daddy is gone, so they got a bit less daddy time during this run. However, it provided me a perfect opportunity to sit them down to talk
about exactly what I was trying to do.

They are smart boys. They got it and became supportive too. When I’d get home from a fundraiser, they’d ask me how much I’d raised for
the people of Syria.

PL: Where are you performing next?

Mostafavi: I’m kind of all over. Locally my next shows are my productions that I’m hosting in Leesburg, Lorton, and Fredericksburg. Details at

PL: Was it a bit awkward to use comedy as a way to raise funds for such a tragic endeavor?

Mostafavi: At first, I had those concerns as well. But it’s like any fundraiser. Whether it’s the Orlando shooting, Katrina, etc…we gather for the cause. While none of it is funny, comedy is simply the magnet that
gets people to stop talking or posting about a given situation and literally act.

PL: When did you start your business Cool Cow Comedy?

Mostafavi: About six years ago.

PL: What’s next for you and Cool Cow Comedy?

Mostafavi: More of the same I suppose.

PL: If someone wants to donate to your campaign how/where do they do that?

Mostafavi: At this point, no more fundraiser shows are scheduled. Please donate directly to whatever cause inspires you. The three I focused on where Islamic Relief, Doctors Without Borders (with Syrian focus), and Handicap International (with Syrian focus).

*This post is written by Rod Loges and Jenn Mathis, of One Degree Capital in Occoquan, in collaboration with Potomac Local.

Biggest challenge yet for new Village Ski and Bikes owner: Replacing cash register trapped in 1987

Village Ski and Bikes, a Lake Ridge staple since 1984, recently underwent new ownership. Tom Finn, a retired Marine purchased the shop in December 2016 and has big plans for Village Ski and Bikes.

ODC: Why did you buy the business?

VSB: Because I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. I’m not quite ready to retire, and, having previously owned a business I’m unemployable in the sense that I don’t want to work for someone else, so owning a business was my only option. I’ve been a customer of Village Skis and Bikes buying skis and bikes for over 17 years and when Jim told me he wanted to sell the business but hadn’t found the right person, I decided to take a look at it. I liked what I saw, and when Jim told me he wanted to continue working here part time, I just couldn’t pass it up.

ODC: Can you share with the readers a little about yourself?

VSB: My wife and I have been married for 39 years. We have two children that both graduated from Virginia Tech and two young grandchildren. I also enlisted in the Marines and eventually became an officer and finally became a Marine aviator flying the F4 – Phantom. I’ve owned another business here (Finn Autobody Inc. in Woodbridge from 1995-2006) in the area for over 11 years and I’m looking forward to serving the community again. (more…)

Horizon Business Brokers just finished their best year ever by brokering the sale of 19 local businesses. But was 2016 a fluke?

Horizon Business Brokers just finished their best year ever by brokering the sale of 19 locally owned businesses.

Horizon Business Brokers, LLC was founded in 2006 by Dustin Zeher, a longtime resident of Prince William County having grown up in Lake Ridge, where he still lives.

Horizon Business Brokers: I was introduced to the Business Brokerage Industry by my father’s childhood friend who was a Business Broker in New York and immediately became interested as I always had a passion for small business ownership, law, real estate, finance, and helping people; business brokerage was an industry that allowed me to play a role in each.

I decided to get my feet wet and see if I liked the business, so I became an Associate Business Broker for a Maryland-based firm. I worked with them for about a year where I quickly realized I enjoyed the business and had the promise to be a good deal maker.

I soon took the leap of faith to go into business for myself and Horizon Business Brokers was born soon after that.

Potomac Local: Do Businesses in our area sell?

Horizon Business Brokers: Absolutely, and they sell fast. The national average time to sell a business is 8 to 12 months. Our average is only 5-7 months, and we have sold businesses in as little as 30 days.

PL: What kind of businesses sell? (more…)

Dog search for Iraq War vet leads to animal training business

“My youngest daughter was deployed to Iraq, and when she came home, she was a different person.”

Thanks to Caring Angels, “JJ” was rescued from a local animal shelter and received the training he needed to begin his new life as a therapeutic support dog.

