The holiday season is upon us and with it comes the sights and sounds of Christmas. Regardless of your faith, December is often a special month of reflection, generosity, and family. Listening to my favorite carols and songs brings back long cherished memories of family and friends. For many, it's a spiritual season with thoughts of life's purpose. But others face much darker days with the struggle of addition. Providing them and their families, relief from the pain would be the greatest gift of all.
Last week, I attended my weekly Rotary Club meeting and listened as a young lady shared her story of addiction to opioids. The daughter of a Rotarian, she fought through tears as she shared her innermost struggle with substance abuse. She was an honor student, gifted athlete, and popular classmate. Yet, she still felt a lack of esteem and confidence, which led to handfuls of pills that wrecked her life, leaving a wide wake of personal destruction with family and close friends.
I squirmed in my seat as I listened to her recount how her parents tried desperately to reach out with counseling and assistance. But in the end, they were forced to lock her out of their house. It was a story I was all too familiar with as my stepbrother faced the same insidious demons.
The opioid epidemic is now considered the worst drug crisis in our nation's history. These drugs kill more Americans than automobile accidents and opioids now claim more than 27,000 lives each year. Addiction knows no discrimination as every demographic segment has seen a dramatic rise in deaths from overdoses of prescription opioids and heroin.
In 2014, friends from my High School lost their son to his struggle with substance abuse. Their family was close and Hendon was a popular and gifted young man and a talented athlete. Their son was one of the most likeable young men you would ever meet. But again, addiction does not discriminate - and another life ended entirely too soon - and another family faced unimaginable heartache.
Earlier this year, I attended the funeral of a very successful young chamber member. She was the mother of two little girls. Bethany lost a battle that far too many wage. Her family and her faith simply could not compete with the pull of addiction - the momentary high that robs from the future.
The young lady at Rotary ended by telling us how each day is a struggle, but she is winning that battle one day at a time. It takes courage, time and tons of support. Ultimately, the answer must begin with an acknowledgement that there is a problem and there must be resolve to overcome it.
If I could have one gift this Christmas, it would be for our nation to put aside all the petty political bickering and focus on the real threats which face our great country, robbing each of us of our greatest living treasure - the sons and daughters of America.
Country Singer Vince Gill sings a song called, "Go Rest High on that Mountain." In the song, Gill sings, "...only you could know the pain. You weren't afraid to face the devil, you were no stranger to the rain."
Let us hope as we face this year ahead, we do so resolved to ending the addiction crisis threatening our young people. United in a common cause to bring awareness to the issue and compassion to the cause. While we may not win every battle, no one should ever have to face the devil alone.
Happy Holidays and God Bless!
The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce would like to congratulate Rob Bennett, owner of My Aloha Paddle & Surf, Inc. and Charlotte Cycleboats as a Graduate of the 2017 Small Business Administration Emerging Leaders Class. Ron joined the Chamber in 2013 and has been recognized in 2015 and 2016 as a Small Business of the Year Finalist. Congratulations Rob! Ron is the Lake Norman Chamber's Spotlight member of the Week for November 13-20, 2017.
SBA Graduates 2017 Emerging Leaders Class in Charlotte
Charlotte, NC – For 12 Charlotte area small business owners, who were selected to participate in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders program in April, the hard part is over.
After spending eight months and logging in a combination of 100 hours of work and evening class time, the North Carolina SBA is graduating its second class of Emerging Leaders. The Charlotte Emerging Leaders class of 2017 participated in an intensive executive-level entrepreneurship training program for small business owners in over 50 cities and communities across the country.
“We couldn’t be happier with the results of Emerging Leaders Class of 2017,” said SBA North Carolina District Director Lynn Douthett, who delivered remarks at a graduation ceremony on Wednesday evening at Central Piedmont Community College where the program took place. “The caliber of each individual was evident through their commitment and willingness to improve their businesses.”
Dwayne Meekins, owner of Game Truck Charlotte is a 2017 graduate. Game Truck provides video game parties, laser tag, and other entertainment.
“Charlotte SBA Emerging Leaders has been a really wonderful and eye-opening experience for me, “said Dwayne. “The opportunity to learn with and from other small business owners is invaluable. In addition to learning from each other, we can hold each other accountable as well.”
