U.S. Small Business Institute

 Volunteers serving small businesses and charitable foundations...since 1985!        

The SBI Story

SBI supports the SBA 'Small Business Week' in 1987 in Washington, DC with their

'Help Keep the SBA Alive'

Rally & Campaign


   The U.S. Small Business Institute (SBI), which was initially named the Small Business Coalition (SBC) of Missouri, was launched in 1985 by a core group of small business owners and their top-tier executives in St. Louis, MO who formed a partnering effort as a small business advocacy group. We changed our name to SBI when our SBC Honorary Chair, MO State Representative Jack Buechner, became a U.S. Congressman in 1987. Our leadership quickly garnered support from over 300 members and initially became a small business advocacy group, which was headquartered in St. Louis, MO at the office of American Marketing Group, Inc. one of its first Founding Sponsors. We were originally established to help keep the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) stay intact with our 'Help Keep the SBA Alive!' campaign that started by supporting the SBA District Director, Robert L. Andrews, and his team in St. Louis. The effort spread quickly throughout the bi-state St. Louis Region, then throughout the Midwest and eventually across the United States with a multitude of other small business support groups in over 100 metropolitan areas who were SBA backers and staunch supporters. The U.S. Government was in the process of  'down sizing or totally eliminating' some of their Federal Agency's and the SBA became a target of a Congressional faction and was to be completely dismantled. Our local small business campaign gained political support in our region and state, plus the effort received local, regional and national press and attention. By the year-end of 1986 U.S. President Ronald Reagan lobbied Congress and they finally kept the SBA in place by simply downsizing it from over eight thousand employees to under four thousand and put the SBA in a position to guarantee private bank and non-bank loans for small business start-ups and expansion. Plus, they gave it more power and raised the ceiling on all of the SBA 'Loan Guarantee Programs' (LGP). The three LGP categories are namely the SBA 7 (a) LGP for start-ups and business expansion loans that were increased to $5M, the SBA 504 LPG for fixed asset financing of real estate and business equipment and machinery was taken up to $5.5M and the SBA MicroLoan LGP loans rose to $50K in order to rebuild or repair damaged property

   Thus, the SBA was right-sized and given its new mission which continues to this day. Small business is the work-horse and economic engine that drives America's economy, plus employs 55% of Americas 146M individuals that make up our full and part time workforce. Also, we must keep in mind that every big business that is publicly traded in today's market place was launched by a person with an idea, who then started a small business, grew it into a medium size firm and worked it into the list of big companies that are traded on the NYSE, NASDAQ or the S&P 500. International Business Machines became IBM and covers our planet, McDonald's grew from one unit to over thirty four thousand world-wide and the list goes on...all Goliath's were once David's.

   In 1987 John William 'Jack' Buechner, who received his law degree from Saint Louis University, was a MO State Representative for ten years and was appointed the SBC's 'Honorary Chairman' for 1986-87 was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1987 in part due to the support that was given to his race by the SBC's 'Back Jack' campaign. Once U.S. Congressman Jack Buechner positioned himself in Washington, DC we updated our name to the U.S. 'Small Business Institute' (SBI). Our SBI team now had a national spokesperson for our bi-state small business advocacy group that had expanded to cover the entire St. Louis Region, which encompasses the City of St. Louis and its fifteen surrounding counties that is home to 193K businesses, 2.8M residents, over 1K charities and has become the 18th. largest economic engine in the U.S.

   The SBA chose Rich Pisani as the SBA 'Small Business Man of the Year - 1987' in the State of Missouri for his untiring campaign effort  to 'Help Keep the SBA Alive!', as well as had a positive impact on adding new jobs in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area. Rich worked closely with his two partners Steve Caby and Mike Clayton on every aspect of the SBI effort and a new jobs program. The three men had a very successful franchise launch of the St. Louis based Italian restaurant concept called The Pasta House Co. They started with six existing company owned restaurants in 1983 that employed 300 workers and with the help of the SBA 7 (a) loan guarantee program propelled their expansion to over twenty in the St. Louis Region with over 1200 employees. This business expansion allowed the chain to dominate their market place and stave off national competitors that were entering their arena. The franchise expansion required an investment of over $650K per location in a leased space. Their base of employees grew from 300 to over 1200. in St. Louis Region, which included franchise units in both the states of Missouri and Illinois. Every franchise unit that was opened secured bank financing with an SBA 7 (a) guaranteed loan.This is one of the finest examples of why SBI campaigned so eagerly to 'Help Keep the SBA Alive!" Because of this journey, Rich, his two business partners and the core group of SBI Co-Founders  proudly served as volunteers on the St. Louis SBA District Offices 'Advisory Board' and chaired or co-chaired SBA's 'Small Business Week' in Missouri for three years in the late eighties to support the SBA District Director, Robert L. Andrews, and his entire staff. The SBA truly made a positive impact on small business and new-employee expansion in our St. Louis Region.