Caring Angels is the nonprofit arm of “Sit Means Sit” of Northern Virginia, a woman-owned franchise in Manassas. We sat down with owner Sonny Madsen recently to find out more about her business and her nonprofit.

PL: Tell us about your involvement with Caring Angels

Sit Means Sit: Caring Angel therapy dogs have all come through the Sit Means Sit training program. We have dogs that have helped with the victims of human trafficking, juvenile detention centers, fire departments, reading programs for children, nursing homes, FBI, funerals, teaching dog safety, assisting with college students going through test anxiety, returning soldiers, children with special needs and so much more.

PL: Why did you decide to start this endeavor?

Sit Means Sit: Before starting my business, I was a public speaker and sales manager. My youngest daughter was deployed to Iraq, and when she came home, she was a different person.

I hardly recognized her and had trouble connecting with her. One day on a trip to Arlington Cemetery we saw a soldier with a service dog – a beautiful white golden retriever. My daughter’s eyes lit up for the first time since coming home. I decided then and there to get her a service dog.

Turns out that is a lot easier said than done. I learned support dogs are extremely expensive and the whole process can take years. My daughter didn’t have years to wait – I knew she needed a support dog right now. So I decided I would find and train one for her myself.

PL: What attracted you to the Sit Means Sit (SMS) program over other options?

SMS: I did a lot of research including interviewing law enforcement for their training suggestions (since they train so many great dogs). The Las Vegas Sheriff’s Department referred me to the founder of Sit Means Sit, Fred Hassen.

The first time I met Fred he gave me a quarter and told me to throw it in the middle of his 5,000 square foot training room. He then explained that he would be able to get a small black labrador retriever to sit on that quarter in four attempts without moving himself.

Intrigued, I threw the quarter toward the middle of the room. Amazingly he had that dog happily sitting on the quarter in just two attempts without ever having to walk over to where I threw the quarter. I was impressed. I asked him how he did it and that was the first time he showed me the e-collar.

PL: What is unique about the SMS style of training?

SMS: We are e-collar trainers. The e-collar is a neutral training tool to teach focus, obedience, and trust. If you do it the right way, you have a happy dog who loves you more than treats or toys or anything else.

We have been able to work with puppies, anxious dogs abused and neglected dogs, dogs that are deaf, aggressive dogs and dogs that just plain have bad manners.

PL: What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far, and how did you overcome it?

SMS: SMS: Overcoming the negative stigma of e-collar training. I’m the first one to agree that the old-fashioned way of e-collar training was harsh and punitive. That is definitely not the way we use a collar. Our e-collars do not cause pain – they function as an adjustable ‘tap’ which is used as a cue to get the dog’s attention. The ‘tap’ is similar to muscle therapy devices found in the medical field for humans. When we bring on a new client, we always have them try out the device on their hand so they can feel the tap for themselves. With 64 sensitivity settings, the collars are fully adjustable to the smallest and the largest of breeds.

PL: What’s next – where do you dream of taking your business?

SMS: Sit Means Sit is the largest dog training program in the country, and our Northern Virginia franchise is their fastest growing location in the U.S. We want to keep that momentum and keep educating our clients.

Of course, my heart lies with the Caring Angels program and with the service dogs that we train – it’s the whole reason I got into the dog training business, to begin with, and I never want to forget that. Therapy dogs make a difference in ways we may never fully understand – I can only describe it as God’s grace. Right now, given our limited resources, we can only place a few dogs a year through the program. My goal is to one day build a facility where we can continue to train, house and donate ten service dogs a year.

The facts: 

Sit Means Sit 9823 Godwin Dr Manassas, Va
Caring Angels Therapy Dogs:

*This post is written by Rod Loges and Jenn Mathis, of One Degree Capital in Occoquan, in collaboration with Potomac Local.

Manassas theater owner goes ‘rogue,’ builds a community movie house

MANASSAS, Va. — The world of Star Wars is about to go “rogue” and branch off into a series of movies never seen before, with a new story that involves few of the original main characters of the 30-year-old sci-fi series.