According to SBA’s North Carolina Program Manager of Emerging Leaders Eileen Joyce, participants had to have annual revenues of at least $400,000; have been in business for at least 3 years; and have at least one employee, other than self in order to participate in the program.
The 12 graduates, who participated in the program, came from Charlotte, Concord, Cornelius, Gastonia, Mooresville, Raleigh, and Rock Hill, SC.
“It has been an honor to have the opportunity to create an environment that facilitated learning and insights for a dynamic group of participants in the 2017 Charlotte Emerging Leaders Program,” said Brenda Anderson, Charlotte Emerging Leader instructor. “The 2017 graduates demonstrated commitment, collaboration and compassion for each other’s growth and now are becoming a part of a network of business leaders poised to make a difference and an economic impact in the region!”
Since 2008, the Emerging Leaders initiative has trained over 4,000 promising small business owners in underserved communities, and continues to expand its impact of helping small businesses grow and create jobs.
Local partners for Charlotte Emerging Leaders include Central Piedmont Community College, The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, Charlotte SCORE, Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Chamber, the City of Charlotte Business INClusion, Mecklenburg County MWSBE Program, NC Small Business & Technology Development Center, NC Institute of Minority Economic Development, the Latin American Economic Development Corporation, and the Carolinas Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council.
For additional information about the Emerging Leaders program, contact Eileen Joyce of the SBA North Carolina District Office at (704) 344-6787 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-sponsorship Authorization # 17-0460-63 SBA’s participation in this cosponsored activity is not an endorsement of the views, opinions, and products for services of any cosponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.
The following is a list of the executives and their companies who have graduated from the SBA’s 2017 Emerging Leaders training initiative:
Rob Bennett - My Aloha Paddle and Surf, Inc. - Cornelius
Tammara Combs - Serendipity Interactive - Mooresville
Bill Labbon - Kaicia, Inc. DBA Foreign Translations - Huntersville
Dwayne Meekins - GameTruck - Charlotte
Jefferson Ovalle - Genesis Construction of the Carolinas - Charlotte
Willo Smith - JSL, LLC - Charlotte
Anita Staton - Miles Freight Solutions, LLC - Charlotte
Tracy Thornton - Computer Data Services, LLC - Charlotte
Curt Vanderhorst - Vanderhorst Enterprises, Inc. - Raleigh
Benjamin Visser - Social Design House - Charlotte
Brenda White - Art by Me - Concord
Jonathan Wilson - Design Tech - Gastonia
Did you know July 22 has been proclaimed Big Day at the Lake Day by the NC Legislature? How cool is that?
You can be part of it by signing up to be a Boat Host, or a volunteer.
Big Day at the Lake, which has a 13-year record of helping Big Brother and Big Sisters of the Central Carolinas, needs Boat Hosts to take at-risk kids out on the lake for a morning of fun. Each “Little” comes with a “Big”—a built-in chaperone—AND a signed waiver.
The Big Day at the Lake organizers—all of them volunteers—expect as many as 200 kids, which means at least 120 Boat Hosts are needed July 22. We need you! This is a fun AND meaningful way to give back.
To register as a Boat Host (or to volunteer), go to: www.bigdayatthelake.com.
The day starts at 9 am at your dock, boat ramp, marina or a yacht club. Pair up with a friend or a group for even more fun. Big Day at the Lake has safe harbors organized (PYC, for example) as well as Boat Captains who can help with meeting up. Sorry, no jet skis for this event.
After a morning of sun and fun, join in the picnic lunch at Duke Energy Explorium. It’s amazing.
Dave Yochum can answer any and all questions about being a Boat Host. His number is 704-895-1335.
Photo courtesy of Lake Norman Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.
Each week the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce spotlights a Chamber member Business or Non Profit that is making a Splash in the Lake Norman region. This week, April 3 - 7, we focuus on Holly's Hope:
Holly’z Hope is a non-profit, volunteer organization based in Cornelius, N.C. that supports dogs and dog owners in our surrounding community. Holly’z Hope helps change the world one dog at a time by providing free custom-built dog houses and fences to dogs made to live outside on a chain with no protection from the elements. The organization also provides veterinary wellness care, vaccinations, spay/neuter services, pet supplies, dog food, pet toys, bedding, straw for warmth and tarps for shading. Dog owners are also educated on responsible pet ownership in an effort to reduce overpopulation and inhumane treatment.
