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I Need Your FaceBook Vote for a $250K Small Business Grant

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I Need Your Vote for a

$250K Small Business Grant

Thanks to a program sponsored by Chase and LivingSocial called Mission: Small Business℠, your support could translate into a $250,000 grant for Phoenix Specialty Coatings! 

I need at least 250 votes at Go to their site, find Phoenix Specialty Coatings' application and give me your thumb!  At least 250 votes are required to even be considered for a nomination. Of those applications receiving the minimum required votes, up to 12 $250,000 grants will be awarded to provide small businesses with capital and marketing resources needed to make a positive impact on their business.

There's 33 days left to vote and as of this writing -- 5 days after my application was filed -- I'm exactly halfway with 125. Please don't blow this off.

The application is blunt and to-the-point and each section has a 500 word limit. Among other factors, interaction with the business' community is a vital component to securing a nomination. 

Since PSC is out in the sticks as most of you know, and since most of my business comes from members, I featured "FABO" as my community. I have included my entire application below for you to check over. I want your support but I also want you to know exactly what it is you're going to be supporting here.

This is a link to the formal press release if you wish to learn more about the grant program:

The only drawback is that voters must be FaceBook users. It's fast and free to register just like RacingJunk so if you don't have an account, please open one even if just for this special occasion. I've always tried to be here for you ... I'd appreciate it very much if ya'll could be here for me on this one. 

Thanks in advance for your support!  My friends and customers here on RJ have all been a part of PSC's past success ... and I'm honored to take you along into its future as well.

Leanna ~ The CudaChick
1968 Barracuda Fastback 340


* * *

Owner first name Leanna 
middle L 
Owner Last Name Johnson 
Business email [email protected] 
Business phone number 731.613.9192 
Business website
Facebook webpage address for your business 
Business twitter handle
State of certification/residence TN 
Other DBA business names (None)
Type of business entity partnership 
Number Of Employees 2 
Number of years in business 5 

Tell us about your business; how successful is it and why is it unique?

Phoenix Specialty Coatings opened on May 31, 2007 following our relocation to Tennessee after Hurricane Katrina. Now as a custom one-off / Mopar specialist and one of very few female powder coaters in the country, I mainly work for hot rodders and Harley guys (though any metal can cross my bench at times). Customers ship parts from one end of the U.S. to the other including Alaska and Hawaii, with a few from Canada and overseas as well.

PSC is one of the few powder coating shops to complete a single piece of metal in multiple colors -- two, three and four-color jobs are not unusual. The distinctive results and notoriety as a rare Mopar specialist have brought very selective and diverse customers to my doorstep, and no two jobs are alike. I am presently working on my first job for a retired NASCAR driver and recently finished one for a published author with a title-winning dragster despite the fact I have not formally advertised. I work strictly via word of mouth and have a website with decent page rankings.

The vast majority of my work comes from an automotive message board comprised of people with cars like mine, an old Barracuda street rod. I've had 15 or more jobs here at any given time for over 3 years mainly because of the 24,000+ members, and can now thank several hundred as past customers. The turn-around time could definitely improve with some extra help but it's just not in the budget at the moment.

As if one natural disaster in a lifetime wasn't enough, on April 20, 2011 an F2 tornado dropped a 75-foot oak tree on the south wall of the shop, putting us out of business for over five months as the repairs were underway. A number of upgrades were also put into place at that time including terrific new insulation, structures on the north / south side for additional storage and a ceiling-mounted spray rack for my coating work. Other plans are still just that ... for the time being. But I'm confident that continued hard work and dedication will ensure its success and expansion well into the future.

How is your business involved with the community you serve? 

I live in a very small farming community and have few agricultural interests. As a result, my business is internet based with few local customers.

I have been a member of my online community,, for over 7 years and am one of its original members. I joined as an enthusiast (I've owned my old hot rod since 1991), but became a formal site Vendor after launching PSC in 2007. I enjoy answering the members' questions about the powder coating industry and my processes, and sharing tips to get the most for their money and the best results on their cars. Although I would never claim so personally (because in my opinion that's the day you quit learning anything new!), I am regarded as the site's resident powder coating expert and questions are routinely and openly referred to me, CudaChick1968. PSC has also been called "FABO's powder coating shop" more often than not, and no other coating shop is a registered site Vendor.

