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Curated Collection Of The Best Interviews From Our Midtown Studio

Veteran Owned Small Businesses


Melinda Coker and Kit Walker talk Veteran Owned Businesses

Veteran Owned Small Businesses

This week I was joined in studio by friend of the show, Lara Hodgson, CEO of NOWaccount.  We focused this episode on veteran owned small businesses.  Lara introduced us to Kit Walker, a combat-disabled veteran who started his own small business, EBS-4U, after spending several years in the corporate world.

His company provides professional cleaning services for businesses and has begun to expand into construction clean-up.  After completing certification as a minority business enterprise and combat-disabled veteran, Kit began to expand his business through fulfilling federal contract opportunities.

We also met Melinda Coker, of Small Business Access Partners, of Gainesville, GA.  This non-profit organization works with small business owners, helping them get access to available small business loans for their particular needs.

In our discussion on veteran owned businesses, Melinda explained there are numerous options for business owners today, and shared some information about veteran owned businesses.

Coker explained a resource available through the Veterans Administration.  If you go to the VA’s website which is and click on the resources link and then select businesses, there are several helpful links for veteran small business owners who are seeking financing for their businesses.

VA’s website also allows business owners to customize their search criteria by zip code to find financing options applicable to their area of operation.  SBA’s website also has a special tool now for small business owners known as SBA Linc that allows small business owners to fill out a survey for the financing they are looking for and then SBA distributes that information to a network of lenders who can then
respond based on the financing need requested.  The applicant is also provided the contact information for the lenders interested in their request.

Special Guests:

Lara O’Connor-Hodgson, CEO of Nowaccount Network Corporation  Twitter  LinkedIn  Facebook

Nowaccount Network Corporation

  • MBA Harvard Business School
  • Former Adjunct Professor of Finance, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Board of Directors, Georgia Regional Transportation Authority
  • Owner, Insomnia Group
  • Chairman of the Board, Atlanta Heights Charter School
  • Second Language–Japanese

Kit Walker, CEO/Founder of EBS-4U  linkedin_small1


  • MBA, Management & Organizational Behavior, Woodbury University
  • Combat-wounded veteran
  • Previous VP Relationship Manager, Bank of America
  • Former Consultant, Migration Project Partner, Wells Fargo Bank

Melinda Coker, of Small Business Access Partners linkedin_small1

Small Business Access Partners


JR Revelry Bourbon Whiskey

Rick Tapia

Rick Tapia, founder of JR Revelry Bourbon Whiskey

JR Revelry Bourbon Whiskey

On this episode I featured friend of the show, Rick Tapia, the founder of JR Revelry Bourbon Whiskey.  I met Rick last year around this time, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month when he appeared on Let’s Talk Small Business, sponsored by the GMSDC.

JR Revelry Bourbon Whiskey

We talked about how he  spent the early years of his career learning about the business side of the beverage industry with Seagram Company.  As his career advanced, the possibility of having to relocate began to appear on the horizon Rick decided it was time to pursue an idea that had been on his mind for a while—he’d start his own brand.

So, Rick began working on developing a recipe that would provide the flavor profile and color he was looking for, found a contract distiller, selected the glass he would use, and JR Revelry was born.  When I met him last year he was in the process of contacting distributors through which his bourbon would make it to package store and restaurant/bar shelves.

Tapia shared how challenging it is to forge a relationship with distributors, describing how many new beverage makers are trying to do the same time.  He ultimately found a receptive distributor in New York and was able to begin marketing his spirit.

Today, JR Revelry Bourbon Whiskey is available in four states, including Georgia, and he’s continuing to work to expand the footprint of his brand.

I had the opportunity to try his bourbon and I can tell you, it is excellent, particularly for its price point.  To find out where you can purchase your own  bottle, visit the JR Revelry website to see merchants who carry his product.

