Campus Connection Interviews Andrea Letham

image of andrea letham with sbdc logo and tvcc logo

Join us in getting to know TVCC SBDC Harney County Advisor Andrea Letham who became part of the professional team of business advisors in February 2020. In January of this year, Andrea also received recognition as Woman of the Year by Harney County Chamber of Commerce. Congratulations Andrea! We appreciate Andrea’s willingness to share more about who she is and her experience with small businesses.

What brought you to the TVCC SBDC? 
Funny story...I was thinking of opening a business and met with Chris Hollaway from TVCC SBDC. I had just retired from coaching cross country for several years and was going to be an empty nester very soon. I was looking for something that could be meaningful to me, where I could work with people and feel like I was helping make their life a little better. As I was talking to Chris, I said, “You know, I don't really want to open this business...I'm just kind of trying to figure out what to do with my life.” He asked me what my background was and so I told him. I hold a BS in Exercise Science and Health, but my whole adult life I have always worked in and helped small businesses. He smiled and asked if I would be interested in being an adviser for the SBDC. I didn't know what the SBDC even was, but quickly found out! The next week, I applied, interviewed, and was hired. I have loved getting to know more about the SBDC and love my TVCC family.

What is your real-world small business experience? 
My family owned a door manufacturing company in southeastern Oregon for many years. I worked in all aspects of the business from sanding panels, to running production. After marriage and college, my husband and I moved back to work in the business. It was there that I learned all about HR, employee management and workers comp. I worked with customers and vendors. I ordered and managed lumber. I assisted with production management and learned how to streamline processes in the office and in the plant. I soon moved on to bookkeeping and learned QuickBooks. I became an expert in "working in family businesses" and learned fabulous communication skills. ;) In a small business, you wear lots of hats...right? :) These skills helped me work with several other small businesses over the years to clean up their books, educate and train the owners and grow their businesses.  

What kind of transformation do you hope to see in your SBDC advising clients? 
I hope my clients can feel confident in understanding the numbers of their business and manage accordingly. 

If you could give one piece of advice (or a resource) to other SBDC Business Advisers, what would it be? 
I would say to be yourself and embrace the gifts you have to offer. I know my limitations and when I am working with a client who needs more than I know, I find them what they need. I often refer them to one of my SBDC colleagues so they can get expert advice and I can expand my skills. It's a win-win! 

How do you keep yourself knowledgeable and up to date on trends and industry standards in order to deliver the best quality of advising? 
I read and watch webinars often. I also ask a lot of questions. If I don't understand something, I will reach out to someone who does and get the answer. Many SBDC advisers have helped me tremendously. I also have worked closely and learned much from many partners. I think networking is KEY to success in small communities. My network of partners that continually train me are Business Oregon, The Foundry Collective, Harney County Economic Development and Biz Harney. 

What do you do for fun? 
Projects! I'm always building, organizing, or painting something. I also love to garden. It's an extreme sport in Harney County and I've become quite the green thumb. By far my most favorite thing to do is spend time with my family.  

TVCC SBDC Business Advisor Andrea Letham can be reached at (541) 417-0808 or by email: