Konowitz, Schafer lauded for commitment to Kent County business community

Herb Konowitz, left, is recognized by U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., for his U.S. Small Business Administration Lifetime Achievement Award. (Submitted photo/Herb Konowitz)

DOVER — Offering sage business advice in their early 80s, Herb Konowitz and Charles Schafer continue to boost local economic growth one small company at a time.

The U.S. Small Business Administration noticed, and presented both Kent County honorees a Lifetime Achievement Award on May 2 at DuPont Country Club in Wilmington for their contributions. U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., spoke at the event and traveled to Dover to personally present the awards.

Mr. Schafer has counseled approximately 270 clients since joining SCORE in 2009 after retiring to Kent County following a 32-year career as a mechanical engineer with manufacturing and management experience, plus owning his own consulting firm.

Mr. Konowitz worked with the family business Milford Stitching Company for 50 years, taking ownership in 1978 and providing work opportunity for over 1,000 employees and sometimes four family generations. He spent the last 12 years as a SCORE senior adviser, helping more than 36 businesses open in Kent County, including First State Manufacturing and Shorecare, adding hundreds of more names to the payroll.

The men continue to counsel anyone considering a small business launch or searching for the best path forward since opening.

Charles Schafer, left, receives his Lifetime Achievement Award from Sen. Chris Coons. (Submitted photo/Herb Konowitz)

Anywhere from two to 20 aspiring business owners may arrive for a Kent County Open for Business session the first Thursday of each month from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Kent County Levy Court building. The meeting is facilitated by the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce, among other local partners.

“We take on all comers and help with their questions and visions,” Mr. Konowitz said last week, opining that Kent County is a haven for networking and a good community to do business.

“It’s a one-stop operation designed to address any possible issue that can arise from running or seeking to run a small business. We’re there to help out anyone who walks in.”

Know the industry

Generally speaking, Mr. Konowitz doesn’t believe in starting a business with a credit card and “you’ve got to basically have enough for six months of funds no matter what happens.” Also, he advised that learning the job, industry or trade completely somewhere else before going it on your own.

“It’s a hands-on situation that’s not a 9 to 5 job and requires at least 60 to 70 hours a week if needed,” Mr. Konowitz said.

Herb Konowitz holds a framed portrait with his U.S. Small Business Administration Lifetime Achievement Award. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

“Someone in small business needs to know how to do everything that the job will require, whether it’s financing, personnel, management or production control. I loaded trucks at night when I started and ran a forklift throughout the building because somebody had to.”

Mr. Schafer echoed similar observations about credit and industry knowledge as musts for beginning a business. He believes a well thought-out business plan will succeed but it takes thorough analysis and understanding to create.

“If you don’t have any experience in the field you’re entering, you’re crazy to get into it,” he said.

An awards tribute to Mr. Schafer said he began with SCORE in April 2009 “to give back to the business world.” He’s been the group’s treasurer since 2010 and also served as secretary.

“Additionally, Charles has presented numerous classes and workshops for SCORE including the Boots to Business program, which assists soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines transition from military service to business ownership.”

Described as a “mainstay in the Delaware nonprofit arena for more than a decade,” Mr. Konowitz was noted for his more than 12 years with SCORE and time as president of the group.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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