   Our SBI 'Business Advisors' team continues to help SBI 'Clients' who operate small company's by volunteering their time for business consulting, coaching and mentoring. On March 14, 2002 SBI joined forces with the Saint Louis Ambassadors and helped create, develop and launch an all-volunteer group named the Saint Louis Ambassadors '1904 World's Fair Charitable Foundation' with neatly one thousand attendees who helped launch this newly formed all-volunteer 501 (c) (3) public charity (FEIN #43-1967243), which raises funds for the Forest Park 'beautification program', the St. Louis Zoo and other local charities. This exciting event was held at the newly remodeled Chase Park Plaza Hotel in their Starlight Ballroom, which overlooks Forest Park and the entire St. Louis Region. This spectacular occasion was emceed by KMOV TV 4's news anchors, Julius Hunter and Vicki Newton, and included speeches by MO Governor Bob Holden, St. Louis City Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis County Executive 'Buzz' Westfall,  Archbishop Justin Rigali, Saint Louis Ambassador President Frank Ferrara and a host of other local VIP's from the TV, Radio, Sports and Business arena, Our new charity's first mission was to host or co-host a litany of celebratory events that would salute the '100 Year Anniversary' of the 1904 World's Fair and III Olympics, which was held in what we now call Forest Park and the Washington University campus. That night also marked 

SBI's commitment to extend our advisory and counseling services - at no charge - to charitable foundation advisory boards and their leaders who needed the same type of  consulting, coaching and mentoring, but simply couldn't afford it due to the financial challenges they were facing. Hence, we are 'volunteers serving small businesses and charitable foundations...since 1985' and were very proud of it.

   If you have any questions or would like to join our effort and 'help us help others' you can directly contact our SBI Chairman, Cicardi Bruce, at 314-941-0779 or our SBI President, Rich Pisani, at 314-952-2640. SBI continues to office with our founding sponsor, American Marketing Group, Inc. in the Merrill Lynch building in west county at 400 Chesterfield Center, Suite 400, Chesterfield MO, 63017, which is located next to the Hyatt & Drury Plaza Hotel located directly in front of Chesterfield Mall.

SBI Timeline & Pictorial

(The launch, the effort and successful conclusion!)

Photo: (L/R) January of 1985 with KMOV TV-4 News Anchor, Ms. Mary Phelan

Rich Pisani - SBC Co-Founder & President, Mary Phelan - SBC Honorary Chairwoman, Robert L. Harris - SBC Chairman

   The 'Small Business Coalition' (SBC) of Missouri launches in St. Louis with a mission to 'Help Keep the SBA Alive!'. KMOV-TV news anchor and SBC Honorary Chairwoman for 1985, Ms. Mary Phelan, reads SBC's mission statement to a standing-room-only lunch crowd at the City of St. Louis' Sheraton Hotel with help from Rob Harris, the President of MO State Bank & Trust and the first Chairman of the Small Business Coalition (SBC).

Launch of the 'Help Keep the SBA Alive!' effort in St. Louis, MO.

Photo: (L/R incl.) January of 1986 with MO State Rep Jack Buechner who was elected the SBC Honorary Chairman

Jack Buechner, Kay Tanzberger, Bill Nolan, Rob and Jackie Harris, Mark Lammert, Mike Schneider and Dick Mueller

   The 'Small Business Coalition (SBC) elects Candidate for the U.S. Congress, MO State Representative Jack Buechner, as the SBC's new Honorary Chairman. The SBC also launches their 'Back Jack' Buechner for Congress campaign to help secure a small business advocate, spokesperson and ombudsman in Washington, DC...Jack Buechner! 

Launch of the 'Back Jack' Buechner for Congress in St. Louis.

Photo: (L/R) November of 1986 with REK Industries President, Ralph Kaufman

Christine Bierman, Ralph Kaufman and Norene Flaerty

   The 'Small Business Coalition' (SBC) hosts an SBC 'Business After Hours', which was sponsored by REK Industries. The SBC backed REK's President, Ralph Kaufman, for the 'SBA Business Man of the Year - 1989' and he won!

The SBC hosted monthly 'Business After Hours' for members.

