AJ’s Heavenly Pizza continues to grow

20170104_164712AJ’s Heavenly Pizza has been a Tiffin staple since 1981. Owner John Hill recently invested significantly in his business, painting the exterior, implementing a new point of sale system in the Tiffin and Findlay stores, and installing a new oven and hood to decrease order turn around time.

“To help the business grow, you need to find the reason for lack of growth,” John said regarding the recent improvements. “The POS has made a huge difference and so have the ovens; everything is faster.”

John said the next frontier is franchising. He and his son-in-law, Joshua Elchert – owner of the Findlay store, have been working diligently to create franchise agreement documents and manuals in order to ensure that the quality of the product and service is the same across all locations. However, the secret recipes will remain a mystery, as franchisees will receive mix packets created at the Tiffin location, meaning everything from their signature jumbo pizza to the one-of-a-kind pepperoni rolls to the house salad dressing will taste the same.

At the age of 21, John and his business partner – a childhood friend who also worked in pizza shops and, like John, a born again Christian – came from Michigan and set out to open a store in Galion. After being turned down in Galion, the pair took a wrong turn on their way to Perrysburg and found the perfect location in Tiffin. After marrying, John and his wife moved to Oklahoma, where they lived for nine years and started two AJ’s locations. Missing the small town life, John and his family moved back to Tiffin. Today, AJ’s is a strong family business, with John’s four children, their spouses, and his five grandchildren lending a hand. For more history of AJ’s Heavenly Pizza, click here.

Heritage Home Brew sells supplies, hands-on experience

20161117_165424Heritage Home Brew is a one-stop-shop for all of your wine and beer home brewing needs. Beer and wine making enthusiasts Jon Bird, Jason Bird and Matt Prenzlin opened the shop about a year and a half ago, and their business is growing.

With the nearest dedicated home brew store nearly a half-hour drive away, “We started the shop so we didn’t have to travel so far to get our supplies,” Jason said.

The shop offers everything you need to brew a beer or wine, as well as soda bases. Even if you are new to the hobby, the guys at the shop know their stuff and can walk you through all of the equipment you will need, as well as how to design a brew. When the weather is cooler, you might also find a live outdoor brewing demonstration.

Not only do they carry everything needed to make your favorite beverage at home, a few months ago they started offering wine making group classes by appointment. “They learn about everything. From sanitation to using hydrometers, and the process from choosing a recipe to bottling and corking,” Jason said.

“It’s a chemistry lesson, it’s a microbiology lesson, it’s also the horticulture of growing grapes and other ingredients,” Prenzlin added.

For $34 per person, a group of 6-8 can make a six gallon batch of wine – 28 bottles – in any flavor they choose. After 6-9 weeks, the wine is ready to be bottled, corked and labeled. The price includes the use of equipment, a wine making kit, wine samples, hors d’oeuvres, bottles and corks. They even print customized labels for each group.

In the future, they hope to expand these private classes to include beer making, as well as soda making for kids.

Check out Heritage Home Brew at 453 E. Market St. in Tiffin, right next to the BMV. They are open Tuesday-Friday 1 p.m. – 6 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. You can also shop online here.

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Downtown Tiffin recognized at Heritage Ohio Conference

Last week, SIEDC staff attended the Heritage Ohio Annual Conference in downtown Cincinnati. Staff members attended educational sessions on redevelopment, state-wide and national incentive programs, historical preservation and more.

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We also took walking tours of retail shops, restaurants, business development locations, community developments (such as parks and other public spaces), all within once neglected historical neighborhoods of downtown Cincinnati.

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Not only did we gather a wealth of information to be used in our downtown revitalization efforts, on Tuesday night, we were joined by Tiffin community members and downtown advocates as we were recognized as an official Main Street Community.

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We are excited to apply what we’ve learned to our own downtown!

Free small business seminars in Tiffin

Small Business Development Center Director Bill Auxter

Small Business Development Center Director Bill Auxter

Thinking about starting a business? Or wondering how to expand the small business you have already? The Ohio Small Business Development Center at Terra State Community College is offering free, two-hour seminars every month on how to start, buy, or expand a small business. Topics covered include the basics of name registration, licensing, taxes, advisors, business entities, employees, insurance, financing, business planning and more.

Bill Auxter, a small business owner himself (Auxter Printing Services) and Director of the Ohio Small Business Development Center for the area (located in Fremont), will be leading the sessions.

Seminars will be held at the Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce, 19 West Market Street, from 9:30-11:30 a.m. on the following days:

  • June 10
  • August 12
  • September 9
  • October 14
  • November 11

More information and a complete list of times and locations can be found here. To register, contact Bill Auxter at 419.559.2210 or bauxter@terra.edu.


