Each week, the Lake Norman Chamber will highlight a Chamber Business Member and a Nonprofit that is making a Splash in the Lake Norman region. For the week of November 21-25, 2016 we have selected Kilwin's Chocolate, Fudge, Ice Cream and the North Mecklenburg Woman's Club.
Retail Spotlight: Kilwin’s Chocolate, Fudge, Ice Cream in Birkdale Village
Kilwin’s Chocolate, Fudge, Ice Cream in Birkdale Village is once again hosting an Angel Tree to assist a Lake Norman Community in need and to help protect the dignity of the individuals and families in this season of giving, remembrance, and fellowship.
Stop by Kilwin's in Birkdale Village and pick up your Angel from the Angel Tree and bring joy and happiness to someone who needs a helping hand this holiday season. Owners Bill and Donna Kenney and their daughter, Stephanie Plott, say the “elves” at their Birkdale confections shop will continue collecting donations until Tuesday, November 29. Pick up an Angel in the store with a gift suggestion sheet.
Kilwin's is known for their homemade fudge, caramel, brittles and corns. There store is filled with many chocolate dipped treats and chocolate truffles. Also, enjoy any one of their 32 flavors of Kilwin's original recipe ice cream in a homemade waffle cone. Kilwin's menu is full of tasty homemade treats that are made on their marble slab in the store. Products range from hand paddled fudge, hand dipped caramel apples, to a variety of homemade brittles and caramel popcorn. There are ten flavors of fudge that are hand paddled and made in our store... bring the kids and family and watch as the Kilwin's staff make all of these products in their store!. Kilwin's also offer a wide variety of truffles that can be used in gift boxes and assortments.
Bill Kenney reminds our Chamber Members and customers, "Our store is open daily and please stop by to enjoy some of our tasty homemade recipes! Free samples of fudge and ice cream everyday." 11 am until 9 pm
Kilwin’s is located at 16926 Birkdale Commons Parkway
Nonprofit Spotlight: North Mecklenburg Woman’s Club
Over a century ago, a group of women in Huntersville, NC decided to meet and form a club with the intention of swapping recipes, helping the needy and collecting war rations. Who knew that over 103 years later, that same club would be in existence still flourishing and helping the community?
The North Mecklenburg Woman’s Club, with its almost 200 members, continues to bring women together to promote and support social, educational and civic progress. They do so by holding fundraising events, providing support to our schools, awarding scholarships, participating in many community service activities, organizing need collections and having tons of fun along the way.
More than 50 charities in the Lake Norman area have benefitted from the hard work and generosity of the ladies of the club. In May of 2016, the club awarded $67,000 to 18 different charities, including $11,000 in scholarships.
The North Mecklenburg Woman’s Club will be hosting its most spectacular fundraiser yet: Denim and Diamonds Casino Night at Langtree Plantation on Saturday, March 11, 2017. The proceeds from this event will support ANSWER Scholarship, Caterpillar Ministries, Hope House and other charities in the community. Tickets will go on sale January, 2017.
The Kilted Buffalo, LLC, with locations in Birkdale Village and Langtree at the Lake, was recognized by the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Friday, May 6th as the 2016 Small Business of the Year. In a first time move by the chamber of commerce, it recognized dual recipients of the award as both The Kilted Buffalo and Savory Moments, made extremely compelling cases for the annual business recognition.
Bill Russell, president of the chamber, said the judges felt Savory Moments, a local family operatied catering company, had grown their very successful business in a conventional manner – growth in revenues, market share, employees, and location. It was The Kilted Buffalo’s entrepreneurial approach to their business and operations, however, that intrigued the judges and led to their co-selection as The Best of the Best at Lake Norman.
Shawn Shrader, the Proprietor of the Kilted Buffalo opened his unique men’s hair salon in Birkdale Village five years ago. The business combined the concepts of “contemporary barbershop” with “neighborhood pub” creating a highly successful venture that has seen a second location opening at Langtree at the Lake.
Andrew Warfield, Editor of the Lake Norman Citizen Newspaper shared with chamber of commerce leaders why he felt The Kilted Buffalo was the right selection as the 2016 Small Business of the Year, “Shawn Shrader took a gamble when he opened the Kilted Buffalo. The concept was new to the area - a neighborhood pub that sells only beer and wine, does not prepare food but allows carry-out and delivery to customers inside, and cuts men’s hair. It was an instant hit with continuous growth over the past five to six years. Plus opening his second Lake Norman location within the last two years makes The Kilted Buffalo highly deserving of the honor of Small Business of the Year, particularly when considering its charitable efforts.”