Special Guest:

Jesus Ricardo (Rick) Tapia, Founder of La Bodega International, LLC and Creator of J.R. Revelry

Facebook  Twitter 16x16

JR Revelry

  • 17 years of experience in alcohol beverage industry
  • Successful entrepreneur
  • Actively involved in the community, supporting Hispanic and Latin American Chambers of Commerce
  • BA, Boston University
  • Speaks Fluent Spanish


Expand a Brand

Expand a Brand

Weinstock Immigration Lawyers

Expand a Brand

This week I hosted Karen Weinstock, of Weinstock Immigration Lawyers and Adrian Queenan, founder and CEO of Expand a Brand.  Adrian and his team created the familiar tear-shaped banners you see at conferences, sporting events, and festivals.  Expand a Brand is a South African-based company that recently launched a US location.

Both Karen and Adrian immigrated to the states and launched businesses here.  Karen shared her personal story of the challenges she experienced when she was going through the process of working to get a visa, establish her credit, get an apartment, securing work, etc.  It was during this time she decided she would direct her work to helping immigrants who followed after her.

Adrian talked about how they had been doing business in the US for a number of years through a local distributor.  They ultimately decided they would create a US-base of operations to supplement their original location.  He described how he researched numerous immigration attorneys prior to applying for the necessary visa.

They chose the Weinstock Immigration Lawyers to give them guidance through the assistance and were successful in getting established in the US and have been growing their business since.  Adrian talked about how his company provides a variety of tents and banners for use at any sort of event.  And they provide a product that is designed to stand out visually to help their customers present their brands effectively in busy event venues.

Special Guests:

Adrian Queenan, Founder/CEO of Expand a Brand  facebook_logo_small3  youtube logo  twitter_logo_small  google-plus-logo-red-265px  linkedin_small1

Expand a Brand

  • B Comm, Commerce, University of the Witwatersrand
  • Previous Supply Chain Manager, Tiger Brands
  • Former Sales & Marketing Director, Dell
  • Speaks English and Afrikans

Karen Weinstock, Founder/Managing Attorney, Weinstock Immigration Lawyers  linkedin_small1  twitter_logo_small  facebook_logo_small3

Weinstock Immigration Lawyers

  • LLB, Law, Hebrew University, Israel
  • Author, H1b Visa Book 2009
  • Former Managing Attorney, Siskind Susser PC
  • Fluent, English Hebrew
  • Professional-Working Proficient, Spanish

Reinventing Yourself

IRC Wealth

Debi Buckland and Dave Ragland talk reinventing yourself.

Reinventing Yourself

On this week’s episode we continued our monthly series with IRC Wealth.  CEO, Dave Ragland, and VP Business Development, Joe Schum, joined me in studio along with Debi Buckland, a certified therapist and professional coach.  Our topic was reinventing yourself.

Many of us adults know the feeling of, “I need to make a change,” when it comes to thinking about one’s job.  It’s hard to truly know what your true self is/wants when you’re graduating from high school and selecting an academic and professional path.  That means that for a lot of us, we find ourselves wanting to transition to something else that will be more in line with our spirit and personal values.

With his background as a financial planner and wealth adviser, David talked about how important it is for individuals to consider their personal values and wants relating to their quality of life and standard of living when thinking about making changes that will affect their income.  Clearly, leaving one’s job to pursue a dream, whether that’s a new career move or retirement will involve a measure of financial risk.

By sitting down with experts such as David when in the planning phase, risk can be mitigated by understanding obligations, getting a plan for debt elimination, potentially making changes in standard of living expenses, and developing a time line that will facilitate addressing these issues as well as allowing the individual to enjoy their new pursuits.

As a therapist who spends much time speaking with individuals who are wanting to make a change in their lives, she talked about how important it is to be moving toward something more than running away from something.  We also discussed how important it is to talk to one’s partner about the changes they’re contemplating since they will also affect their life as well.

As we talked through the show, it was clear that all our experts agree–it can be a great thing for us to find The Thing that allows us to be more authentic, more who we really are.  And it was also obvious that sitting down with an expert to craft a plan isn’t simply going to end in being told, “No, you shouldn’t do that.”  With some diligence and some planning with qualified pros, you might find you can make that transition to the new you sooner (and more safely) than you think.

David Ragland, CEO/Founder, IRC Wealth


Joe Schum, VP Business Development, IRC Wealth


Debi Buckland, LMFT, LPC, CPCS