Organization founder Holly Davis with nearly 300+ volunteers on board in a little over a year of organizing, proves how passionate people are in the mission to unchain dogs. Davis was recently successful in helping to pass an anti-tethering law in the town of Cornelius – and plans on expanding her efforts into nearby municipalities.
Changing the ordinance does not only improve the community by making it more safe and desirable but it changes the lives of the dogs and dog owners. I’m so very lucky to be able to do this work and make a difference” Holly Davis says.
Holly'z Hope runs 100% on donations. We also look for individual/company sponsorship's. A sponsorship covers all the materials needed for one dog fence build. A press release will be sent to all media outlets announcing the sponsorship. Sponsorship will be promoted via social media, Holly’z Hope website, and in photo/video credits. Tax deductible & non-profit company matching gifts Email email@example.com for more information.
To see the amazing before and after photos of dogs on chains enjoying their new digs, you can check out their site www.hollyzhope.com and on Facebook www.facebook.com/hollyzhope.
Charlotte Cycleboats Brings Human-Powered Pedaling to Our Local Waters
February 1st, 2017 - A new on-the-water experience is coming to Charlotte’s surrounding waters with the launch of Charlotte Cycleboats LLC. The first-of-its-kind in the area, this company is bringing a water-based spinoff of the oh-so popular land-based pedaling party pubs. Cycleboats provide a fun, new eco-friendly way to enjoy the water safely, with or without a beer in your hand.
Charlotte Cycleboats are designed to be operated as commercial tour boats on lakes and rivers and certified by the US Coast Guard. As riders pedal on individual cycle stations, together they propel a large paddle wheel in the back of the boat. There is always a captain elevated at the back of the boat to steer and operate the electric motor when needed.
Set to get going early Summer 2017, Charlotte Cycleboats will be offering pedal tours initially on Lake Norman with more in the works along the Catawba River in Belmont and Lake Wylie to follow shortly after. The fun tours are ideal for friendly outings, birthday parties, family reunions, company outings among many other fun social get togethers. While Cycleboats can provide an awesome platform for a fun party, they are also great for team building, fitness groups and of course spin and cycle groups.
Rob Bennett, owner of My Aloha Paddle and Surf, founded the new company that builds on his passion of bringing fun and fitness activities on the water. My Aloha Paddle & Surf was a 2016 finalist as the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year.
"I became more aware of the lack of fun activities on our beautiful lakes and rivers after growing Stand Up Paddleboarding in the Charlotte area,” Bennett says. “Cycleboats are a perfect match to our current business and we are thrilled to provide another awesome experience and only the best customer service will be our focus.”
The company is aquiring custom built tour boats with a high-top table lined by five pedal stations on each side to fit 10 people total. Then there is a four-person bench seat without pedals are also on the boat. The boat is powered by pedaling making it eco-friendly, but there is an electric motor for backup and emergencies, with solar panels on the canopy roof for regeneration. Guests only need to bring their favorite beverage and snacks. Only beer or wine, no liquor is permitted.
Charlotte Cycleboats will release more plans to offer tours from 90 minutes to three hours. Hints of a Local Craft beer Cruise, an extended dinner cruise, lake history cruise, local wineries sponsored wine tasting cruise and more to be announced.
Tickets can be purchased at a discount in advance at: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/charlotte-cycleboats-unique-fun-water-experience/x/15640750#/
Prairie Brookwood Breaks Ground on Major Expansion in Huntersville for Pactiv
Huntersville, NC, December 6, 2016 - Prairie Brookwood LLC today broke ground on a 324,480-square-foot warehouse expansion of their facility, which is leased to Pactiv, LLC, in Huntersville, North Carolina. Prairie Brookwood is investing over $14 million to more than double the size of the 24/7 facility that currently houses Pactiv's production of food service disposables and food packaging. Project highlights include 35 new loading docks and a structural steel frame with concrete tilt-up walls.
