Skip to Main Content Easy Reading Mode: Off
Site Search

SBDC Helps 1st Chance Garage Start Smoothly

When Dennis Kenny Jr. and his wife Kristen decided to open 1st Chance Garage between Cadillac and Lake City they turned to the Northwest Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for help with their business plan. Watch the video to find out more.



Dennis Kenny Jr. has worked on vehicles for much of his life including time as a mechanic and a teacher. His wife Kristen has a degree in business and has a variety of experience including owning her own business. In the fall of 2015 the Kennys decided to combine their knowledge and skills and go in to business together by opening 1st Chance Garage between Cadillac and Lake City.

“Her business background, coupled with my abilities out in the shop, turned out to be a great combination,” said Dennis.

“I get to advise without the pressure of directly being the owner of the business and support my husband in something he loves doing,” said Kristen.

While the Kennys had a lot of combined experience, they still felt like they needed some help getting their new business running smoothly, so they turned to the Northwest Michigan Small Business Development Center for help with their business plan.

“We ask some questions and push some issues that are flags that pop up as we’re reading through the business plan,” said SBDC Small Business Consultant Joni Krolczyk. “We really want to make sure that it’s valid and that it supports the success of the business.”

“With Joni’s help we were able to write a business plan and make connections to get the funding we needed,” said Kristen.

With a business plan and funding in place, 1st Chance Garage has gotten off to a strong start. The Kennys have already hired a full-time employee and say they’re six months ahead of where they expected to be.

“You can’t do it by yourself,” said Dennis. “The team is bigger than Kristen and me.”

“I don’t know that I could have gotten through it without Joni’s assistance,” said Kristen.

“Just one connection is all it takes to really get your confidence and overcome those fears and open your eyes a little bit to the possibility of success,” said Krolczyk.


Our Township greatly benefits from Network Northwest's experience, depth of knowledge and understanding. Because they work with so many diverse communities in our ten-county region they understand the local land-use issues and are already working on solutions by the time we realize we need some help.
- Susan Odom, Chair, Suttons Bay Township Planning Commission