4. March, 2016|Advisee News, General Program|No comments
By: Daily Record Staff
Kim Valentine-Langley owner, National Fiber and Copper
National Fiber and Copper is a woman owned, communications installation and service company that provides IT solutions to commercial businesses and governmental agencies.
Title: Founder / President since 1999
Organization: National Fiber and Copper, Inc.
Family Details: Born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania; Husband Andy Langley, Son Philip Tuzynski,
Stepdaughter Jessica Langley and the very proud owner of “Abbey,” 10-year old golden retriever
Education: Graduated Technical Memorial High School in Erie, Pennsylvania
Affiliations: An active member of the following:
Top Vacation Destination: Caribbean. Favorite Island is Aruba.
Hobbies: Cooking, gardening and entertaining family and friends at my home are my favorite things to do in my spare time.
When did you know that this was a career you were interested in? What drew you to this?
I was introduced to the technology field at a previous job. That role enabled me to be involved with clients who were in the construction field, which interested me. I became involved in providing cable solutions to clients and was encouraged to create a new business in information technology through an acquaintance.
What obstacles and challenges did you have to overcome?
Getting the right people in the right positions was key to success. Like many small-business startups, I had to manage the fear and uncertainty of starting a new business. There were many challenges that I faced, such as financial stability, attracting new customers, creating a web presence and hiring the right people. I realized I could not do everything myself and was going to need people with the right expertise to help me along this journey. That is still true to this day.
Were there detours that you had to make along the way?
This article is featured in The Daily Record’s Path To Excellence: A Woman’s Guide To Business. The mission of the Path to Excellence magazine is to give readers the opportunity to meet successful women of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs and learn how they define success. Read more from Path to Excellence.
27. October, 2015|General Program|No comments
Did you know that women entrepreneurs are the fastest growing segment of US Small Business with 1,200 new businesses forming each day? Listen to more of Laura Gamble’s Public Commentary on WYPR by clicking here and scrolling to October 27, 2015.
17. August, 2015|Advisee News|No comments
ATHENAPowerLink’s first Baltimore graduate says year-long program helped her reach next level of success.
Browse the boutique aMuse Toys in Fells Point or its sister store in Quarry Lake and chances are it looks much as it did a year ago. Wooden shelves are still stocked neatly with well-designed, developmentally appropriate toys that stimulate a child’s imagination, staff still help customers and programs still run in #thelab. But ask owner Claudia Towles and she will tell you that behind the scenes, her business has changed significantly, thanks to the ATHENAPowerLink women’s business mentoring program.
“I don’t think the business itself has changed so much as the process behind it, the ownership and the vision,” she said. “Before there was a lot of gut – this feels right, don’t necessarily have the data, don’t necessarily understand why it feels right. We had muddy waters before in terms of the back end of the business.” . . . .
23. April, 2015|Advisee News, Press Release|No comments
TOY STORE OWNER GAINS CONFIDENCE AND STRATEGIC PLAN FROM WOMEN’S BUSINESS MENTORING PROGRAM
Claudia Towles, owner of aMuse Toys, was honored as the first Baltimore graduate of the ATHENAPowerLink® program, a yearlong mentoring program sponsored by PNC Bank. The program provides business guidance to help women-owned businesses meet their goals and objectives to achieve the next level of success.
aMuse Toys is a family-owned, Baltimore-based independent toy store that carries well-designed, developmentally appropriate toys which stimulate children’s imaginations. Towles opened aMuse Toys in Fells Point nearly 10 years ago and her second location recently expanded into a larger space at Quarry Lake. Towles and her husband Tom, had built a profitable company, but she quickly recognized the value of being surrounded by a team of professional advisors who could help grow her business.
A volunteer panel of business advisors, chosen specifically for their expertise and ability to assist aMuse Toys, worked with Towles on bringing her vision for the company forward. The panel, led by Lauren Kronthal, chief marketing officer, ConnectYourCare Baltimore, offered expertise and free guidance on strategic planning, business plan development, financials, leadership, marketing and networking and served as a sounding board for ideas.
