Dale Morton, owner of Dale Morton Studio Mascot Costumes, has been making costumes for nearly 20 years. The highly detailed custom creations coming out of his small studio in Hurricane, W.Va., have graced football fields and theater stages, entertained celebrities and professional athletes and been used in marketing campaigns for small businesses and large corporations. And for the last two years, he’s been working with the West Virginia Small Business Development Center to grow his business.
Finding a business coach
Like anyone who has been in business for almost two decades, Morton has gone through the ups and downs of being a small business owner. At one time, Morton has two full time and part time workers helping him create mascots and costumes. But the volume of work kept everyone so busy Morton couldn’t keep his website updated and business began to decline.
“I connected with my business coach, Doug Spaulding, at a Hurricane Development Authority Meeting and remember being impressed with how he immediately took an interest in my work,” Morton said. “He took the time to come by the studio and learn more about the business.”
Morton’s studio is filled with molds and finished costume heads and masks. Each piece is hand-crafted by Morton from several materials, like fiberglass, foam or papier-mâché. From Marco at Marshall University to caricature versions of famous golfers at the PGA Tour, each mascot and costume Morton has created is a unique work of art. But no matter how talented a person may be, owning a small business can be challenging.
Overcoming challenges with help from the SBDC
Starting a business isn’t a walk in the park. For instance, the Internet is a major source of work for small business owners like Morton. But keeping up with the speed of a web-based economy is a challenge. That’s where the advice of a SBDC business coach can help.
“It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, never be too proud to ask for help,” Morton said. “There’s always someone who is older, wiser and more experienced.”
Morton said the SBDC helped him find an accountant and connected him with the Robert C. Byrd Institute, which helped him secure a grant from Advantage Valley to update his website and attend a trade show. Through RCBI, Morton also has access to state-of-the-art resources that will help improve his mascot and costume making process.
“The SBDC has been fantastic to work with,” Morton said. “Doug has given me a lot of good advice that I’ve been able to adapt to what I do. I 100 percent recommend their services for small business owners.”
The West Virginia Small Business Development Center supports small businesses through one-on-one coaching, training and facilitating connections to resources. Learn more about how a business coach can help your business by visiting wvsbdc.com/coaches.