Success Stories

Mickey Kunnary was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in April 2013. At that time Helena didn’t have a place to shop locally for the hair loss products she needed during and after her chemotherapy treatment.

She ordered items online and often kept things that didn’t fit correctly instead of spending time and money on the return shipping process. At one point she had to purchase a wig while traveling, because finding the correct fit or style online would have been almost impossible.

These challenges are what inspired her on a path to open The Survivors’ Boutique in Helena two years ago on Valentine’s Day. "I had no idea how to start a business but I knew I wanted to start one." She is now is making it easier for cancer patients in Helena to purchase headscarves, wigs, books and gifts intended to bring hope and support.

"I got my business plan together with help from the SBDC, (Small Business Development Center) and then started to find out about financing so I... Read More

Tabletree juices

Gary and Susan Snow always wanted to come home to the Flathead Valley of Northwest Montana.  When a board member of the Flathead Lake Cherry Growers Association called Gary in 2015 and asked the Snows to bring their successful juice-making business to Montana, the opportunity was there.

There was one problem:  to do what the Cherry Growers were asking - bottle and sell Flathead cherry juice - they needed help, not the least of which was financing to move their operations from Canada and startup a U.S.-based company.

It all came together with the help of the Small Business Development Center in Kalispell, located at Flathead Valley Community College, and financing through Flathead Bank of Bigfork (now First Interstate Bank) and an $85,000 guaranteed loan through the U.S. Small Business Administration. 

In addition, Montana state awarded a $40,000 grant to Tabletree for cherry processing equipment.  The award came from The Growth Through Agriculture program,... Read More

2017 SBA Small Business Person of the Year for Montana

It was 1967, the so-called “summer of love,” when Frank and Vi Bretz turned their love of camping into a small business in Missoula.  Their idea was to create a new opportunity for local families and visitors to Montana to have great summer outings at affordable prices.

That first year business was conducted from a leased service station and focused on renting small travel trailers.  Fifty years later, Bretz RV and Marine is the largest RV and boat dealer in the six-state region surrounding Montana, and company CEO Mark Bretz is the 2017 U.S. Small Business Administration Montana District Office small business person of the year. 

Mark Bretz took over the family-owned business in 1982.  He told RV Business Magazine in 1995 that as much as he enjoyed RV'ing, “I never thought I would be RV'ing for my livelihood. I was going to be a banker.” 

He said his parents bought their first RV when he was six.  “I grew up in the business," he said. 

When Mark entered... Read More

Abby Hetherington always knew her career would be something in the arts, as she has an eye for art and design.  Her spunk and self-described ADD-type of personality drives her to think out of the box as a creative thinker.

After high school Abby went to Interior Design school.  Following seven years of applying her interior design skills for a local firm, Abby decided to take it to the next level and go on her own.  Abby Hetherington Interiors started in 2013, catering to her high-end clients, including residents from Bozeman, Big Sky, the Yellowstone Club, and reaching across the nation.  After being in business for a couple years, Abby saw the need to expand her services with a design studio and showroom – a place where her clients could touch, feel and experience the products she was incorporating into her designs. 

Abby began looking for the perfect space, something in downtown Bozeman, with parking and a warehouse feel.  Once she stumbled upon the historical... Read More

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