Photo: (L/R) January of 1985 with MO Governor Christopher 'Kit' Bond

Missouri Governor Christopher 'Kit' Bond with Co-Founder and SBC President, Rich Pisani


   Missouri Governor 'Kit' Bond backed our 'Help Keep the SBA Alive' effort in 1985. Conversely, he was supported by the Small Business Coalition (SBC) of Missouri for his run for U.S. Senate in 1986 and won the election. The SBA became a target for total dismantling by Congress, but because of the SBC effort and the untiring support from U.S. Senator 'Kit' Bond it  is still - to this day - a great support to small businesses across America.

Launch of the 'Help Keep the SBA Alive!' effort in Jeff City, MO.

Photo: (L/R) October of 1986 with STL SBA Director, Robert L. Andrews

The SBA District Director for St. Louis, Bob Andrews, becomes the SBC Honorary Co-Chairman

   The Small Business Administration (SBA), the Small Business Coalition (SBC) and the Regional Commerce & Growth Association (RCGA) again sponsor the annual SBA 'Small Business Week -1987' kick-off luncheon. SBA's Bob Andrews introduces the candidates of each category of entrepreneurs in the St. Louis Region, including Rich Pisani for the 'SBA Small Business Man of the Year - 1987'.

Launch with 'Small Business Week - 1987' team in St. Louis.

Photo: (L/R) December of 1986 with WGNU-AM radio station owner, Chuck Norman

Rich Pisani, Bernard Engles and Chuck Norman

The WGNU radio station owner in St. Louis, Chuck Norman, is a small business operator and joins the Small Business Coalition (SBC) effort to 'Help Keep the SBA Alive!' His station was funded by an SBA guaranteed loan and he understood their value.

The Annual WGNU Holiday Party in 1986 for small businesses.

 Photo: (L/R) May of 1987 with U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond

U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond, Susan Wilson and Rich Pisani

   U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond salutes the efforts of Rich Pisani 

the President of American Marketing Group, Inc. in St. Louis for positioning his firm as one of the six founding co-sponsors of the U.S Small Business Institute that helped ultimately 'Helped Keep the SBA Alive!'

   The U.S. Senator also congratulated Rich Pisani who was chosen by the SBA as the 'MO Small Business Man of the Year - 1987' and for a job well done with the SBI team for its support of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Senator Thurmond salutes SBA's 'Small Business Week - 1987'.

Photo: (L/R) May of 1987 with Congressman Jack Buechner

U.S. Congressman Jack Buechner and SBI Co-Founder and

President, Rich Pisani

   Newly elected U.S. Congressman Jack Buechner meets with the Co-Founder & President of the St. Louis 'Small Business Coalition' (SBC) to officially change its name to the U.S. Small Business Institute (SBI)  Since SBC's Honorary Chairman was Congressman Jack Buechner our organization had a spokesperson for small business in Washington. Congressman Jack Buechner congratulated

Rich for being selected by the SBA as the 'MO Small Business Man of the Year - 1987'.

Congressman Jack Buechner and Rich Pisani in Washington, DC

 Photo: (L/R) May of 1987 with U.S. Senator John Glen

Rich Pisani with  NASA Astronaut & U.S. Senator, John Glenn

   U.S. Senator John Glenn salutes Rich Pisani and his firm in St. Louis, Missouri, American Marketing Group, Inc., for launching the U.S. Small Business Institute with the help of MO Congressman Jack Buechner. Also, Senator Glenn congratulates Rich for being selected by the SBA as the 'MO Small Business Man of the Year - 1987', as well as congratulated Rich's partners, H. Stephen Caby and Wm. Michael Clayton for their untiring support.

Senator John Glenn was a staunch supporter of the SBI effort.

Photo: May of 1987 with NFIB leader Mr. William Armstrong

Mr. William Armstrong and Rich Pisani


   The National Federation of Independent Business 'Small Business Council' Chairman, Mr. William Armstrong, launches the annual 'Small Business...Americas Growth Industry!' symposium as part of the SBA's 'Small Business Week'. He introduces Rich Pisani as a guest speaker to present and explain the 'Help Keep the SBA Alive!' campaign, which started as a local effort by the 'Small Business Coalition' (SBC) in St. Louis, MO in 1985, then gained momentum in the Midwest Region in 1986 and spread nationally to succeed in Washington, DC in 1987 with a rally of thousands of entrepreneurs who were SBA advocates and supporters.

The two men support the 'Help Keep the SBA Alive!' effort in DC.

