SCORE helps business owners grow BizTalk – Spectrum News 1

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OSHKOSH, Wis. — It all started with the sourdough for Thunderbird Bakery in Oshkosh. The husband & wife-owned enterprise went back to the basics, and business is growing.
“Sourdough bread is naturally leavened, meaning no commercial yeast. Before commercial yeast was invented, all bread was sourdough. It’s a naturally fermented product,” explained Elizabeth Redman, co-owner of Thunderbird Bakery.
Redman and her husband, Trent Wester, started selling at farmers markets. Wester did the baking, and his bread was well-received. 
“I had some business experience in the food industry, and he was making delicious products,” said Redman.
Looking to expand, they turned to SCORE, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Small Business Association that’s dedicated to getting businesses off the ground.
And when the SCORE mentor for Thunderbird Bakery came in, he said he was impressed.
“It was eye-opening. I thought, this is not just a good business, it could be a really good business,” said Terry Pinch, a SCORE volunteer. “Then you see the energy they put into it. They put everything into this. The dedication they have and the hours they put in.”
Pinch, now retired, brings decades of consumer products experience as a SCORE mentor. He stays busy in retirement by advising local businesses.
Each new business owner presents different strengths and weaknesses.
“They don’t know what they don’t know,” explained Pinch. “They are really smart people with really good ideas, but they have expertise in one or two areas. So, you step in and try to help them.”
Pinch co-hosts BizTalk with fellow SCORE mentor Pat Lowney, a former credit union CEO.
“There are a lot of people asking questions that I’m able to help with because I went through those same things earlier in my career,” said Lowney.
The weekly radio show began in 2002. It features experts and local business topics.
“The most important thing that I’ve seen, especially since the pandemic hit, is there are a lot of people that are very successful in small businesses who have pivoted hard,” explained Pinch. “They were able to do that quickly. Those are the ones that are doing well.”
The show airs Saturday mornings on WHBY and episodes are available on the SCORE Fox Cities website.
Since reaching out to SCORE in 2018, Thunderbird Bakery has gone from farmers markets to operating its own commercial space.
They expanded beyond sourdough bread, and currently sell wholesale to local businesses. They also have in-store pickup and an online home delivery service.
Beyond business advice, Thunderbird recently received a $1,000 grant from SCORE. The funds went toward wrapping the bakery’s delivery van.
The two Thunderbird owners said there has been one other big benefit to working with SCORE.
“Sometimes, as a small business owner, you just need somebody to encourage you and say, ‘you’re doing great. Keep going. You got something here,’” said Redman. “It’s a rollercoaster, owning your own business. Sometimes that little bit of encouragement from a retired professional means a lot.”
The bakery plans to open a pop-up retail location in Oshkosh later this fall.
They are one of many businesses achieving their dreams with some help from SCORE volunteers.


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