For Kiran “Bunny” Khorana, owner of the Manassas 4 Cinemas on Mathis Avenue, he’s also going rogue with a departure from the ‘big box” chain movie houses he competes against for first-run showings of movies like “Star Wars: Rogue One” due in theaters December 16.

“It’s easy,” explains Khorana, “I listen to our customers and provide unique services and value that they can’t get by watching a movie at home or a big cinema.”

Manassas 4 Cinemas is a family-friendly cinema, providing first run movies most days for $7.50, or $10 per ticket after 4 p.m. Tickets on Tuesday and Wednesdays are $5 all day, about half the price of the big cinemas.

One of the most popular theater rooms at Manassas 4 Cinemas is the Cafe Cinema. Outfitted with couches, recliners, and other comfortable seats, this theater allows you to enjoy a first run movie while sipping on a beer or glass of wine along with foods like pizza and hamburgers.

It is a great example of the “cinema and draft house” trend that is increasing in popularity around the country. This specific theater is available for private rental and a great place to host holiday events, birthday parties, and corporate events.

Being an independent theater gives Khorana flexibility to have a voice. When most major cinemas were reluctant to show the 2014 comedy, “The Interview,” which poked fun at the reclusive leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un, Khorana was one of a handful of independent moviehouse owners who chose to screen the movie.

Competing against the big cinemas isn’t easy, but Khorana has diligently worked to make his business success. After selling another movie house, Khorana opened Manassas 4 Cinemas in May 2011 with a first-run showing of Pirates of the Caribbean. With a lot of hard work, Khorana grew his small operation to $1.2 million in his first year.

Despite recovering from recent quadruple bypass surgery, you can often find Khorana greeting customers in the lobby. He wants to hear what his customers want, and he wants to be close by to help them get it.

Khorana expanded his customer base in Manassas and Manassas Park by providing big screen showings of international soccer and rugby matches, along with movies from other countries.

Manassas 4 Cinemas is located at 8890 Mathis Avenue in Manassas. The movie house lists showtimes on its website.

The Facts: 

Manassas 4 Cinemas
8890 Mathis Avenue
Manassas, Va. 20110
Owner: Kiran (Bunny) Khorana

*This post is written by Rod Loges and Jenn Mathis, of One Degree Capital in Occoquan, in collaboration with Potomac Local.

Founded in Stafford, Ricks Roasters ready for growth

STAFFORD, Va. — The founders of Ricks Roasters will take the lessons learned in Stafford and use them as the company aims to expand into the Northeast.

“Our strategic vision from the beginning has been the replication of the model we’ve built in Stafford. We are a local coffee roaster providing an outstanding product while being integrated into the community. When opportunities to repeat that model present themselves, we will pursue them aggressively. We are currently pursuing such opportunities in Martinsburg, W. Va., New York City, and Jonestown, Pa,” stated Sean Ricks, a company co-founder, in email.

Their coffee can now be found at various locations in Fredericksburg, Stafford, and at the Virginia Railway Express station in Quantico. Ricks boasts 80 company partners that work with the roster including the Great Harvest Bread Company in Lorton and Agora coffee shop in Downtown Fredericksburg.

While the company roasts its special blend of coffees for smaller shops and restaurants, Ricks says their future lies in roasting large quantities of coffee beans.

“Though we have a coffee shop at the VRE station, our primary path to market is wholesale. We’ve been very successful at customizing coffees for businesses, often paired with their menus. We not only have custom blends for coffee shops and restaurants, but also mortgage brokers, realtors, and gyms. We see all of our customers as partners and do everything we can to help them grow,” stated Ricks.

The business started after a husband and wife couple began searching for something they could do togehter.

“In May 2013, Keely and I were searching for a business we would be passionate about and could work on together. We loved coffee and decided we’d pursue a coffee I used to drink in Indonesia while serving in the Navy. The day after we settled on coffee, my motorcycle broke down on the way to my job at the Pentagon. After making the necessary repairs, we went to Tim’s Rivershore for lunch where Ricks Roasters was sketched out on a napkin. What began as a little “side” business for us has taken off into an exciting small business employing several veterans and veteran dependents.

