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Success Stories

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

In February of 2002, Laura Garber and husband Henry Wuensche, started Homestead Organics Farm in Hamilton, Montana.  For over a decade the farm has served as a gathering place for food and learning in the Bitterroot Valley. The farm encompasses 14 acres, including; six unheated greenhouses, 350-foot-long rows of fruit and nut trees, a farm stand, a 10’ x 12’ walk-in cooler, and a certified commercial kitchen. 

This family-run vegetable farm serves as one of the farms within the Community Support Agriculture (CSA) program and an on-site farm stand from summer through fall. Within the CSA program, Homestead Organics offers produce on a sliding scale to its members serving from two to eight people.  Participants in the CSA program pledge to support one or more local farms, therefore growers and consumers share in the risks and benefits of food production. In return they  receive monthly shares of produce, grains, cut flowers, eggs and a variety of meat including pork, lamb and... Read More

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