“This was an invaluable experience, for me and for the growth of my business,” said Towles. “I was able to do something small business owners rarely have time to do – step outside the day-to-day operations, look at the big picture and create a comprehensive strategic plan that will help me navigate my business going forward.”
“Claudia has remarkable business instincts, but she needed a long-term view of her business and a disciplined approach to managing financials,” said Kronthal. “By going through this program, she now has a good line of sight into her finances and clarity around where she wants to take the business and how to get there.”
“It’s given me the confidence to forge ahead. I was trying to light the way with a match, now I have a powerful LED helmet and am no longer making decisions in the dark,” said Towles.
According to Laura Gamble, PNC regional president in Greater Maryland, PNC launched the program in 2013 because Baltimore lacked a business mentoring program of this caliber.
“Women are the fastest-growing segment of business owners and mentoring and coaching programs like this are playing a key role in their success and strengthening the local business community,” said Gamble.
“The advisors had my company’s best interests in mind and invested their time and energy in helping me run the business more effectively,” continued Towles. “I strongly urge women business owners to take advantage of this tremendous resource.”
The Baltimore ATHENAPowerLink® program accepts applications on a rolling basis. For information on how to apply for the program, visit www.athenapowerlinkbaltimore.org.
9. March, 2015|General Program|No comments
Laura Gamble joined PNC Bank as regional president for the Greater Maryland region in 2012, but she was well known in the banking industry in Baltimore from her years as Maryland regional president for Bank of America Corp.
She left Bank of America and co-founded a Baltimore business consulting firm, Skipjack Partners, before returning to her roots in banking as the local leader of PNC Bank.
Her experience as a business owner and more than 30 years in banking has helped in her current role, especially when it comes to working with small business owners.
“PNC has a real focus on working with women business owners,” Gamble said.
PNC provides bankers with proprietary training to help support the success of women business owners. More than 1,500 employees companywide have been PNC-certified as Women Business Advocates who understand the opportunities and challenges female financial decision-makers and women business owners face.
Recognizing that Baltimore lacked a business mentoring program for women business owners, Gamble spearheaded efforts to launch the ATHENAPowerLink program locally. The program guides women business owners in defining and achieving tangible goals by providing them with access to a panel of business advisers over the course of year.
“The business applies, is selected, and we assemble a team of experts in entrepreneurship, human resources, finance, sales, accounting, law and other industries to advise on how to access capital, implement best practices and reach operational and strategic goals,” Gamble said.
What really caught her eye . . .
20. November, 2013|Advisee News|No comments
The first ATHENA Powerlink Baltimore Advisee makes headlines in the Baltimore Business Journal!
Baltimore Business Journal – November 20, 2013 by Sarah Meehan
AMuse Toys knows the value of play time. So, the Quarry Lake toy shop is packing up its building blocks, doll houses and stuffed animals and moving two doors down to a storefront with more space for fun events.
AMuse, located at the Shops at Quarry Lake, began hosting informal workshops earlier this year to draw customers into the store, and owner Claudia Towles said she wanted to expand to have space specifically for special events. The toy shop will relocate to a 2,100-square-foot space at 2580 Quarry Lake Drive in mid-January or early February, a move that will grow its space by about a third.
7. October, 2013|General Program|No comments
A national mentoring program for women entrepreneurs is expanding to Baltimore. Athena PowerLink pairs women business owners with a team of advisers, such as lawyers, accountants and bankers to help them grow their business.
Participants in the 1-year program have averaged a more than 88 percent increase in sales a year after completing the program, along with gains in business income and personal income . . . READ MORE
23. September, 2013|General Program, Press Release|No comments
Baltimore, September 23, 2013 – The ATHENAPowerLink@ program has officially come to Baltimore, bringing valuable advisory services to boost the achievement of local women business owners. Lead sponsor PNC Bank has joined forces with community business leaders to launch the national program here in support of the growth and profitability of local women-owned businesses.