Friday, September 27, 2013

Locally Grown Produce at Thai Smoothie & Grill

By: Janay Laville Crump and Ayana Chamness
UOG Student Interns

Christopher Quitano had a dream to become his own boss and with the motivation his wife bestowed in him, it became possible. In 2010, after participating in the Guam SBDC Microcredit Training program, successfully completing the twelve-workshop program, prior experience in running a small smoothie business in Saipan and working in a purchasing department, he opened his doors to the people of Guam.

Three years later, Thai Smoothie and Grill has developed a loyal following of customers that crave their authentic local cuisine and fresh fruit smoothies. The unique feature of this mobile food business is that most of the vegetables found in their dishes are locally grown. When arriving at Thai Smoothie and Grill, one can see the display of the herbs and vegetables growing in small pots surrounding the canteen. There is an assortment of lemon grass, papaya, hot pepper, basil, spearmint, chafer lime, egg plants and Thai ginger. Your mouth will water with delight when tasting their green curry: fresh eggplant with a touch of coconut milk. Then, you can cool off by indulging in their ube-coconut flavored smoothie.

When asked why they grow their produce rather than buy, Christopher responded that the weather here on Guam makes it possible to grow your own herbs and vegetables. He stressed that he makes the time to plant what will be used in Thai Smoothie and Grill and also extends the benefits to his family. “There are some herbs you just can’t find in stores or markets.” This makes Thai Smoothie and Grill uniquely delicious.

Christopher wishes to expand his business for the natural reasons of making life more comfortable for his wife, daughter and two little boys, but there are other reasons that drive him as well. “Every (working) day is beautiful.” He mentioned that the comments from his customers about the food only inspire him to do more for the community and even open another mobile canteen. Through the years he had to make sacrifices to be as successful as he is now. “Don’t be afraid to open that door, challenges are always there, take it one at a time and don’t give up.”
Thai Smoothie and Grill is a small location with big and fresh flavors. It is best to order in advance, or you might miss out on their fresh spring rolls accompanied by authentic peanut sauce! They are on the corner of Rte. 4 and Dero Rd. in Ordot and open Monday through Friday, 7am-6pm and Saturday and Holidays, 10am-6pm.

For more information on how the Guam SBDC can help you, contact us at (671)735-2590 or visit our website at

Friday, September 20, 2013

Customer Service Training for Frontline Employee

By: Mason Fritz
Chuuk Visitors Bureau

The two-day “Customer Service Training for Frontline Employee” in Chuuk sponsored by Chuuk Visitors Bureau, PATA Micronesia, and Chuuk SBDC was a success with 18 representatives from private sectors, government, and Non-Government Organizations (NGO) participated. The customer service training started on Thursday, June 27th to Friday, June 28th, 2013 at the Truk Stop Conference Room.

Mr. John Calvo, member of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Micronesia and a PATA trainer in customer service, volunteered to conduct the Customer Service Training for Frontline Employee in Chuuk.

The objective of the training is to train the trainer. After the training, new trainers can go back to their respective offices or businesses to develop their own customer service trainings for their frontline staff with the assistance from Chuuk Visitors Bureau (CVB). Among the participants, ten represented the major operators - hotels, restaurants, and dive shops in Chuuk, three from government offices, and five from NGOs.

The set up of the training emphasized the practicality of customer service which was easy for the participants to understand and follow along. Chuuk Visitors Bureau opened the training everyday with a short customer service presentation by CVB Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) volunteer Ms. Yoko Kawamukai on Japanese language and specific customer services. The rest of the day was the main customer service training by Mr. John Calvo. At the end of the two-day training, almost all of the participants received a certificate of completion.

Chuuk Visitors Bureau, PATA Micronesia Chapter, PISBDCN – Chuuk SBDC, and Untied Airlines extend their congratulations and appreciation to the following businesses, government offices, and NGOs for their participation: Blue Lagoon Resort and Restaurant, Blue Lagoon Dive Shop, Truk Stop Hotel and Restaurant, Truk Dive Center, C&I, The Governor’s Office, The Election Office, and CWC.

