Great ideas and great commitment make these businesses, run by Smith School
alumni, shine. Up-and-comers in their respective industries, they’ve already
gained attention from local media, and are well worth watching!
Spotlight: Annapolis Contracting, Inc.
Pamela Volm ’92, president of Annapolis Contracting, Inc., has achieved
success in a field where women are few and far between: construction. Her
company provides residential and commercial wood framing in the Baltimore and
Washington, D.C., metropolitan area for national homebuilders such as Pulte and
Ryan, as well as local contractors.
Over the years, she has worked hard with builders to earn their trust. “As a
female in construction, you really have to put that time in to show people that
you are competent and reliable,” says Volm. “For the first five to seven years
that was very important.”
Volm is active with the Chesapeake Chapter of Associated Builders and
Contractors as well as the national ABC association. One of her goals is to
provide networking opportunities for other women in the industry. “I’m always
looking to help women who are coming into the construction industry avoid the
pitfalls new companies face,” she says.
Volm spends most of her time on project oversight and management, but she
does make the time to swing a hammer for Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit
organization that builds affordable housing in partnership with people in need.
One of the projects she remembers most fondly is the “First Lady’s Build,” which
had Francis Glendenning, at the time First Lady of Maryland, as its chairperson.
Volm’s favorite moment during the build was handing the homeowner the keys to
It was an experience Volm will never forget. “Actually working with the
homeowner to build the house, and then handing her the keys to her home at the
end, was probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” says Volm. “Even
today if I’m walking through Annapolis and the homeowner sees me, she’ll cross
the street and come give me a hug. Knowing what a difference that house made in
her life is just the best feeling.”
Volm has used her business savvy on behalf of the Smith School as a judge of
case competitions. But the sharing of expertise has gone both ways. Volm does
extensive volunteer work with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a
nonprofit group that advocates for abused and special needs children in the
foster care system. Rebecca Hamilton, associate professor of marketing, and two
of her classes of MBA students helped develop a marketing and branding strategy
for CASA. Volm was thrilled with the experience and pleased that the Smith
School was able to help a cause dear to her heart.
Volm, like many other small business owners, has felt the impact of the
economic downturn. She has begun shifting her company’s focus from residential
construction, which had been the heart of the business, to more commercial
construction. She has also had to cut costs; her shop, which had 43 employees a
year ago, is now down to 22 employees. It was painful for Volm to lay off
workers who felt like family, but she knew that some difficult decisions would
be necessary to keep her company afloat.
“We’ve been hit hard. It’s a tough time to get through, but I always go back
to what I learned at the Smith School,” says Volm. “I will never forget sitting
in class and doing case studies, talking about companies that made tough
decisions early enough, and made the changes that would allow their businesses
Get in Touch! Contact information for Pamela Volm is available on the
Smith eAlumni Network.
More Smith Alumni Businesses
Amanda Nachman was a rising senior English major at the University of
Maryland, interning for two publications, when she decided to found a magazine
for undergraduates. Her experiences at TERP Magazine, dedicated to university
alumni, and Washington Business Magazine gave her the insight she needed into
“I really loved the magazine process,” Nachman says. “I thought it was a
creative process, and I said to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to find a magazine
relevant to students like me?’”
Inspired to start the business as a project for an entrepreneurship class,
Nachman pitched her business idea to the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.
After her May 2007 graduation, she moved to College Magazine full-time and has
since been able to expand its circulation to seven universities in the
Mid-Atlantic region. Nachman’s first edition in 2007 offered 5,000 copies, and
today, 30,000 copies reach undergraduates at eight regional universities.
The youngest of three children, Nachman describes herself as “the kind of kid
who always tried to turn things into a business venture.” From her first
business at 8 years old (selling clay outfits for Troll dolls) to College
Magazine, Nachman sees her publication someday becoming the “first choice” for
college students. As part of her vision, she hopes to grow an online presence
for the magazine.
Anik Singal began his entrepreneurial journey as a young child,
unsuccessfully attempting to convince his father to purchase a gas station.
Initially a pre-med student at UMBC, he decided to transfer to Smith to study
finance and start his own business, graduating in 2005.
Affiliate Classroom initially offered specialized training on a subscription
basis to individuals who hope to start their own businesses by selling and
endorsing others’ products. Today, it has moved into training technology, using
e-learning systems, and has branched out to move from content to technology and
“Some of the biggest companies online, this is how they get most of their
online sales, through their affiliate market,” Singal says. “People who are
affiliated with them are sending them traffic and collecting commissions.
Affiliate Classroom’s job is to train both sides of the market on how to do
their jobs better.”
Affiliate Classroom’s latest product launch implements its newest e-learning
technology to teach students how to use Yahoo!, Google and MSN’s advertising
network to gain exposure. The product surpassed past launches by 40 percent and
has opened great pathways for the company.
Singal, a self-described “entrepreneur, not manager,” hopes to build the
company and exit within three to five years to develop other business ideas. He
also hopes to begin “giving back” through more non-profit-focused work, and is
developing relationships with non-profit organizations for the future.