"Over a decade ago, we partnered with the towns of Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville to build the first building in the Commerce Station Park," said Benjamin Shapiro, Manager of Prairie Brookwood LLC. "This expansion fulfills our shared vision for creating a state-of-the-art manufacturing and distribution facility upon 40 acres of raw land, and serves as an excellent model for government and private industry working together to create good jobs for a community."
"Lake Norman Economic Development is appreciative of today's announcement of the expansion with Pactiv and Prairie Brookwood," said Ryan McDaniels, Executive Director of Lake Norman Economic Development. "Commerce Station Business Park is the result of a partnership between the Town of Cornelius, Town of Davidson, Town of Huntersville, and Mecklenburg County. This partnership has led to continued growth with new jobs and investment added to our community. We look forward to future announcements at Commerce Station."
"The expanded facility will complement our already strong and growing North American manufacturing footprint and enable the company to remain focused on our current product lines as we continue to meet the demands of our customers," said John McGrath, Pactiv President & CEO.
"I am honored that Prairie Brookwood and Pactiv chose Huntersville to expand," said Mayor John Aneralla. "The workforce, our business climate and our quality of life continue to make Huntersville extremely attractive to companies. The expansion will create economic growth and development for the Huntersville community."
Located in Commerce Station Park, the expansion is being developed by Prairie Brookwood LLC. The Design-Build contractor is Graycor Construction Company and is being managed out of Graycor's Southeast regional office based in Charlotte.
"Graycor is truly excited to be a part of this long developing project," said Scott Skala, General Manager of the Southeast Division for Graycor Construction Company, "we look forward to continuing our partnership with Prairie Brookwood, Pactiv and the Town of Huntersville to deliver a facility that will serve both the Owner and Pactiv well for years to come."
About Pactiv, LLC
Pactiv is one of the world's largest producers of food service disposables and food packaging operating over 50 manufacturing plants in seven countries. With over 11,000 employees, Pactiv makes and sells products used in the foodservice, supermarket, and food packaging markets. Learn more at Pactiv.com.
Lake Norman Economic Development Corporation
The Lake Norman Economic Development Corporation is responsible for the development and implementation of the economic development strategy for the towns of Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville, and the Lake Norman region. These strategies will result in improving the quality of life for the region's residents through the expansion of the tax base by attracting new capital investment and creating new, highly skilled jobs for the regions residents. For more information visit www.lnedc.com.
Graycor Construction Company Inc. is a leader in managing new construction and interiors projects throughout North America. Graycor serves clients in the corporate, cultural/educational, healthcare, living & lodging, logistics & distribution, manufacturing and retail markets. For more information visit www.graycorconstruction.com.
Each week, the Lake Norman Chamber will highlight a Chamber Business Member and a Non Profit that is making a Splash in the Lake Norman region. For the week of November 1-5, 2016 we have selected Ranson Ridge Assisted Living and Memory Care and The Hope House Foundation.
Ranson Ridge Assisted Living and Memory Care - Lake Norman Chamber Business Spotlight
Ranson Ridge Assisted Living and Memory Care isn’t anything like you probably expect! Senior living has changed dramatically over the past years. Baby-boomers are expecting a higher level of options for their parents. From the time you walk in the door at Ranson Ridge, you feel the warmth of a homey, rustic lodge filled with active, happy, friendly residents who eagerly scurry to and from social events or linger together on the front porch or in front of the fireplace. Many tell stories of how they were hesitant to make such a huge change moving to a community, but once they did, they wish they had done it sooner. Recent studies show that quality of life and health improve with the socialization, good meals, exercise, and medication management that is offered in senior communities.
Ranson Ridge offers families the comfort of knowing their loved one will receive the most professional medical attention, if needed, as they age. Services are provided by a full-time on-site registered nurse and certified staff. Call Cathy Hansen, Certified Senior Advisor at Ranson Ridge, if you would like to see the community. Cathy also offers free counseling regarding eldercare options to chamber members. Call 704-897-2872.