The award was presented by 2017 Incoming Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Jay Lesemann, Jr. and Chamber President Bill Russell. Assisting the chamber was Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla who cited the regional approach Shrader has taken opening locations in both Huntersville and Moorevelle. The mayor said businesses like The Kilted Buffalo do not recognize town city limits and are not constrained by municipal boundaries. Instead, their market is the larger Lake Norman community. Shrader was joined by Jenny Monnin, the chief stylist and manager of The Kilted Buffalo Men's Salon along with Ken Easter, Director of Operations.
Shrader answered questions posed to him about the business. Below are his responses:
How has the business grown over the last year(s): you can speak to revenues, number of employees, locations.
We have grown by leaps and bounds in the 5 plus years we have been open here in Huntersville, Birkdale Village. From the day before we opened our doors to the public hosting the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce AfterHours & ribbon cutting ceremony to today we have continued to grow significantly showing year over year sales growth for 5 straight years and by more than tripling the number of local people we employ. We are proud to be part of the Lake Norman community and have been fortunate enough to open a second location around LKN at LangTree at the Lake in Mooresville.
What innovative or successful business practice; marketing, events have ensured your success? What community activities are you involved in?
Our unique business of “contemporary barbershop” and neighborhood pub was created to bring back the days of old notion of bringing the community together and allowing them a place to gather like the old time barbershops or public house. We have strived from the beginning to become a positive member of the LKN community with grass roots marketing and involvement by partnering with all different kinds of local charities, groups, events and businesses. We believe that marketing and community involvement go hand in hand for example, sponsoring a LKN Little league team, and a local adult co-ed softball team.
We are tying local and national charities into a lot of our unique marketing events. We feel by creating fresh and exciting events to grow our business and bring our community together while raising money for great causes has been a big part of our ongoing successes. We are proud to say we help create events and host charity guest bartender events almost weekly and have helped raise over $20,000 a year for the past four years running and are on track to exceed that amount in 2016.
Some unique event examples are our recent “Zero k” race for The Hope House of Huntersville, our annual Kentucky Derby party and horse auction benefiting Kids Rein of Huntersville, to the numerous guest bartender events we host for all different types of causes for example: the annual Great Dane Rescue event hosted by Huntersville town commissioner Rob Kidwell to breast cancer awareness events, raising money for locals citizens in need and many other great causes.
Thank you for the honor of being selected Small Business of the Year. We look forward to continuing to grow our businesses and help the community for years to come.
Kilwin's Chocolate, located at 16926 Birkdale Commons Pkwy in Huntersville (Birkdale Village) was recognized as a finalist for the 2015 Small Business of the Year by the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce. Chamber Board Chair Mike Russell recognized Bill and Donna Kenney at the Small Business of the Year reception held in the Visit Lake Norman Visitor Center Friday, May 8, 2015. The Chamber thanks the Kenney family and Kilwin's for their strong support of Huntersville and the Lake Norman region and congratulate Kilwin's Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream as one of the Best of the Best in Business at Lake Norman.
The Chamber asked owner/operator Bill Kenney to share information below about this outstanding business:
Kilwin's Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream (From owner Bill Kenney)
On February 11, 2011, our family opened Kilwin's Chocolate, Fudge and Ice Cream @ Birkdale Village. Bill and daughter, Stephanie, manage the day to day operations. Stephanie's husband, Josh Plott is our production manager. Wife and mom, Donna, handles the financial aspect. Bill has 50+ years of food service experience and graduated from Mars Hill College and the Culinary Institute. Stephanie graduated from UNCC with Business Management degree majoring in Marketing. This is truly a family affair.
Our marketing plan included a commitment to serve our Huntersville and North Mecklenburg county communities. Also as a family priority, we wanted to positively impact our community and make a difference whenever possible.
Our community involvement over the past few years includes:
• Raised over $6,000 for Habitat for Humanity and participated in the 'Big Cheese' contest for 3 years. And we have a goal to raise the $72K to fund the construction of a home
• Raised over $5,000 for Relay for Life over past 3 years
• 2013 and 2012 coordinated Christmas Angel Tree gifts with Angel and Sparrows Soup kitchen and our customers for 50 senior citizens residents of White House retirement community in Huntersville
• Past 2 years, supported HEFP (Huntersville Methodist Church) food pantry financially with donations of $2,000. Our Kilwin's customers supported our 'Fill a Bucket, Feed a Family' campaign in our collection of over 2,000 pound of food for the pantry.