Growing the business has presented challenges along the way as the coffee couple kept their full-time jobs.

“I am still on active duty in the Navy, and Keely is a social worker by trade. From the beginning, we knew our full-time jobs would preclude our ability to run this business all on our own. We’ve had to hire more people than we would have had to had we been able to work full time.

Bringing on staff and the nature of getting roasted product in the bag have made our labor costs track linearly with our sales numbers. As always, limited cash flow has throttled our growth and made decoupling the sales and labor numbers challenging.”

As the company grew, Ricks says he’s learned a thing or two about shipping and inventory costs. Raw coffee is heavy when shipped, so Ricks Roasters had to find a way to cut down on the weight it shipped to keep costs under control.

“Our raw product is very heavy so early-on we did our best to maximize the amount of product we would bring in per shipment. While this did help keep the cost per pound in freight down, it had a major impact on cash flow. Ultimately, we found the sweet spot in shipment size that saved the most amount of money per pound while not presenting very large inventory purchase bills.”

The Facts
Start Date: May 2013
Owners Names: Sean & Keely Ricks
Roastery: 1304 Interstate Business Park, Fredericksburg, VA 22405 (Stafford County)
Retail Location: 550 Railroad Ave, Quantico, VA 22134
Phone number: 540-318-6850

*This post is written by Rod Loges and Jenn Mathis, of One Degree Capital in Occoquan, in collaboration with Potomac Local.

New scholarship award focuses on youth and small business owners

OCCOQUAN, Va.  — The John Mathis Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, named after the father of One Degree Capital co-founder Jenn Mathis, is now accepting applications for its inaugural 2016-17 academic year scholarship award.

“Daddy continues to be an enormous inspiration to my growth as a business owner,” explains Jenn. “He constantly inspires, encourages and mentors me on business ownership and leadership. I would not be where I am today without him.”

Jenn and her business partner, Rod Loges, routinely seek ways to give back to the communities in which their business serves, including donating goods, services and time as well as mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs of all ages.

“When Rod and I discussed starting a scholarship,” Jenn continues, “we knew we wanted to create something that encouraged today’s entrepreneurial youth. Small business owners employ over half the nation’s workforce. Here at One Degree Capital we do everything we can to encourage growth in this critical segment of our society.”

The application process opens on November 1 – John Mathis’ birthday – and continues through the end of the year. Semi-finalists are notified in February with final selection made on March 13 (the anniversary date of One Degree Capital’s founding). The scholarship award is open to high school seniors who either work for a small business owner or who currently own their own small business. For more details, visit

About The John Mathis Entrepreneurial Spirit Award
High school seniors who are either employed by a small business or who own their own small business are eligible to apply. The non-renewable $2,000 scholarship award can be applied toward tuition and fees of a postsecondary school. For full details and to apply for the scholarship award, visit

About One Degree Capital
One Degree Capital is a privately funded direct lender to small business owners nationwide. Established in 2010, One Degree Capital has helped thousands of business owners start, sustain and grow their businesses by helping them find the right type of business loan for their unique needs. One Degree Capital offers a full suite of small business financing including business loans, working capital, equipment financing, SBA-backed loans, factoring and more. For more information, contact Jenn Mathis at 1.703-579-6868.

What’s the secret to Bottle Stop Wine Bar’s success in Occoquan?

My kids have always been entrepreneurs-in-training.

Case in point: one sunny spring day in 2007, my daughters decided to set up a lemonade stand in the front yard. Well, after about an hour, my youngest daughter, Olivia, came running into the house screaming at the top of her lungs in that ridiculously high pitch that only a 6-year-old can make.

“Daddy! Daddy! Daaaaaaddy!” she yelled. “I NEED COFFEE NOW!!!!” For a brief moment I became concerned that my daughter was taking this work-thing a bit too seriously and already had the coffee-break jitters.

Then I noticed the dollar bill in her hand.

“What’s that?” I asked.

Nearly breathless, Olivia explained, “This man came by and ordered coffee and paid me a dollar.”

“Olivia, you have a lemonade stand,” I reasoned (big mistake – never try to reason with a six year old).

