In what arena does success require perseverance, training, hard work and discipline? Olympic competition? Sure, but any successful entrepreneur will tell you that the same mindset applies to business. Frank Masley, co-owner of Masley Enterprises of Wilmington, DE is one of the few Americans who can speak to that from personal experience. The three time Olympic luger conceived the idea for his gloves while working at W. L. Gore and Associates as a textile engineer, and in July 2000 he launched his own business to develop, manufacture, and market his idea. Fifteen years later, Frank and wife Donna, operate their factory on the banks of the Brandywine River in Wilmington, making gloves for a variety of customers especially the US military.
Frank and Donna Masley point to the importance of a strong team in business success. “We emphasize work-life balance, and our employees know that if they have an issue—with child care or transportation, for example—they can bring it to us, and we’ll do our best to help them resolve it. We really respect our employees, and they know that.” The Masleys also offer their employees a variety of worksite benefits, including incentives for reduced manufacturing failures, an exercise program to mitigate stress, and social events like lunches and pretzel parties.
Another important piece of advice- get help. “Olympic and professional athletes (at least the successful ones) need good coaching”, says Frank Masley, who sought assistance from the experienced professionals at theSmall Business Development and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers at the University of Delaware. Both are part of the Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships (OEIP) Since then, the business has taken advantage of about every resource available. “Our tax dollars fund these programs”, notes company President Donna Masley, “taking advantage of these excellent free resources is just smart business.”
“SBDC advisors assisted with business planning, financial projections, marketing advice, even analysis of software options. PTAC helped us get a GSA Schedule Contract and become certified as a woman-owned business. “PTAC Director Juanita Beauford also made the Masley’s aware of the US Small Business Administration’s HUBzone program .
The property the Masleys purchased and occupied in February 2013 is a former mill in Wilmington’s Eastside neighborhood. Their employees, many of whom have never had regular jobs, now report to work in an environment that not only is safe and comfortable but also offers a water view.
“I would encourage more companies to take advantage of the HUB zone designation,” Frank says. “The lines are redrawn every 10 years, and we could lose our status if the program here is successful. But nothing would make me happier than to see that happen. We want more people in Wilmington to be gainfully employed.” He also urges other small business owners to seek out the support of the SBDC.
For more on Masley Enterprises see the article in The Delaware Business Times.