Key City Vision Center, Dubuque

The Iowa Small Business Development Center at Northeast Iowa Community College helped Dr. Jeff Manternach and Mark Lewis obtain financing and set up their full service vision center by helping them develop a business plan and cash flows, plus provided additional advice on legal structure, profit splitting and more.

Dr. Jeff Manternach, an optometrist, and Mark Lewis, an optician, wanted to start the same type of business, so they both sought help from the Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC). With the help of the SBDC they eventually joined forces to form the Key City Vision Center in a newly restored historic building on Main Street in downtown Dubuque.

The two men had different but similar problems to solve in order to set up a full service vision center – Jeff needed an optician and support staff while Mark needed just the opposite. Another optician and mutual friend, Kelly Shurts, knew both men were trying to do the same thing and introduced them to each other. After they got to know each other, Jeff and Mark decided a partnership venture might be successful. Joining forces to start a company presented a new set of issues such as who would own the company, who would get paid how much, and how the company’s profits would be split.

Terry Sullivan, regional director of the SBDC, worked with Mark to finalize a viable, accurate business plan, plus produce cash flows and other financial statements for the business. After putting together several different scenarios on ownership, wages and profit sharing, it was decided that it would be best if Jeff owned the Vision Center and a separate agreement would be drawn up detailing Mark’s wages and profit sharing. Mark would be the manager of the Vision Center and Kelly Shurts was hired as the company’s third employee.

The SBDC used several accounting software packages, a financial analysis program called ProfitCents, and RMA Industry Benchmarks to develop the necessary three year projections they would need to submit with the business plan to the bank in order to obtain an SBA-guaranteed loan. The SBDC also used statistical information and a business plan inventory workbook in its library to help the men produce a feasible business plan.

Jeff invested twenty percent of his own capital and obtained an SBA-guaranteed loan from Dubuque Bank & Trust to start the business. Key City Vision Center opened with its three employees in late December 2012 and held its grand opening in early January 2013. The Center’s future economic impact through sales and wages is projected to be 40 to 50 thousand dollars in state and federal taxes. After its first three months of business the company was about ten percent ahead of its sales projections.

Mark and Jeff are very grateful for the quality assistance they received from the Iowa Small Business Development Center.  Mark says, “The assistance we received from the Iowa Small Business Development Center helped us to start our business and clarify how a business should operate. SBDC Director Terry Sullivan prepared several different budgets so we would be ready for any results – the good, the bad, and the ugly -for the next three years. Terry also properly advised us on many other aspects of a business – marketing, advertising, personnel, etc. – so we could get our bank loan approved, and we were approved within a week!”

Key City Vision Center provides first class optical care to customers in the surrounding Tri-State area. The business provides these services with the latest optical equipment available in the industry. Clients can interact with the optometrist, opticians and staff through the vision center’s website at, which provides secure access to their medical records, X-rays and prescriptions. Center staff also post regular updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Scroll to Top