I spearheaded a contest idea on FABO in late 2009 to support the automotive hobby's future, "Young Guns -- Sign In and Win!" [] asking FABO members ages 25 and under to share their story and photos about how they got involved in the hobby. I offered up a $100 PSC Gift Certificate to a randomly-drawn winner. Much to my surprise, 26 other members offered up prizes ranging from motors and transmissions to handmade craftsmanship and the contest took on a life of its own, lasting nine months and awarding 9 young car owners three great prizes each! The goodwill and comraderie generated as a result has spawned two other FABO Young Guns benefit contests since then, all designed to help the youngsters get their cars going and fulfill their dreams.

In 2009, I started the FABO Members' Map. It has evolved into an extremely viable resource to assist the membership in finding each other, arranging get-togethers, locating mechanical assistance and making local parts deals a reality for an otherwise internet-based message board. Since its inception, several regional and international A Body Clubs have organized.

FABO is mainly my home away from home ... and without those guys I wouldn't be here. I'll never stop contributing in any way I can to a great motorhead website.

What would a $250k grant mean to your business plan and how will you utilize the funds to ensure long-term growth and stability? 

Rather than continue to be relegated to my quarter of a 30x40 building (which is mainly my partner's engine building / restoration shop), PSC would expand into larger quarters on our 5 1/2 acre property to the east of its present location, closer to Highway 45E for more parking and greater public exposure. Its highly upgraded blasting facility -- ahhhh, an 8-foot blast cabinet finally! -- would then be separately housed (since media dust can be a problem), along with a small office / computer area to free up space in the house.

Additional quality personnel would be sought not only to help me out with the currently slow turn around time, but to learn and carry on my distinctive mutli-color work which has been a main facet of my business. I'm not getting any younger and my daughter has other interests. I would love to pass my knowledge and experience on preferably to a qualified female apprentice, since girls are rare in this business and the reputation of the shop has mainly been built on female expertise.

Any remaining funds not immediately earmarked for upgraded equipment purchases, relocation / construction and operating expenses would be invested per a professional financial advisor's recommendations.

What types of challenges can you identify with your plan and how will you overcome them? 

With the added responsibility of personnel / payroll and a larger facility, finding a qualified shop manager would be paramount ... or else I would have to give up the work I so love to do myself and concentrate solely on running the business and keeping it focused on growth and future development. 

Before hanging my shingle and starting powder coating full time, I worked for lawyers for 20 years as a paralegal / legal secretary. Since then, I've taught myself everything about running my own business successfully so far -- with thankfully lots of "ups" and very few "downs" -- and have no intentions of changing that approach in the future. As obstacles arise, they are addressed and overcome just as successes are broadcast and celebrated. 

I cannot claim to know all there is to know about making PSC an overwhelming success well into the future. For those times when professional advice is required to that end, it will be enlisted and fully utilized.

Describe the talent on your team and how they make your business successful. 

Billy Lee, Partner ~ Prep work / blasting, metal repairs, welding, fabrication, parts jigs, shop maintenance. He also runs Lee Restorations / Engine Building and enjoys working on the locals' compact tractors, motorcycles and 4-wheelers.

Leanna Johnson, The CudaChick ~ Known to my customers and members as the "Mistress of Metal," I am PSC's owner / operator handling prep and restoration work, powder coating and finishing, customer service, website creation and maintenance, billing, promotion, and everything else that needs to be done.

From the PSC Feedback page, a few of the adjectives used to describe the results are awesome, fantastic, perfect, outstanding and impeccable. We must be doing something right! 

Additional relevant information you would like to share 

Until I heard about the Mission: Small Business program on FaceBook, I have never before considered applying for any kind of outside assistance with my business even from the federal government. The distinctive approach and willingness to help those like me is what most impressed me about the program and why I am sitting here taking time away from my shop in typing this right now. Knowing that real people are on the other end of this exchange who are considering my contribution is invaluable in this day and age of impersonal computer-generated communications, especially in the business world. Thank you for standing apart from the rest -- it's one of those things I try to do every day and I admire it when I see it in others.



May 28, 2012 | 
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