Photo: (L/R) May of 1987 with U.S. Senator Bob Dole

SBA's William Jennings, U.S. Senator Bob Dole, Rich Pisani, Susan Wilson and NFIB leader, Mr. William Armstrong

   U.S. Senator Bob Dole meets with William Jennings, the Small Business Administration Deputy Director, Rich Pisani the President of the U.S. Small Business Institute, and NFIB leader William Armstrong to help launch SBA's 'Small Business Week - 1987'. Dole congratulated the SBI team for sponsoring a national effort started in St. Louis in 1985 to 'Help Keep the SBA Alive!'. Senator Dole and congratulated Rich Pisani for being selected as the SBA 'MO Small Business Man of the Year - 1987'.

Launch of SBA 'Small Business Week - 1987' in Washington, DC

Photo: (L/R) May of 1987 with U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy

U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy and SBI President Rich Pisani


   U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy sends his famous 'congratulatory wave' to Rich Pisani and his entire SBI team of rally supporters that were present for their 'Rally for the SBA' for a job well done. Senator Ted Kennedy, along with support from Congressman, Jack Buechner, gained bipartisan support that helped the U.S. Small Business Institute gain national attention and achieve their goal, which was  to - and still is - to 'Help Keep the SBA Alive!'

Senator Kennedy congratulates the SBI effort to help the SBA.

Photo: (L/R) May of 1987 in Washington, DC with SBA Deputy Director, Mr. William Jennings

SBA's 'Small Business Council' Chairwoman, Ms. Denise Albright, SBI Co-Founder & President Rich Pisani, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) leader Mr. William Armstrong, SBI Co-Founder & Exec. V.P. Susan Wilson and the SBA Deputy Director Mr. William Jennings.

   Rich Pisani executes the name change of the group from the St. Louis 'Small Business Coalition' (SBC) in May of 1987 to the U.S. 'Small Business Institute' (SBI) during  'Small Business Week' sponsored by the Small Business Administration (SBA) in Washington, DC.

   SBI's Honorary Chairman, Congressman Jack Buechner, had won his race in Missouri and was now able to be an advocate for small businesses in the St. Louis Metro Area, the Great State of Missouri and in the United States Congress, which is why we updated our namesake.

Photo: (L/R) 8-7-15

Rich Pisani - SBI President, Congressman Lacy Clay, Jr and Mark Kasen - SBI Board Member

   In return of Congressman Clay's support of small business in the St. Louis Region, SBI supported the 30 Annual Scholarship & Research Foundation Gala at the Polish Cathedral in the City of St. Louis with over 350 attendees.

Emeritus: SBI Honorary Leaders

Cong. Jack Buechner, Esq. (ret.)

SBI Hon. Chairman Emeritus

  • St. Louis University Law School 1963 - 1965: St. Louis, MO    
  • Hon. SBI Chairman Emeritus: 1987 - 1991: St. Louis & DC
  • U.S. Congressman - Missouri: 1987 - 1991 Washington, DC    
SBA Dist. Dir. Bob Andrews (ret.)

SBI Hon. Co-Chairman Emeritus

  •  SBA St. Louis District Director (1972 - 2003)
  •  Hon. SBI Co-Chair Emeritus: 1986 - 1991: St. Louis, MO
  •  American Marketing Group, Inc. Adv. Board (2005 - current)

SBI Officers


  • John Burroughs High School in             St. Louis, Missouri
  • University of Arizona: Business             and Finance 
    • St. Louis University: Center for            Entrepreneurial Studies   


Cicardi A. Bruce

Chairman & CEO


  • Bruce-Burgess Printing, Inc.: President & CEO 
  • Bruce-Johnson Printing, Inc.: President & CEO
  • Saint Louis Ambassadors: Board of Directors
  • St. Louis County Port Authority: Chairman
  • Squires & Ladies Charitable Foundation: Chairman
  • 1904 Foundation 'Lifetime Achievement Award' - 2010
  • 1904 World's Fair Charitable Foundation: Chairman 
  • American Marketing Group, Inc.: Chairman 
  • SLU 'Center for Entrepreneurial Studies' Advisor 
  • U.S. Small Business Institute: Chairman & CEO


  • Bishop DuBourg High School in           St. Louis, Missouri
  • Southeast MO State University:           BS/BA Marketing Mgt.
  • St. Louis University:  Business
  • Price - Babson Fellowship in                 Entrepreneurial Studies


Richard T. Pisani

President & COO


SBI Co-Founders

Mr. Richard J. Mueller

  • SBI: Co-Founder '85 & Business Advisor
  • Saint Louis Ambassadors: Adv. Board
  • 1904 World's Fair Charitable Foundation

       - Founding Charter Member in 1985

  • FranSelect: Founder & President

Hon. Vicki Schneider

  • SBI: Co-Founder '85 & Business Advisor
  • Saint Louis Ambassadors - Adv. Board
  • 1904 World's Fair Charitable Foundation
       - Founding Charter Member in 1985
  • Schneider Construction: Founder/Pres.