Ranson Ridge was recently the host for the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce October Business AfterHours. Chamber Members received a first hand look into the residence and the memory care unit. Chamber members were impressed by the level of care as well as the staff and facilities. Pictured is Cathy Hansen, Certified Senior Advisor for Ranson Ridge Assisted Living & Memory Care; Scott Potter - Business AfterHours guest; Chamber President & CEO Bill Russell; and Carrie Brantley - Memory Care Coordinator. Ranson Ridge is located at 13910 Hunton Lane in Huntersville. For more information visit http://www.ransonridgeal.com.
The Hope House Foundation - Lake Norman Chamber Non-Profit Spotlight
Lee Beth Lindquist, M.D., had a dream to help homeless women and their children in the Lake Norman area who needed a hand-up, not a hand-out in becoming self-sustaining. In her medical practice and volunteer work, Dr. Lindquist realized there was no temporary housing support system for this vulnerable group within the 21-mile radius of the lake and included four counties -- Mecklenburg, Iredell, Cabarrus and Lincoln. She is the cornerstone of Hope House who rallied many others within this community to reach out and become loyal supporters of the Hope House mission and its vision in building and operating a transitional home.
The Hope House Foundation established its non-profit status in March 2005 once the house was purchased. In the autumn of 2005 Hope House decided to host a Katrina family for 13 months before the community embarked upon a major renovation to construct a two-level facility that took several years to complete from donated time and materials provided by the Lake Norman community and the Lake Norman Home Builders Association. In February 2009, Hope House received its Certificate of Occupancy. The next step was furnishing the house before tackling the operating component of staffing the house 24/7 and admitting its first residents.
Hope House opened its doors to full capacity in December 2009 with the assistance from The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte who provided case management and day-to-day operations for six months until the Hope House board recruited a program director in March 2010 to run the house and oversee residents and volunteers. Hope House today is a reality in changing the lives of women and their children who experience homelessness in Lake Norman’s area, particularly during this time of severe economic hardship.
Situated on four acres in the Town of Huntersville, Hope House has 4,000 square feet of "energy-efficient" living space with a security system on two levels with three bedrooms on each level.
Services and Programs
In order for a woman to improve her employment status and find affordable housing, she and her children enter Hope House for a six month stay. The house can accommodate up to 12 individuals at one time for up to a six-month stay. Within a safe living environment, goals of Hope House residents can be pursued and include personal responsibility for taking care of the house, encouraging independent self-sufficiency through employment and educational objectives and working toward stable housing. Life skills training and support services offered by community resources, and case management services help the families to transition in six months.
Huntersville, NC – When searching for signs of autumn’s arrival one need look no further than the return of the annual Carolina Renaissance Festival. As sure as the changing color of the leaves, for eight consecutive weekends in October and November the Carolina Renaissance Festival brings a big dose of cheer, trumpet fanfare, clashing armor and giant roasted turkey legs.
During the medieval times, fall was the Harvest Season celebrated by festivals and fairs. This rings true as each Renaissance Festival day is filled with a bounty of attractions appropriate for all age groups.
Village purveyors offer an endless feast of bread bowl stews, premium meats on sticks, sweet treats and confections, and a favorite of all renaissance wanderers: a bag of cinnamon-roasted almonds! Festival pubs offer variety of Pepsi products, craft beer, wine, champagne, ale, honey mead, lemonade and Medieval Margaritas to compliment the day-long feast of hearty foods fit for royalty!
Twelve stages offer an abundance of costumed performers offering continuous music, dance, comedy, and circus entertainments. Unbalanced acrobats, the Ancient Art of Falconry, and the popular jousting tournament with horse mounted armored knights are all examples of the continuous entertainment options offered. Many of the shows are spontaneous and you will never know what happens next, on stage or off.
Shop an extensive array of craft vendors offering home décor, jewelry, clothing of renaissance and medieval fashion, blown and torched glass, handmade art and pottery. There are also activities for children of all ages that include people powered amusement rides and countryside faire games such as the castle climbing wall, archery and tomato tossing at a fool.
Each year the Carolina Renaissance Festival adds new entertainments and upgraded facilities for visitor enjoyment. New additions for 2016 include Hypnotist Rick Stratton, where hypnosis is real and members of the audience are taken on a journey they’ll never forget! Also new is the Giving Tree Interactive Drum Jams where children and adults alike will love picking up an instrument and joining in the creation of foot pounding rhythms!