• Five year financial commitment to support Barium Springs Home for Children
• Hope House fund raisers as well as providing employment for several clients
• Bill is a Board Member of Hopewell High School Academy of Hospitality & Tourism
• School Support: Accelerated Reader programs for Huntersville Elementary and Torrance Creek, Barnett School Field Day, Baily Middle School Band and Orchestra
• Others: Jason Ray Foundation, Hospice of Huntersville, Lions Club of North Meck
• Hundreds of Kilwin's gift card donations for area's not for profit organizations
Because of the Kilwin's quality and brand recognition, sales the first year were higher than original projections. Our sales increased 34% from 2011 to 2012; 20% from 2012 to 2013; 11% from 2013 – 2014; and 2015 YTD sales have increased another 11%. Our store sales rank 8 out of 32 stores in the Kilwin's Mid-Atlantic region, and 28 out of 98 overall Kilwin's stores. All this with the past four years of opening our business.
When we opened our doors in 2011, we had three full time and six part time associates. Now we have six full time and ten part time associates. Over the summer, we will add six more seasonal part time positions. Since our business has been so successful, in 2015 we now offer a Simple IRA retirement savings program with a company match plan. To share our success with our associates, we award bonuses when we experience exceptional sales for example Valentines and Christmas. Every year we celebrate the previous year with our annual associate party and get together.
Management Innovation & Marketing Techniques
Customer experience is critical in our marketing and management approach. First, you are greeted by our associates, hoping that we demonstrate that we genuinely appreciate your business. Secondly, we want you to be attracted to our aromas that include freshly baked waffle cones, popcorn for homemade caramel corn and peanut brittle as well as many other smells that our customers describe as 'Smells like Heaven.' Thirdly, we intend to overwhelm you with so many confectionary options that we keep you coming back on a weekly basis. We are also very proud that many of the items are homemade and in our store right in front of our customer.
We look for other sales opportunities other than just within our store. This includes: catering business and community ice cream socials, 9-day Cabarrus County Fair, on-site Business and wedding catering, school field days and special order business baskets.
We network our business by participating in Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce functions, attending Huntersville Connection business meetings and Birkdale Village Merchants meetings. Our marketing presence includes active Facebook, Living Social specials, Lake Norman Citizen advertisements and daily E-Blast messages.
Last week, I was at a local restaurant in Huntersville when a Lake Norman Chamber member asked about Langtree at the Lake. This particular individual was not able to attend the very informative Focus Friday session we held last month at the Chamber.
Anyone who drives past exit 31 off I-77 has seen the tremendous activity as the first phase of construction is under way for the mixed-use development. This member understood that soon the North Meck -South Iredell area will see 300 luxury apartments as well as a 350,000 square foot Ethosphere building which would include a full service hotel.
The 14-story building (if approved) would also contain at least 14,000 square feet of much-needed meeting room space. The project, an $800 million investment for R.L. West Properties, is expected to be an 8-10 year build out and will have a considerable retail footprint in our region.
This particular gentleman inquired if properties like Birkdale Village in Huntersville or Jetton Village in Cornelius would suffer with the introduction of Langtree at the Lake. "Not at all," I responded, "Langtree will be the perfect compliment to our lake lifestyle and add an additional regional resource as Lake Norman emerges as a destination for the business and leisure traveler.
Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins attended the Focus Friday and told the packed room of Lake Norman Chamber members, "I believe this development will be transformative and will have a very positive economic impact and provide an enhanced standard of living option for Mooresville and the Lake Norman region."
Atkins continued, "It will serve as an anchor aligning Mooresville-South Iredell with our North Mecklenburg town partners, and help define our place in the greater Charlotte region. I am very excited about the possibilities and opportunities a project of this magnitude could mean for all of us."
Steve Welly, president of R.L West and Jerry Broadway, Executive Director of the Lake Norman Regional Economic Development Corporation echoed Mayor Atkins comments.
Broadway, using a lake analogy, told the Focus Friday attendees, "A rising tide lifts all boats..." and reminded all of us that a project like Langtree at the Lake impacts all of us. "I look at the Langtree project as a regional project, an element that creates a positive quality of life for everyone."
Langtree at the Lake – a vision of the Howard family (Brad and Rick) – is a welcome sight indeed. Langtree is making a splash at Mooresville and that wave of energy and vitality will be felt on the shores of Mecklenburg, Lincoln, and Catawba.
Langtree, and other developments like it, are another reason the rising tide will lift our businesses and communities if we are brave enough to leave the safety of the shore. We must invest in the unbridled opportunities that await us by working hard, working smart and working together.
Bill Russell, President