The sponsors along with the participating businesses, offices, and NGO extend their appreciation to Mr. John Calvo for his valuable time volunteering to train the frontline employees in Chuuk to improve and develop new methods of Customer Service, the Chuukese way.

Friday, September 13, 2013

More Coffee More Business

An Interview with Kimberly L. Gilmar, Owner of Colonia's Best Coffee

By: James Limar
(Yap SBDC)
Kimberly Gilmar, left, with Colonia's Best Coffee Staff

Why did you decide to start your own business?
KLG: It has been a long-time dream for us to open up a coffee shop / snack bar. Also, we wanted to bring something different into the community of Yap.

What experience do you have in this type of business?
KLG: I was employed at a coffee shop called “Lamassatt Fresh” back in California for two and a half years. I also worked for the A & W Company which also dealt with other mixed drink products.

How did the Small Business Development Center and other resources help you?
KLG: I am happy to say that Yap SBDC is the enabler for our success. It is because of the business counselors’ help and support that we were able to put together our business plan and successfully get funding by the bank. Aside from the counseling and training assistance, Yap SBDC also accepted us into its incubating program which puts us at a central location in town to run our business from. It is that business support system offered by the Yap SBDC that helps and continues to help us tremendously.

What was the start-up process like? How did you fund your business?
KLG: Oh boy! What can we say; the process of starting our business was not easy work. From raising funds to obtaining permits, purchasing inventory, hiring employees to the actual opening of the shop, it took us almost 4 months. Our lender, the Pacific Islands Development Bank, on the other hand, was very generous and quick in its processing of our loan application which took less than a month to get approved and disbursed.

What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced in the start-up process?
KLG: The major challenges we experienced were the training of the new employees to get the exact measurement of the ingredients for drinks and the consistency in the quality of our products. Also, the marketing of our product to get new customers to try them out was a challenge.

What is your most memorable triumph in your start-up process?
KLG: It is the joy that comes with the accomplishment of one’s own dream on that day we officially opened our door for business.

What are your long-term plans for your business?
KLG: Long-term goals are 1) to not give up on running our business to the next level of success and 2) to expand to other locations on island and hopefully beyond.

What advice would you give to others who want to start a business at this time?
KLG: Good Luck! Anything is possible if you set your mind to it. Don’t give up! Talk to your banker, SBDC, your friends and family.

The Yap Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is an affiliate of the University of Guam’s PISBDCN supported in part, by the U.S SBA under a cooperative agreement. Services are extended to the general public on a non-discriminatory basis. Please call Yap SBDC at (691)350-4801/2 for assistance.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Green Flash Comics, Be a Hero

By Perry Inos Jr.