Olivia put her hands on her hips and rolled her eyes at her slow-to-catch-on dad, “But DADDY, coffee is what he WANTED!”

We hurriedly made the nice man a cup of coffee, and my daughters sold a few glasses of lemonade that day.

The following Saturday morning my kids decided to ditch the lemonade and set up a coffee and donut stand instead. It worked! They made roughly $150 which they donated to a local homeless shelter.

Olivia learned a valuable business lesson – listen and learn from your customers if you want to grow.

Emil and Kim Wigode, owners of Bottle Stop Wine Bar in Occoquan

Kim and Emil Wigode, owners of Bottle Stop Wine Bar in Occoquan have taken this same approach to listening and learning to their customers over the past five years. It has been amazing to watch them make incremental improvements to their business fueled by input from their customer base.

Originally called Olde Dominion Wine Shoppe, the Wigodes sold wine made in Virginia from a small storefront. Business was good, but their growing customer base asked them to expand their selection to include non-Virginia wines.

They did, and business continued to grow so much that they needed to move into a larger space… and they haven’t stopped listening and learning from their customers since then.

The larger space allowed them to build a small commercial kitchen and offer wines by the glass. The Wine Bar concept led to demand from customers for more on-site seating, and additional food options to pair with their wine had them looking to grow further.

They expanded a second time while reducing their retail area to allow guests to enjoy creative small-plate dishes to pair with their wine (their Devilish Duo deviled eggs are amazing).

The wine by the glass program was such a hit that they expanded to offer craft beer, craft whiskey, and scotch as well.

Their newest addition is in answer to customers who would love a glass of a higher-end wine without having to purchase the whole bottle. Their state-of-the-art Wine Preservation System allows bottled wine to be kept fresh so customers may enjoy an even larger selection of wines by-the-glass.

From great business owners like Kim and Emil to budding entrepreneurs like my daughter Olivia, listening and learning to what customers want is a vital key to success for no matter what your business size.

Know a local business that does a great job listening and learning from their customers? Introduce us and I’d love to feature a story about them!

“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

A corporate promotion or beer? Growling Bear chose beer

Ask anyone who works with me on a regular basis and they’ll be the first to tell you – I’m not a detail guy.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned from my first college business was that details matter (a painful lesson).

This was probably why, as I grew out of my first keg delivery business and looked for the next business opportunity, opening my own craft brewery never made my list. Ingredients, mixtures, exacting recipes… I’ll leave that to the experts.

With over 100 breweries and growing, the craft beer industry is alive and well in Virginia. One of the newest breweries is right here in our Potomac Local region: Growling Bear Brewery.

Growling Bear Brewery is a veteran and woman owned microbrewery owned by Mike and Corinne Bliven. Their 2BBL German Brewhouse helps them serve up 10-12 beers on tap year round.

Their beers is made from whole grains with an emphasis on organic all-natural ingredients sourced from the part of the world where the beer is native whenever possible.

As a former Air Force NCO, Mike knows a thing or two about the importance of details, and he has the skills to match. Mike hand-made a lot of the furniture and even the bar itself. Quite impressive stuff!

Even the serving tray for the tasters is in the shape of a bear claw cut from steel and made to exacting standards (just don’t drop it on your foot).

I sat down with Mike and asked him about his experience starting his craft brewery:


Rod: Why did you start your business?

Mike: Our love for craft beer started in 1997 when we were first introduced to a splendid Irish Red Ale brewed at the Original Saratoga Brewpub in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

We had such a great experience there that I began reading and inquiring about home brewing in my spare time. For Christmas that year, I got my first home brew kit. Then we started planning vacations around breweries: Boston to tour Sam Adams Brewery, even Belgium to venture into the farm ales and wits. Our taste kept evolving as more options became available and our passion for beers deepened.

In December of 2013 my corporate career came to a crossroads forcing me to make a choice: take a promotion with more responsibility or go make beer. By then my abilities, knowledge and skills in brewing were well rounded, so we decided to take a chance and start the planning phase of Growling Bear Brewery.


Rod: Why did you name it Growling Bear Brewery?

Mike: Growling Bear is the nickname some people use for me.


