Mrs. Clean

Comments (1) Posted By Joe on October 29, 2009 in Entrepreneur Directory
Sandra Perez's business, S.P. Cleaning, is known for quality maid service.

Sandra Perez's business, S.P. Cleaning, is known for quality maid service.

In the seven years Sandra Perez has been cleaning houses, she has developed a reputation for quality. Her clients, she says, often tell her no one has ever gotten their homes as tidy as she has.

Perez began cleaning houses in 2002, when she worked for a Chicago house cleaning company. Starting out as a maid, she quickly rose through the ranks to become a supervisor of several new hires. Her job was to manage her subordinates’ schedules and ensure customers were satisfied with the company’s service.

By the time Perez and her family moved to New Jersey several years later, she had grown tired of working for a company. So she decided to start her own business, S.P. Cleaning. She works for several clients in Highland Park, North Brunswick and Franklin, and is looking to serve more customers throughout Middlesex County.

When it comes to cleaning houses, Perez does it all. She vacuums, cleans kitchens and bathrooms, cleans hardwood floors, takes out garbage, changes linen, and she’ll even clean windows — a service for which many other maid services charge extra, she says.

Perez’s clients know they can count on her. “They trust me,” she says, noting that she is sometimes asked to look after children and pets while cleaning houses.

Her rates for cleaning a house depend on its size. For apartments and small houses, she charges $80 per visit. For larger houses, the fee is $300 per visit. Perez can be reached by phone at (732) 249-1804, or by e-mail at

The Man with the Midas Touch

Comments (1) Posted By Joe on October 29, 2009 in Entrepreneur Directory
Elvis Mairena runs Brunswick Sports Rehab & Massage. He helps his clients — athletes or not — perform at their full potential.

Elvis Mairena runs Brunswick Sports Rehab & Massage. He helps his clients — athletes or not — perform at their full potential.

“I’m a sports guy,” says Elvis Mairena, “I know how you feel after a game.” Before coming to the United States, Mairena was a professional soccer player in his native Costa Rica. He now uses the power of sports massage to help clients reach their peak performance.

Through his business, Brunswick Sports Rehab & Massage, Mairena helps his customers recover from strenuous physical activity. Some have spent all day getting tackled on the field, and others have worked all day in an operating room. Athletes and non-athletes alike seek comfort through Mairena’s treatment.

His day job is with the Rutgers University Athletic Department, where he helps Scarlet Knights recover from injuries quickly so they can play at their full potential.
A few years ago, Mairena said, a Rutgers quarterback suffered an injury trainers thought would require surgery. The timing was bad — such a measure would have benched him from a bowl game. But once Mairena treated him, he felt good enough to play. Rutgers went on to win the game.

Many of the athletes Mairena serves like him so much that they keep him around after they graduate, sometimes after they go professional. Although athletes account for most of Mairena’s client base, he serves regular people, too.

Construction workers, for instance, often seek relief through his massages. So do surgeons who spend all day on their feet. He gets referrals, he says, from doctors in the area. They will sometimes tell a patient that although she may need surgery, she ought to try a sports massage, first, as it may obviate the need to go under the knife.

Having established himself as an expert masseuse in New Jersey, Mairena likes to give back to his native Costa Rica. Twice in the last few years, he has arranged for U.S. colleagues to accompany him to the Central American country to work in areas where medical resources are scarce.

Once, they visited Manos Abiertos, a refuge for children with disabilities. Mairena says a mother approached him with her 10-month-old, paralyzed son. After receiving  an hour of therapy from Mairena, the child began to crawl.

Brunswick Sports Rehab & Massage can be reached at (732) 668-4111. For an hour-long massage, Mairena charges $50 to $75. For students, the price is $40.

He’s Got a Deal for You

Comments (1) Posted By Joe on October 29, 2009 in Entrepreneur Directory
Pictured are some of many cosmetic products sold by James Crandell's JNC Wholesalers.

Pictured are some of many cosmetic products sold by James Crandell's JNC Wholesalers.

A few years ago, James Crandell was a mechanic specializing in forklifts and other heavy machinery. If you had told him then that he would wind up selling cosmetics, soaps and lotions, he would have thought you were crazy.

But the entrepreneurial spirit rears its head in unpredictable ways. When Crandell was laid off from his job as a mechanic, it ignited his lifelong desire to run his own business.

Luckily, it was around this time that some friends of his turned him on to a unique business opportunity: When companies like Dove or L’Oreal place products on the shelves of local stores, they do so on a trial basis. Products that sell quickly get to stay. Products that move more slowly are often taken off the shelves. Not because they are inferior to their quicker-selling counterparts, but because they are less popular.

This leaves warehouses in the region stuck with (literally) tons of products that they cannot sell. Their loss is Crandell’s gain: He and his business partners approach the managers of these warehouses and offer to buy their unwanted stock. Eager to reclaim the space, the managers will sell these products in bulk at a fraction of retail value.

In turn, Crandell can sell these products — including cosmetics, lotions, hair and skin care, organic shampoos, pajamas and protein shakes — for half of what they would cost in stores, reaping a decent profit along the way.

His success stems in part from the fact that his products — though not quite as popular as the ones that remain on shelves — often attract a following. He rents tables at outdoor markets throughout the state, and his customers on eBay (he is a PowerSeller) shop from throughout the United States and Europe.

Many of his overseas clients — anxious to bid on products they cannot find in their home countries —drive the auction price of Crandell’s products up to amounts that surprise even him.

But the most rewarding part of running his business, Crandell says, is saving people money in New Jersey. He develops a strong connection with his customers. “I love to see the look in their eyes,” he says, “when they see that there’s a place they can go to get a great deal for their families.”

Crandell can be reached at (908) 307-7236. His products are generally half off retail price.

Making Change Last

Comments (2) Posted By Joe on October 29, 2009 in Entrepreneur Directory

Karen Johnson's Karing Solutions helps non-profits secure funding and make a lasting impact.

As a freelance consultant, Karen Johnson works with groups who have the best of intentions for their communities. But good intentions only go so far. Without smart strategies for growth, grassroots groups can buckle under the weight of their own passion.

Johnson helps these organizations find the right ways to accomplish their goals, and to do so for a long time. “It’s one thing to want to do good,” she says, “it’s another thing to make it sustainable.”

When a community or church group seeks Johnson’s help, she sits down with its leaders to figure out what the group needs. Often, she says, groups can increase their impact by following a few simple steps: Making connections with government agencies and like-minded allies, creating a structure for their own organization, and measuring the outcomes of their work. Doing this, she says, allows them to raise more funds and serve more people.

One of Johnson’s most recent projects was helping to organize a health fair in Plainfield, New Jersey. A group with whom she worked wanted to let members of their community know about the health care resources available to them. The problem was that the group had no money and little manpower. With Johnson’s help, they reached out to local hospitals and corporations to have the event. Ultimately attracting 400 attendees, the fair was a smashing success.

Along with issues like education and gang-awareness, economic development is close to Johnson’s heart. Several years ago, she worked as a consultant to the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, a multi-million dollar project to revitalize Harlem. Johnson was in charge of making sure 2,000 neighborhood residents received job training. It wasn’t an easy task, but getting it done helped Johnson learn to manage the intricacies of large-scale projects, a skill she brings to the table in helping smaller, local groups.

In New Jersey, Johnson has helped organizations that provide anti-gang seminars, G.E.D. education programs, and affordable housing.

Johnson can be reached at (732) 648-3645. Her prices vary by organization.

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