SBDC advisor named Washington Star Performer

By Hope Belli Tinney, Washington SBDC

Shockley-80SEATTLE – Rich Shockley was named the 2013 Washington State Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Star Performer May 8 at the Small Business Administration gala at the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field in Seattle.

“Rich’s real-world experiences in diverse industries and at various stages of the business life cycle make him an invaluable advisor for entrepreneurs,” said Duane Fladland, interim director of the Washington SBDC.

With more than 20 centers across the state, the SBDC provides one-to-one confidential business advising, demand-driven training and market research to both new and established small business owners at no cost to the client. The Washington SBDC is a cooperative effort of Washington State University, other educational institutions, economic development organizations and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Shockley joined the SBDC in 2008 and is one of two SBDC advisors located at Highline Community College in Des Moines. He has bought or built (and sold) more than a half-dozen companies over the past 30 years.

He will be recognized in September at the national conference for the Association of Small Business Development Centers in Grapevine, Texas, as Washington’s Star Performer.

‘Key financial expertise’ for free

According to Fladland, Shockley has earned high marks from his clients, including one who called the personal attention he and his wife received “difficult to describe in words.” The client went on to explain that his one-to-one meetings with Shockley were the equivalent of earning a college business degree.

“He has always been there when I needed help,” agreed SBDC client John Blaue, a partner in tCamelot Trucking ( Blaue said he first went to see Shockley after months of trying to get a loan without success.

When Shockley read Blaue’s painstakingly constructed business plan, he suggested a major revision, which Blaue balked at. Blaue said Shockley remained respectful but firm and was patient in his explanation for why the change was needed.

Ultimately, Blaue said, he took Shockley’s advice. He got the loan: “It was purely because of Rich,” he said.

Blaue said he has continued meeting with Shockley to discuss business strategy as the company has grown.
“He’s really good because he offers key financial expertise that a lot of small business owners don’t have.” Blaue said.

32 jobs, five new businesses

During 2013, Shockley met one-to-one with 126 clients and logged an additional 62 hours as a co-advisor with SBDC colleagues and their clients across the state.

According to his clients, Shockley helped them create or save 32 jobs and start five new businesses. His clients accessed more than $1 million in capital in 2013 to help them start or grow their small businesses.

Shockley is one of 26 SBDC advisors in Washington who worked with more than 2,660 clients in 2013, were responsible for nearly $37 million in capital formation and created or saved 892 jobs.

Washington SBDC international trade experts assisted 225 clients in 2013 who reported $2 million in new revenue because of their exporting program.

Life goal to own a business

Shockley, who earned a degree in business and finance from Western Washington University, said he was in college when he first decided he wanted to own his own business. One evening when he should have been studying, he said, he created a list of nine or 10 goals; owning his own business was one of them.

Eight years later, owning a small business was the only goal he hadn’t accomplished. (He’d already married his high school sweetheart, Karen; they’d built their own home; they had three young children.) So, when he had an opportunity to buy a business, he went for it.

The company was $1 million in debt at the time, he said, so it wasn’t a great opportunity. But he didn’t lose his shirt (or his house, on which he took out a second mortgage) and he learned a lot from the experience.

“That was the first time I understood the value of having an advisory board to help move a company forward,” he said.

When he sold the company three years later, he had some money in the bank to finance his next venture.

Creating and building value

Other businesses Shockley has helped start or grow include Mosaic, a technology training and consulting company, and Fox Hollow Coffee Roasters.

“I’m an opportunist,” he said, and smiled. He isn’t passionate about any particular type of business, he said, but about the process of building and creating value in a business.

Still, he said, he does appreciate those SBDC small business clients who are passionate about their product or service – whether it’s the inventor trying to bring new technology to market or the single mom creating a multifaceted indoor play center.

“People who are passionate about their business are going to succeed one way or the other,” he said, “but I might be able to help them get there a little bit quicker.”

Accessing network of talent

Most of the problems small business owners encounter are problems he encountered himself at one time or another, he said, which puts him in a good position to offer advice.

Sometimes, he said, his best advice is, “Don’t do it that way; I’ve tried it that way.”

If he runs into a challenge he hasn’t encountered, he said, he calls on the expertise of the other 26 advisors in the Washington SBDC Network.

“The SBDC has tremendous online resources and tools,” he said, “but the real strength of our network is the advisors and their varied skills and expertise.”

Working the plan

While the SBDC has a reputation for working primarily with new business owners, Shockley said many of his clients have been in business for several years and are working to move their businesses to the next level.

Often, he said, owners know the principles of sound business management; but implementing those principles can be tricky, especially when they are mired in the day-to-day challenges.

That’s why an outside advisor, or even an advisory board, can be so useful, he said.

Shockley keeps a card in his wallet that he received from a mentor; he has since made similar cards for his three grown kids. It reads, “Have a goal. Have a plan. Have a burning desire to work the plan and throw off all discouragement no matter where it comes from.”

“The hard part isn’t having the goal,” he said. “It’s having a defined plan and working the plan.”

For more information about the WSBDC, go to


Rich Shockley, Washington SBDC advisor,, 206-592-4150
Duane Fladland, Washington SBDC interim director,, 509-358-7767