The Working Forward Small Business Award results are in!

Scroll down to view the 2017 award winners

Grow Your Business.

Make a Difference.

Successful small businesses are the cornerstones of their communities. Synchrony will choose 10 winners and give them each $10,000 to grow their business and an additional $10,000* to make a difference in 
the community.

* Winners must use award as outlined in entry

Want to become a Synchrony Partner?

GET STARTED

The 2017 Award Winners

Bandwagon Music and Repair – Nashville, Tenn.

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 in 2016. 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 have added additional instrument types to their selection and have hired their first employee to assist with operations and expand their hours. 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 is showing “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, helping a couple of other local school band directors to repair old and purchase new band instruments for their kids, and finally by helping yet another school’s band director by renovating a room to be an official ‘band room’.


Laws Flooring and Rugs – Jonesboro, Ark.

Owners: Michelle and James Laws



The owners and staff at Laws Flooring believe educated and informed customers are more likely to make purchases they’ll be happy to own. That’s why they are investing their $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. The team's shared philanthropic passion has led them to contribute their $10,000 community service prize to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Jonesboro. The Laws Flooring team is impressed by the organization’s approach to providing housing to needy families as a “hand-up—not a handout,” They plan to help Habitat with their new project, BuildUp for Phillip, to build a community of 9 new homes with a centralized playground for children.


MAE Power Equipment – Mission, Texas

Owner: Ben Cavazos



At 88 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 is using 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 local Boys and Girls Club as a worthwhile long-term investment in his community. With his $10,000 community prize, MAE Power Equipment is helping the Boys and Girls Club of Mission with a much-needed IT upgrade. Outdated technology and old Wi-Fi insfrastructure hinder the organization’s ability to provide a modern and technologically functional place where kids can learn and get their homework done in their after-school program. MAE plans to update the equipment, including new computers and improved internet access.


Home Exterior Systems, LLC – Tomball, Texas

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, Patrick and their son Caleb entered the contest with their sights set on adding more services to be able to offer their customers including flood recovery, siding and interior restoration. They knew these would help their business grow as it is such a significant need in the wake of Harvey 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.


Mattress for Less – Peoria, Ill.

Owners: Mandy and Ryan 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 and Mandy Foster, as they're 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 and Mandy have used their $10,000 business growth winnings for the down payment to move to a new location in a more accessible place with much greater shopping traffic. For their community, Ryan and Mandy have used their $10,000 prize to enhance the support they already provide to Peoria Jobs Partnership, which provides training to inmates so they’re prepared for life outside of prison.


Clark’s Car Care – Naperville, III.

Owners: Laura and Matt 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 a service training program for their customer-facing employees – keeping a competitive advantage by continuing to find innovative ways to provide great customer service. 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 – Clarks is one of the programs 3 certified repair shops, and NAPA contributes parts for repairs at cost. 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 get back on the road with a safe vehicle with the $10,000 prize.


Super Stitch, Inc. – North East, Pa.

Owners: Ann and Richard Maas



After a fire destroyed the original Super Stitch location at the end of 2016, the store operated in a temporary space until Ann and Richard Maas and their staff could finally open their new location in the Fall of 2017. 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 two local volunteer fire companies using their community improvement winnings.


Midas of Sarasota-Bradenton – Bradenton, Fla.

Owner: 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, by offering things such as free oil changes for blood donors. Additionally, they provide sponsorships for community outreach promotions, host local fundraising events and Steven even works as a celebrity bartender at the events, helping to raise more awareness and funding. 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. By investing in this technology, Steven knows quick and complete communication with his customers about needed repairs will continue to enhance the great service he provides in a highly competitive area.


C&M Equipment – Gold Beach, Ore.

Owners: Chris and Marie Coleman



Like many coastal towns in Oregon, Gold Beach struggled as logging and fishing business declined and income tax eroded-forcing local schools to cut program budgets. Chris and Marie 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. These programs, once completely cut from the schools’ curriculum, have recently been reinstated into the local school system will benefit a great deal with this grant.  Music and art program enrichment is important to Chris, Marie and their team and they look forward to helping provide instruments, equipment and supplies to the local school kids.  For their business improvement, Chris and Marie have used their $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.


Sawyer Jewelers – Fenton, Mich.

Owners: Chip and 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 is able to extend the outreach of their non-profit organization GEM Charities to help local children and young families who are dealing with terminal illnesses get some much-needed assistance. The Beltinck family and employees at Sawyer Jewelers began the charity as a passion project after their children lost a classmate to cancer at an early age. They now use their charity to give other terminally ill young people get the chance to enjoy the experience of their choosing to create lasting joyful memories with their family and friends.




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 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.