Rod: What do you love most about your business?

Mike: Meeting all kinds of people, young and old, and providing them with a great beer in a great atmosphere. I love building that sense of community that makes craft breweries so unique.


Rod: What is key to your success?

Mike: We never cut corners. Every step is important. And we use ingredients that are native to each type of beer.


Rod: What’s a challenge you’ve had to overcome?

Mike: Working with the [ATF] to get all the right permits was a bit of a challenge.

Fortunately, we have a great landlord who was very supportive and understanding during the process.


Rod: What is a piece of advice you’d like to share with other potential business owners?

Mike: Start a business that you are passionate about and stay true to yourself and your art!

Growling Bear Brewery is located at 14051 Crown Court in Woodbridge.

“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

Trust me. You want to be a failure first

It’s fun to see a group of small business owners form a group, grow, and learn together.

These folks wear multiple hats, juggle multiple tasks, work with multiple people, many times across multiple platforms.

There is little if anything small about the “small” business owner. At One Degree Captial, we refer to them as “significant” business owners, because, to them, the decisions they make and actions they often take involve a high level of risk or giant leap of faith.

A group of significant business owners came together, as they do each Wednesday morning, to talk about their challenges. The group, 1 Million Cups Prince William, celebrated its 2-year anniversary of helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

The topic of the milestone meeting was one few like to discuss: Failure. Sure, we all read, and watch success stories on TV. Everybody loves a winner.

The fact is, all winners failed before they won. In many ways, success is how we deal the with failure, what we learn from it, and how we move on.

Many say we live in the “information age,” or the “computer age.”

Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, recently told his team members “adapt or else.”. We often hear that we live in the “information age” or “big data” is here today. It might be better said that we are in the “Learning Age.”

It’s important that we learn to try and fail, but never fail to try.

It’s also important that we learn to fail, and fast. Time is a precious commodity, and it’s heartbreaking to know you kept a project or a relationship going beyond the point of no return. The time lost, well, it is just that.

To avoid this, start simple and map out where you want your business to go. What are your goals? Identify whose lives you can make better if they use your product or service. Start small and be specific.

The people in which you surround yourself must support what you do. They are your support system.

It’s been said you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

Surround yourself with learners and builders, and establish a relationship with a mentor or board of advisors. They will be there when needed to help us understand when we should pull the plug on a project, or pivot to move in another direction.

Bruce Waldack, president of digitalNATION, always had some small products and projects in the works. Some of them worked, some of them didn’t.

The important thing is to get up and try. It’s no secret the theme song for entrepreneurs should be Chumbawumba’s Tubthumping. You know the one: “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You are never gonna keep me down.”

“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

1 wrong letter cost $2,000, ruined a friendship

“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

As I mentioned in my last article, my keg delivery business taught me the value of being diversified.

My very determined competitors helped me learn that one (did they really have to flatten all FOUR tires?)

By my second year in business, I had added custom-printed shirts to my service offering. That addition helped me learn another valuable business lesson: the importance of details. A very expensive lesson as it turned out.

College campuses back in the 80s – as now – had a lot of parties.

Back then, custom shirts were not as readily available as they are today. There was no Internet to order from, and FedEx was in its infancy. (more…)

Threats, slashed tires challenges for beer keg delivery service

“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

When I tell people about One Degree Capital, I often hear things like “Oh, I’d love to start my own business doing ‘XYZ’ someday.”

To the outsider, it often looks easy to own a business. The reality is that business owners face challenges and surprises all the time. It takes a lot of perseverance to overcome them and be successful.

My lessons in perseverance came to me early in life. I started my first business as a sophomore at Miami University, where I discovered an opportunity to help solve a disturbing problem in the community.

The two-lane, windy highway between small-town Oxford, Ohio (home of Miami of Ohio – go Hawks!), and the nearby City of Hamilton had been nicknamed “The Highway To Heaven” because so many college students died traveling that road. Students regularly drove to Hamilton to pick up kegs of beer for parties from local distributors. Sadly, many drove under the influence, which added to the trouble. (more…)

Pies and wine so good, Mom’s has a great business plan

“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

There is a perfectly logical reason for the location of Mom’s Apple Pie Bakery and Wine Shop in Occoquan: It is the first place you will want to visit when you pull into town, and also before heading back out of town.