Other Co-Founders


Rob Harris, President

Missouri State Bank

Joe Danklef, Director
Jim Thompson, President

SBI: Executive Committee

Sean P. Clancy, Esq.

  • SBI: Legal Counsel
  • Rosenblum-Goldenhirsh-Zaft Law Firm: Principal
  • 1904 World's Fair Charitable Foundation
       - Sec/Treas/Legal Counsel & Co-Founder
  • Washington University: Masters of Law (#1)

Dr. Jim Logan 

  • SBI: Executive VP - Community Affairs
  • Dr. of Chiropractic: Logan College '78
  • Logan Racing: Indy 500 Team Owner
  • 1904 World's Fair Charitable Foundation:
  • Honorable Order of 'Kentucky Colonels
  • Key to the City: Greensboro, NC

Joan K. Bengston

  • SBI: Executive VP - Events
  • Manufacturers Rep.: Pray Associates
  • 1904 World's Fair Charitable Foundation
        - Vice President - Events
  •  Saint Louis Ambassadors: Secty/Treas

Tom Ousley

  • SBI:  Senior VP -  Scholarships
  • Infinite Scholars: Founder & President
  • 1904 World's Fair Charitable Foundation
     - Founding Charter Member - 2002
  • Univ. of MO - Stl: Masters in Educ. Adm.

John P. Walsh

  • SBI: Sr. VP - Responder Rescue Affairs
  • St. Louis Data Destruction: President
  • Screens On-Site, LLC: President
  • Cottleville Fire District: Board Chairman
  • St. Louis Community College: Lecturer

Judy Bentley

  • SBI: Vice President - Healthcare Council
  • CHIPS Free Health Care Clinic: Founder
  • St. Louis University: Degree in Nursing
  • Webster University: MBA
  • 1904 World's Fair Charitable Foundation
    - Chairman: Healthcare Council

Sam Solomon

  • SBI: Vice President - Sister Cities
  • Diesel Gas America: President
  • 1904 World's Fair Charitable Foundation
     - Chairman: Sister Cities Program
  • Saint Louis Ambassadors
     - Chairman: Sister Cities Program

Joel Kirk

  • SBI: VP - Social Media Director
  • Missouri Networking: Managing Director
  • Off the Wall Murals: Founder/President
  • 1904 World's Fair Charitable Foundation:          - Chairman: Social Media Team
  • John Pills Posters: Business Manager

Cheri Otzenberger

  • SBI VP: Member Services Director
  • Central Michigan University
  • HP: Customer Service Manager
  • ReLiv Int'l: Independent Agent
  • Sage Innovation: Account Executive
  • 1904 World's Fair Charitable Found:                  

  • SBI VP:  Publisher/Editor - Enewsletter
  • University of Minnesota: Int'l Business
  • Oppenheimer Funds: Regional VP 
  • Safari Club International Foundation: 
  • 1904 World's Fair Charitable Foundation
  • RBF & Co.: Sr. Wealth Advisor

Frank J. Meyer

  • SBI VP: Disabled Community Affairs
  • Frank J. Meyer Co. : Real Estate/Const. 
  • 1904 World's Fair Charitable Found. 
  • Assoc. of Disabled Volunteers of Amer.
  • MO Quality Home Care Council 
     - Commissioner - Gov. Nixon Appointee

Rachel Boone

  • SBI VP: Membership Development
  • SIU - Carbondale: BFA; Graphic Design 
  • TriLeaf Design: Founder & President 
  • Woman's Day St. Louis: Board: 
  • 1904 World's Fair Charitable Foundation
  • Sean Keough

    • SBI VP: Videography Director
    • Capture NOW Media: President & CEO
    • The Mat Mart: Retail Manager
    • Lindenwood University: Videography
    • 1904 World's Fair Charitable Foundation

    Mark Moebius

    • SBI VP: Internet Radio Marketing
    • ROCK: President of the ROCK Radio
    • Radio: 30+ Years Experience
    • 1904 World's Fair Charitable Foundation