Glenn Keaton, proud owner of Green Flash Comics, arrived in the CNMI in 2002, where he was an instructor for the Northern Marianas College in Mathematics and Science. Glenn is a father of two wonderful children, Jack and Sara, and a humble husband to Susan Keaton. Growing to love the CNMI for “Saipan’s beautiful lush greenery, lovely tropical climate, clear air, and cleansing rain,” the Keatons have made the CNMI their home.
Glenn has been a comic enthusiast since the age of 12, growing to love the favorites such as Spiderman, Thor, Iron Man, and the X-men. He noticed the trend of the transition from comic to movie and  observed a growing market as more comic enthusiasts & collectors came about. Attending a comic convention in Dubai, he stated, “there were thousands who attended a much larger attendance than I expected, especially for a region that had no comic book stores.” Glenn saw a demand in Dubai and the CNMI. Glenn stated, “He would like to establish a reputation as a business in the CNMI, then utilize Gold Key Services, referred to by the CNMI SBDC, to expand operations to Dubai, what more then to bridge English literacy than Comics.”
Glenn Keaton’s experience as a comic collector and pursuing comics at many different comic retail stores throughout the years became his hobby. Now, “I would like to start my own business and have comic collectors & children purchase comics from Green Flash Comics,” stated Glenn.
Glenn says that “the CNMI Small Business Development Center helped with creating a definite plan for getting the business that needs to be considered. The CNMI SBDC outlined the process, starting with setting me up with writing a business plan that clearly described and set down costs and budgets, schedules and strategies, objectives and goals, etc.”
Glenn admitted that “the start-up process is a bit harrowing, and often scary; mainly because this is the first time for me to have my own retail business.” There was many processes to follow, getting “the business from an idea to a reality and I utilized my own personal funds to properly start up the business at a planned rate of preparation and growth.”
The biggest challenge for Glenn was finding the best location to fit his target market. “There were lots of spaces on Saipan for rent, but picking only one could be disastrous when they didn’t fit my budget needs.” The most memorable triumph for Glenn was “committing to my dream and turning the idea into a reality.”
The short-term goal for Green Flash Comics is to gain control in its market and to be known in the community by its marketing campaign. Green Flash Comics’ long term goals are to “contribute to literacy campaign in the CNMI by working with the local library, expanding their business to meet local needs, being affordable, and giving local artists an outlet for their talents, and then eventually expand to Dubai.”
Lastly, the advice Glenn Keaton of Green Flash Comics give to others in starting a business is “to contact CNMI SBDC. They will get you started in the right direction and give you a realistic outlook to your plans.”
Green Flash is open on weekdays and weekends from 10am – 6pm, located in Garapan, Saipan Across TSL Plaza 2nd Floor. For inquiries contact Green Flash Comics at or via email at
For more information on how the CNMI SBDC can help you, call (670)664-3018 or visit our website at

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Friday, September 6th (8:30am – 11:30am) **Registration & payment deadline 9/4/2013 at 12noon
“How to Start a Business”
Presented by Denise Mendiola-Hertslet, Senior Business Counselor/WIB Program Coordinator
Fee: $20 per person
Location: UOG Guam SBDC RM #148 Leon Guerrero SBPA Building
SYNOPSIS: This workshop will help individuals learn everything they will need to get started, including an introduction to business plans and the importance of preparing one; exploring the legal forms of business (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, limited liability partnership / company) and which one is right for your business needs; local or federal licensing requirements for the business. Participants will be able to obtain vital information and resources to start and own a business. This training will take the mystery out of starting a business and help participants better evaluate their business idea!

Thursday & Friday, September 19th & 20th (8:00am–4:00pm) **Registration & payment deadline 9/17/2013 at 12noon
“Guam Export University 101”
Presented by Hawaii Pacific Export Council
Fee: $50 per person
Location: UOG Guam SBDC RM #129 Leon Guerrero SBPA Building
SYNOPSIS: Export University 101, co-sponsored by the Guam SBDC and GEDA, is a comprehensive training seminar that will teach you all major aspects of exporting while developing a global strategy for your business. Participants will receive materials and information that will allow them to create their company-specific International Business Plan to navigate their best markets! From industry experts to our very knowledgeable community partners, the Export University will help small businesses that are new to exporting as well as those with a blossoming international business grow their global business. Sign up today!

Thursday, September 26th (12noon–2pm) **Registration & payment deadline 9/24/2013 at 12noon
“WIB: Growth Venture- Reaching the Market
Presented by Denise Mendiola-Hertslet, Senior Business Counselor/WIB Program Coordinator
Fee: $20 per person
Location: Bank of Guam Headquarters 2nd floor Conference Room
SYNOPSIS: With literally thousands of things you could do to promote your business, what image, strategies, and techniques will create a connection with your market? This workshop will help you plan ways to reach the markets you have identified. We will discuss how to sell your product or service by exploring various strategies used by other entrepreneurs.

TO REGISTER log onto
TO MAKE PAYMENT online log onto your eCenter account and click PAY NOW
Cash, check (payable to University of Guam) & major credit cards (AMEX, Visa, MasterCard, and Diners Club & JCB) accepted.

For more information, please call the Guam SBDC at 735-2590.

DISCLAIMER: The Pacific Islands SBDC Network is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA. Requests for reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. For arrangements, please contact Nicole Tesiro, P.O. Box 5014 Mangilao, Guam 96923, Tel: (671)735-2590, or Email, Services are extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis.