Each year SCORE Chester and Delaware Counties recognizes owners and entrepreneurs that have demonstrated unique vision, innovation, and achievement in support of our local economy and small business community.
This year, congratulations went to five 2022 Small Business Achievement Award winners honored June 16th at a celebratory luncheon at the Concord Country Club.
Meet an award winner: Marianela Kramer, Co-owner of ASAP Lead Testing and Locksmith out of Philadelphia County.
ASAP Lead Testing and Locksmith was established to provide affordable quality lead inspections and certify local rental properties as lead-safe.
Entrepreneurs have a special talent to be able to identify an important problem they want to solve, work on an effective and efficient process to make it better and create a new business at the right time.
Marianela Kramer, known to her friends and clients as Marie, manages rental properties in Philadelphia with her husband, Ken.
The Kramers attended a lead safety training in 2020 with the intention of becoming certified as dust sampling technicians in order to test their own properties.
The city had just passed a law requiring all rental properties built before 1978 to be certified as lead-safe or lead-free within a two-year phase. While Marie had been certified years before, she had not been active in the practice and had to renew her accreditation.
A guest speaker joined the class and asked a question: “Who here is thinking about doing this lead-safety testing as a business? Raise your hand.”
He explained how difficult this process could be. Testers need to visit each tenant’s apartment, collect multiple samples in tubes for various rooms, package them carefully and accurately and expedite shipping them to labs. There is significant prep time, record-keeping and administrative follow-up with property managers and landlords. Not everyone is a good fit for this type of small business.
This regulation was introduced Oct. 1, 2020 around the time that COVID-19 shutdowns and quarantines were occurring. Rental properties all over the city were experiencing disruptions in their operations and considerable revenue losses. Many tenants could not pay their rent.
Marie thought, “I could do this. I know people who could be our customers.”
Problem-solving and entrepreneurship come naturally to Marie. She raised her hand because she understood the urgency of this new law and the business opportunity.
SCORE Mentors, Don Barber and Steve Traino, provided advice that helped Marie define the company’s position in a highly competitive market, focusing on quality and service, not price.
ASAP continues to grow, turning a respectable profit in its first year, having sampled hundreds of rental units by the end of 2021. Marie has a steady flow of new customers with referrals from her clients who are reputable property managers and landlords.
ASAP is receiving calls for testing from their nephews, brothers and friends who also own rental properties!
SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer business experts, is dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals. Since 1964, we have provided education and mentorship to more than 11 million entrepreneurs nationwide. SCORE Chester and Delaware Counties has been operating since 1985, with 100 dedicated volunteers today who provide confidential mentoring at no charge and offer business seminars, workshops and webinars to benefit the local community.
SCORE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
Here’s a video highlighting ASAP Lead Testing and Locksmith and Marianela Kramer, and how SCORE mentors helped her.