Yep, Mom’s is that good.

Of course, Mom’s bakes some fantastic pies (second only to my own mom, of course… hi, Mom!) Strawberry, Pumpkin, Rhubarb, Apple and many other flavors are made to very exacting high quality standards under the supervision of store employees like Sharon Cardinale, who has been at Mom’s for over 11 years.

Not to be outdone, Mom’s also has a top-notch Wine Shop staffed by Certified Sommelier, Keith Bevins. It turns out Keith loves craft beer almost as much as he loves wine, which makes for a pretty darn good selection that’s sure to please everyone.

And if that weren’t enough, Mom’s also serves as a general store of sorts for the town of Occoquan, where residents can find everything from milk and butter to household cleaners and even bait and lures. (more…)

Your business should be creative & unique, something no ‘big box’ store can do

“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

In today’s “big box” retail world how do small business owners stand out and compete?

One way is by building their own community of champions and collaborators.

All around us are great examples of how small business owners have created their own community (or One Degree World, as we call it around here).

One of my favorite examples comes from a small cafe alongside the deceptively calm Upper Youghiogheny River. (more…)

Local beans, great atmosphere key to Manassas coffee shop success

“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

groundscentralstationPssst, slow down. Take a moment and smell the coffee… or the tea or even the great breakfast sandwiches made by Matt Brower and his team at Grounds Central Station in Downtown Manassas.

Go there for the coffee, go back again and again for the great people and experiences.

I originally found GCS in March 2015 while in Manassas on business. I had time between meetings and wanted a great cup of coffee and an equally good experience. Not being too familiar with Manassas I turned to Yelp for guidance and boom – I found GCS (with a 4.5 star Yelp rating to boot).

Over the past year, I have been back to GCS, oh, a couple of times! I have gotten to know Matt and his merry band of baristas pretty well.

One thing Matt serves – above and beyond a great Americano – is “community.” (more…)

Find people you know, trust who have your success in mind

“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

Building a Business is a Team Effort — With a Little Help From Our Friends

My first lesson in the value of mentors came early – and hard. On July 3rd, 1985, I was enduring the first grueling week (called “Ground Week”) of the U.S. Army Airborne School. My Student ID – printed boldly across my helmet – was 141 (yes, 30 years later I remember my Student Number).

No matter the reason, I was a “NO GO” and did not qualify to advance to the second week (Tower Week) of training. The choice was mine – give up or repeat Ground Week.

Ugh! I wanted to quit, to give up, go back home and drink some beer with my friends and work so I could actually afford my next year of college expenses. Worse yet, if I decided to repeat Ground Week my Student ID label on my helmet would become 141”G” and everyone would know that I was “recycled.”

One of my Airborne Drill Instructors (we called them “Black Hats” ( I’ll leave you to guess why) came over and said to me) “Cadet, I know you are thinking about quitting. Heck I would be thinking it too if I were you.”  (more…)

How knowing ‘Why’ led website developer WIX to $1 billion

“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

Five, four, three, two, one… Happy New Year! Well, almost! The New Year is a great time to evaluate our business goals and make sure we know the answer to the question, “Why do we do what we do?”

Here is a great example: Avi, a business associate I met in 1999, said to me at the time, “Rod, I want to make it easy and affordable for business owners to build and manage websites.”

In 1999 that was easier said than done. But Avi and a few of his associates started a company that set out to do just that. While his company attracted millions in venture funding, they never gained a critical mass and eventually sold to a competitor.

Flash forward several years later to a phone call I received from Avi who proudly claimed, “Rod, I have finally found a way to make it easy and affordable for business owners to build and manage websites.”

Now, those who know me know that I am a bit of a tech snob. I remember looking at the phone thinking, “WOW, that is a big claim to make!”

Sure enough, Avi’s tenacity paid off. Today his company, WIX, trades on NASDAQ and has a value of just under $1 billion – that’s right – just under $1 billion.