The 23rd Carolina Renaissance Festival - where imagination, fantasy, and history burst to life. A place where adults can feel and act like children while children are treated as royalty. A magical realm where you will forget about your daily cares and enjoy the magic of a simpler time and place. A time traveling escape like no other!
WHEN YOU GO:
What: The 23rd annual Carolina Renaissance Festival.
Where: North of Charlotte between Concord and Huntersville. The Festival is located on Highway 73 at Poplar Tent Road (between I-77 and I-85).
When: Eight consecutive weekends, Saturdays and Sundays, from October 1st through November 20th,. The Festival runs from 10:00 AM until 5:30 PM, rain or shine.
Advance Discount Tickets: $23 for adults, $13 for kids ages 5-12; available at Harris Teeter Stores region wide. Tickets purchased at the gate are $1 more, or print your own online at carolina.renfestinfo.com. Seniors ages 60 and over and Military personnel (with valid ID) enjoy discount tickets at the gate with adults at $21 and $11 for children ages 5 – 12. Children under 5 are always free. Parking is free courtesy of Harris Teeter.
Event Sponsors: Harris Teeter, Pepsi, & the Charlotte Observer. Additional sponsors include: Sunbelt Rentals, Diamond Springs, Carolinas HealthCare System, Party City, Visit Lake Norman, Chick-Fil-A, Valpak, AAA of the Carolinas, Autobell Carwash, Jersey Mike’s, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Fluent Language Solutions , Hampton Inn & Suites - Charlotte/Huntersville, Apex Technology, and Charlotte Playsets.
Information: Online at carolina.renfestinfo.com, or call (704) 896-5544, toll free (877) 896-5544.
Historic Rural Hill – a nonprofit organization based in Huntersville, NC – will hold its annual SUMMER FOOD TRUCK RALLY on FRIDAY, JULY 15, 2016 from 4:00pm – 8:00pm. All ages are invited to attend and taste the great food found at our local food trucks. Parking is $5 per vehicle, admission is free, and food pricing will vary per food truck. Please bring CASH for parking and for the trucks that are cash-only. The band Coddle Creek will be playing live music while craft beer and wine will be available for purchase. Coddle Creek is a high energy creekgrass band from the foothills of NC that plays traditional bluegrass music with a kick. The sweet harmonies and dueling acoustic guitars of longtime friends Travis Weddington and Adam Lawrence are like no other. A Kid’s Zone, corn hole, hayrides around the property (fee applies), hiking, local merchants, and living history experiences will also be available. Complete event information can be found at www.ruralhill.net.
With more than 17 area food trucks taking part in each Rally, there is certain to be something for everyone. Food Trucks already confirmed for this year (although subject to slight change) include fan favorites Jive Turkey Legs, KO Food Truck, Polar Snoballs, Emergensweets, All-Star Café, Lobster Dogs, Juan Taco, Fire Grill, Sugar Shack Sweets, Kona Ice, as well as newcomers Kabobster’s, New Wrap Order, Buffalo’s Best, All-Star Italian Ice and Popsicles, Killer Q, Soca Mobile Eatery, and Dumpling Girls, with more being added daily!
Event will take place rain or shine. Parking is $5 and each food truck will set its own menu and pricing. Sorry, no outside food, beverages, or animals permitted. For information, directions, and event information visit www.ruralhill.net.
Celebrating more than 250 years in history...Rural Hill is located at 4431 Neck Road (off Beatties Ford Road) in Huntersville, 28078. The former homestead of Major John and Violet Davidson, the 265 acre site is maintained and promoted by Historic Rural Hill Inc. and features annual events such as the Rural Hill Scottish Festival and Loch Norman Highland Games, the Rural Hill Amazing Maize Maze, the Rural Hill Sheepdog Trials, and the NC Brewers and Music Festival. Historic Rural Hill Inc. is a non-profit organization supported through membership and donations, and with proceeds from its events utilized for the preservation of Historic Rural Hill and its education efforts. For more information on events or for financial support accepted securely online, please visit www.ruralhill.net.
For More information: Contact: 704-875-3113 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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.