Starting a business – Step 5 (paperwork)

OK, you’ve gotten advice and input. You’ve crafted your business plan. You’ve lined up the capital you need. Now, you have to make it official and file all of your paperwork so your business can get up and running. Here are my recommendations:

1. Starting Your Business in Ohio (2014 edition) – the Ohio Development Services Agency puts out a downloadable .pdf that covers a lot of the paperwork issues, including, among other topics.  I recommend reading this to get yourself familiar with what you need to do:

  • Business Name & Legal Structure
  • Independent Contractor v. Employees
  • Taxes
  • Vendor’s License
  • Licenses and Permits
  • Insurance
  • OSHA

2. Get the checklist – ODSA also provides a checklist for more than 250 different types of businesses, from starting an accounting firm to zoo. Simply go to Step 3 at business.ohio.gov/starting and see if the business you’re planning to do is listed there. Also get this to familiarize yourself with specifics.

2014_04_06 - Sec. of State Quick Start3. Quick Start for Business Entry – once you have that information, I recommend first taking actions listed on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. These apply to almost any business. They include:

  • Registering with Secretary of State
  • Getting your EIN Number
  • Opening a Bank Account
  • Contacting Ohio Dept. of Taxation
  • Employers – New Hire Reporting Center, Workers’ Compensation, Job & Family Services

4. Licensing & Permits – the Ohio Business Gateway also has a listing of many of the professions and the licenses needed to perform them. This should complement what you found at the First Stop Business Connection as well (also housed at the Ohio Business Gateway.)

5. Seek Professional Help (maybe) – at this point I recommend considering whether you want to seek the assistance of a professional individual/firm to do a lot of the paperwork for you. It’s a little like your income taxes – you can do it yourself, but do you want to? Answer – it depends. You can also start with this as step one. The three main “paperwork partners” are going to be an attorney, accountant, and insurance agent. If you need additional specialists (e.g., patent attorneys), they can assist you with that as well. Some of the local specialists (and there are many good ones) who support SIEDC include Gordon Law OfficeSupance & Howard, Meyer & Kerschner (attorneys)Lisa Young CPA (accountant) and United Insurance (insurance.)

6. Redo Starting a Business – Step 1 (advice) – you may want to run what you’re intending to do from a paperwork standpoint by the Small Business Development Center folks. Steve Auxter would be happy to help you with that.

Starting a Business Series Links:

Starting a business – Step 3 (planning)

In Steps 1 and 2, I advocated getting lots of advice – from free publicly subsidized sources, from the internet, and from the marketplace. Now, I’m going to be an advocate for business planning. BUT – it is not necessarily a one size fits all deal. Simply put, a business plan is nothing more than a systematic, thoughtful consideration of the key aspects of your business, from marketing to capital, from costs to produce to employees. I recommend it first and foremost to do it for yourself. It also is a critical document and/or slide deck when you’re trying to raise money…either from a bank or investors. So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite resources for business plans and business planning:

  1. SBA – How to Write A Business Plan (SBA’s 3 min. overview video, embedded above)
  2. Wikipedia – Business plan (good written overview of what a business plan is)
  3. SBA/Palo Alto – Developing a Successful Business Plan (free online course given by Tim Berry)
  4. Sequoia Capital – Developing a Business Plan (three articles w/Venture Capital perspective)
  5. StartmeUpVideo – Examples and Best Practices of Business Planning (15 min. interview with Tim Gedeon)
  6. docstocTV – 10 Key Questions to Address: Business Plans (9 min. video on key bullet points of business plans/planning)
  7. UC Berkeley – How to Write a Business Plan (hour long video presentation from 2010 on nuts and bolts)
  8. SBA – How to Write A Business Plan (content hub for components of business plan; each section has other articles…good)
  9. SBA – Create a Business Plan (place to register to get access to SBA’s free Business Plan Tool)
  10. SBA – Two Sample Business Plans (two sample plans, have to cut and paste the first link, but it works)
  11. Forbes (Patrick Lull) – 10 Essential Business Plan Components (blog post, very brief overview)
  12. Inc (Elisabeth Wasserman) – How to Write a Great Business Plan (more detailed overview, further links allow to go deeper)
  13. Inc – How to Structure a Business Plan (content hub with links to 30 relevant articles)
  14. Inc – Business Plans (Pinterest-type links to all articles in Inc relating to business planning)
  15. Bplans – Business Planning Guide (Palo Alto Software’s content hub, 500+ templates, free tool, detailed instructions)
  16. Wikihow – How to Write a Business Plan (medium level of detail, 2 min. video overview)
  17. SCORE – Business Planning and Financial Statements Template Gallery (more than 30 resources)
  18. Entrepreneur – Business Plan Templates (20+ downloadable resources)
  19. Entrepreneur – Top 10 Business Plan Mistakes (self explanatory)
  20. WSJ – Why Business Plans Don’t Deliver (post on 5 most common flaws in business plans)

Starting a Business Series Links: