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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Sisters Lora Mata, left, and Margaret Fry of MarLo Business Services streamlined operations in 2013.
Business spotlight

Secretarial business grows space by 50 percent

MarLo Business Services Inc.

Address: 202 W. Berry St., Suite 500, inside the Fifth Third Bank building

At a glance: A secretarial service offering telephone answering, word processing and related tasks to attorneys, various companies and individuals.

Employees: Three

Annual revenue: $150,000

When was the company founded: 1996

Biggest accomplishment in the past 12 months: Relocating from the sixth and seventh floors to the fifth floor, which increased MarLo’s space by 50 percent to 15,000 square feet. The move helped streamline operations that previously were spread between two floors. While the business lost a major client, the majority of its customers remained.

What was your biggest mistake in operating this business: President Margaret Fry and Vice President Lora Mata say they would probably have begun their business on a single floor. “From a logistic standpoint, it just makes sense,” Fry said. She said having two floors left some workers alone, which sometimes hindered communication.

What are the key challenges facing your business or industry: The economy is affecting attorneys, Fry said, and that hurts MarLo’s business as well. Many people are willing to do some legal work themselves, such as divorces. “It’s hard to hang your shingle when you have people trying to save money,” Fry said. It proves the economy is still on the mend, she said. “Hopefully, with Ash Brokerage opening across the street that will help our business.”

What is your strategy for staying ahead of your competition: Trying to do a better job than everybody else and being efficient, as far as providing clients with a clean work product.

What resources have you found most helpful in running a business: Fry said she and Mata learned from the business’ previous owner Phyllis Gunderson. She showed them the ropes and wanted the two to succeed. The company was called Valentine Gunderson Enterprises.

What are your growth projections for the next five years: 2 percent increase in sales each year.

What is one thing about your business that people might not be aware of: Many companies mistakenly think MarLo only does work for clients inside the Fifth Third Bank building. Others have the misconception that MarLo solely contracts with corporate or professional clients. “We do work for individuals as well,” Fry said.

If you weren’t running this business, what would you be doing: Pursuing a law degree.

Source: President Margaret Fry Compiled by Paul Wyche of The Journal Gazette Business Spotlight profiles small businesses that are at least three years old and have 100 or fewer employees. To recommend a business, email the name of the company and the name and phone number of a contact person to or fax to 461-8893.