One Degree Capital is a customer of, and we love it.

Across three businesses and over 16 years, Avi always knew his “Why” and stuck to it. As quoted from the company’s website, Wix’s vision is “We make it easy for everyone to create a beautiful, professional web presence.”

A common thread that runs through most successful companies is that they know their WHY – the main reason they do what they do. They know and stay committed to their “Why.”

So here is a question for you: As a business owner do you know your “Why?” If you need some help, ask yourself the following questions:

— Why? Why does your business exist? Are you passionate about this?

— Who? Do you enjoy working with your target audience?

— How? Do you serve your customers in a unique and valuable way?

If you are interested in learning more about how to build your “why” here are several great resources:

Simon Sinek, internationally acclaimed author of “Start with Why,” has a powerful TED Talk that is sure to inspire you to action.

Jeff Parks, a Prince William County-based seasoned consultant and a Coast Guard veteran, says “Live your passion, give your gift.” Jeff has helped over 200 organizations define their purpose and build “High-Performance Organizations.”

Margie Warrell wrote this incredible article “Know Your Why – 4 Questions to Tap the Power of Purpose.” Also, she has written three books on Leadership, Life, Courage and Purpose.

Sharon Dilling, owner of Fairfax-based Ability Potentials helps people identify their unique skills, energies, and passions. It works! I took Sharon’s assessment test years ago, and it said I should be the general manager of a commercial finance company. She was right!

As the owner of One Degree Capital for the past six years, I can tell you that I LOVE working with my third hero: The American Small Business Owner. Sharon’s test was so helpful that I have paid for a number of people to take it.

The people who are open and willing to explore the suggested career paths have told me they later that they have truly found their “life’s work.”

What is your “Why?” If you know of any locally owned businesses that have a strong “Why” please share them in the comments section – I would love to learn more about the amazing business owners in our local area.

Sharing is caring: How businesses can give back to charities

“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

One day not long ago a Dad was getting his daughters ready for school, and he couldn’t figure out why the lunch foods were almost gone. It was only halfway through the week and already they were low on lunch meat.

The next morning he found his daughter making two lunches. When asked what she was doing, she shared that another student’s mom was very ill, and her dad was usually too tired and too busy to make lunch. So this little seven-year-old took it upon herself to start bringing this other student lunch every day. That little seven-year-old girl was my daughter, Olivia, now 14.

It is amazing how much we can learn from our kids and their wonderful hearts full of willingness to share (as long as it is not with their siblings). Sharing really is caring.

Prince William County is home to a number of caring businesses that share their success with a variety of dedicated not-for-profit organizations.

Here at One Degree Capital, we donate roughly 2% of our annual profits to charitable causes throughout the year. In the past, the charities were chosen either by me (usually from seeing a need in the community) or by a charity approaching us for corporate sponsorship of an event.

Both ways have been great, but as I am all about “One Degree Relationships” I started to wonder what charities our team members would choose. So at a recent team meeting, I announced a new charitable program where our team members get to decide which charity we support monthly.

I asked the group, “So, team, where should we start? What are your ‘One Degree Communities?’”

Our team member Caitlin Hughes was excited to offer the first suggestion.

“As a survivor of Aplastic Anemia myself, it would mean a lot to me if One Degree Capital would support The Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation, “ explained Caitlin. “The Foundation makes it possible to bring awareness and education to local communities regarding bone marrow failure, and donations help support continual research of these diseases. The Foundation’s efforts really helped me through a tough time in my life.”

We all agreed that was the perfect place to start!

I encourage other business owners to find unique and valuable ways to give back to our community throughout the year. A great resource regarding local charitable organizations who need our support is Volunteer Prince William.

Here are a few great nonprofits here in Prince William County:

The Streetlight serves the poor and the homeless.

ACTS – Action in Community Through Service of Prince William, Inc. operates a food pantry and other services (ACTS) 

Prince William SPCA (my daughter’s favorite charity) helps homeless animals.

Sharing is indeed caring. What are some other ideas on how businesses can give back to their own “One Degree Community?”

Please share your insights and success stories in the comments section so we can all learn and find new ways to give back to our community.