* Winners must use award as outlined in entry
Owners: Jennifer and Linden Lantz
Two former music directors, who also happen to be husband and wife, Linden and Jennifer Lantz opened Bandwagon Music and Repair just over a year ago. They’re known for their friendly and helpful atmosphere and have worked diligently to build their business skills from the bottom up. This year, they’re celebrating their anniversary by winning a Small Business Award! With their $10,000 winnings for business growth, the Lantzs look to add additional brands to their instrument selection and hire their first employee to assist with operations. For their community, they believe students in smaller suburbs around “Music City, USA” should have access to instruments so they have an equal opportunity to participate in school band classes. Therefore, Bandwagon Music will show “musical love” to local schools, like assisting a new band director at a nearby school in starting its first band program and providing a number of instruments that students may use in class.
Owners: Vicky and Patrick McCollim
The devastating Hurricane Harvey that made landfall in August 2017 hit the Greater Houston area hard, and companies like Home Exterior Systems can hardly keep up with the extreme need for skilled workers and reputable companies to provide the repairs homeowners desperately need. Vicky McCollim, along with husband Pat and son Caleb, are looking to add flood recovery and interior restoration services to their business to assist with hurricane recovery and beyond. The McCollims are also hoping to help fill the intense need for skilled workers in the region through their nonprofit organization, which provides training and education to people interested in working in the construction and renovation industry, or even starting new businesses of their own. By addressing this need, they hope to drastically reduce the time affected families must wait for needed repairs.
Owners: Mary Ann Beltinck
To combat the growth of online jewelry sales, Sawyer Jewelers provides customers with a special “personal touch” in their custom designed pieces that the online retailers can’t create. To continue providing superior quality of both products and service, as well as improving turnaround time, Sawyer Jewelers will invest their business growth winnings in CAD design programs that will allow their designers to create 3D printed replicas of jewelry before the customer purchases. To assist their community, Sawyer Jewelers has also created GEM Charities to help local children fighting terminal illnesses. The Beltinck family and employees at Sawyer Jewelers began the charity as a passion project after their children lost a classmate to cancer at a young age. They now use their charity to give other terminally ill young people get the chance to enjoy the experience of their choosing.
Owners: Steven Feig
With three locations between Bradenton and Sarasota, FL, Steven Feig’s Midas stores focus on building strong relationships both in their business and in their community. They’ve made a major impact through the Suncoast Blood Bank, All Faiths Foodbank and other charities, including free oil changes for blood donors and sponsorships for community outreach promotions. With his winnings, Steven plans to become a major sponsor of a blood drive this Spring and to provide food for over 1,000 local families. To grow his business, Steven will invest his $10,000 winnings in marketing, as well as technology to help his staff to diagnose needed repairs and share information with customers more clearly.
Owners: Margaret Ann Maas
After a fire destroyed the original Super Stitch location at the end of 2016, the store operated in a temporary space until Margaret Ann Maas and her staff could finally open their new location just a few months ago. With the need to recover from lost sales and class offerings during their relocation, Super Stitch is looking to rebrand as a Sewing Learning Center and offer a wide array of products to not only “resume business as usual, but to be better than ever.” With their winnings for business growth, Super Stitch plans to level and pave a gravel parking lot that’s difficult for some customers to navigate. To thank the firefighters who worked hard to save their original location and help keep their community safe, Super Stitch plans to fund a communications system upgrade for the local fire department using their community improvement winnings.
Owners: Ben Cavazos
At 87 years old, Ben Cavazos is still working to grow MAE Power Equipment just like he was hoping to do 63 years ago when he started the company with a small loan and a few tools. To provide service that big box stores can’t, Ben would like to use his $10,000 business growth prize to create a mobile training and education unit that will teach new customers to use their power equipment products. Having served on several boards over the past 50 years, Ben identified the Boys and Girls Club as a worthwhile long-term investment in his community. With his $10,000 community prize, MAE Power Equipment will help the Boys and Girls Club with a needed IT upgrade. Outdated technology and Wi-Fi capabilities hinder the organization’s ability to help kids learn about technology. MAE plans to update the equipment, including new computers and improved internet access.
Owners: James and Michelle Laws
Davina Mitchell believes educated and informed customers are more likely to make purchases they’ll be happy to own. That’s why she plans to invest her $10,000 business growth prize in a high-quality lettering and label-printing machine that will help identify products and their benefits to customers, creating a smoother shopping experience. Years ago, when Davina was a single mother searching for ways to provide housing for herself and her children she discovered Habitat for Humanity. She was impressed by the organization’s approach to providing housing to needy families as a “hand-up—not a handout,” and has chosen Habitat to receive her $10,000 community service prize. She plans to help Habitat with their plans to build a community of 12 new homes with a centralized playground for children.
Owners: Matt and Laura Weber
At Clark’s Car Care, Laura and Matt Weber understand the need to equip their staff with the ability to serve customers at the highest level. With their winnings, they plan to invest their business growth prize in the Sandler customer service training program for their customer-facing employees. In terms of community, Clark’s has actively participated in the Cares for Cars program for the past five years. The program provides low- or no-cost car repairs for members of the local community in need. Last year, the program lost its funding and was temporarily shut down. Since then, the program has been revived on a limited budget, but will help many more people with the $10,000 prize.
Owner: Chris Coleman
Like many coastal towns in Oregon, Gold Beach struggled as logging and fishing business declined, forcing local schools to cut program budgets. Chris Coleman and the staff at C&M are excited to use their $10,000 community improvement prize to help provide instruments and supplies for the music and art programs in local schools. For their business improvement, Chris plans to use his $10,000 prize to refurbish the exterior of the store and create new, eye-catching signage to draw customers from Highway 101, which runs along the Oregon coastline directly in front of C&M Equipment’s location.
Owner: Ryan Lamar Foster
Mattress for Less has been in business for three years, and they’ve changed locations three times to increase size and capability. The timing of the Small Business Awards was perfect for Ryan Foster, as he’s ready to move the business yet again to accommodate the need for more space, more staff and more product offerings in an ever-evolving industry. Ryan plans to use his $10,000 business growth winnings for the down payment to purchase his new space rather than lease. For his community, Ryan plans to use his $10,000 prize to enhance the support he already provides to Peoria Jobs Partnership, which provides training to inmates so they’re prepared for life outside of prison.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. The Working Forward Small Business Awards is open to small businesses whose principal place of business is in the 50 United States, D.C., Puerto Rico or US Territories and that are enrolled as dealers in a Synchrony Financial credit card or installment sale financing program (each, a “Dealer”) as of September 24, 2017, with thirty (30) or fewer full-time, year-round employees. The Dealer’s account with Synchrony Bank must be in good standing at the time of entry and prize award for the Dealer to be eligible. Contest begins at 10:00 a.m. ET on 9/25/17 and ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on 10/30/17. Sponsored by Synchrony Bank. For Official Rules, visit synchronybusiness.com/awards
1 $10,000 awarded in the form of a check to the winning Small Business allotted for growing the business, and $10,000 awarded in the form of a check to the winning Small Business to be used to better the surrounding community as outlined in entry.