Success Stories


Elizabeth City SBTDC Assists Medical Doctor to Become a Small Business Owner


     Shifting from a career in the field of medicine, Ellen Colodney, MD desired a new profession serving the environment.  So, in 1999, she opened Wetland Plants in Edenton, North Carolina.  Colodney’s goal was to produce wetland and aquatic plants to be used for stormwater, wastewater, salt marsh, and shoreline projects.  She also saw this opportunity as a means to establish a supply chain on the eastern United States for Native Wetland Plants.

     Beginning her new horticulture career, Colodney, signed her first a contract with the N.C. Department of Transportation.  The contract required her to produce and ship a plant species that no one else in the country was growing.  Wetland Plants went on to become well known in the local construction industry as a result of their NCDOT contract and high-quality plants.  In fact... Read More

ERD Flaherty and Robinson

You have an older piece of equipment that needs fixing. Do you repair or replace it? For a household item like a toaster or a radio, it is usually less expensive to buy a new one. But what if you are a large company like Ford, GE, Pepsi, or Boeing?  These companies have large pieces of older electronic equipment that are in need of repair. What do they do?

They turn to Glenn Flaherty, president of ERD Ltd., Inc.  ERD is an engineer-owned and -operated industrial electronic repair company with a customer base of over 5,000. In operation for 20 years, ERD repairs damaged electrical components for clients across the U.S. and in 65 countries.  They service various business sectors including the cruise, manufacturing, energy and semiconductor industries. Their customers include 26 of the world’s Fortune 100 companies.

While ERD repairs all types of industrial and commercial electronics, they are best known for repairing legacy (older) electronics that others claim cannot... Read More

You might say that Andrew Kratz and Joel Graybeal have always aimed for the top. To be more precise, the former Marine and ex-mortgage banker both share a passion for rock climbing.  Kratz was the former High Adventure Instructor at the Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia and opened the first indoor rock climbing gym, Triangle Rock Club (TRC), in 2007. Graybeal was an early TRC client and quickly became friends with Kratz.  In 2011, Graybeal exited the mortgage business and began helping his friend grow TRC – he climbed aboard full-time as a managing partner in 2012.

The owners attribute their success to their focus on the customer experience and the high quality of their staff.  Since 2010, TRC has grown from 21 employees in 2010 to a staff of over 50. In addition to staff growth, revenues have also steadily increased from $330,000 in 2009 to over $1.5 million in 2013. They’ve open up two world class indoor climbing facilities with plans for more.

TRC has faced its... Read More

Stephen T. Forrest
Sandra F. Forrest
Shane R. Gebauer
Brushy Mountain Bee Farm
Moravian Falls NC

SBA-sponsored counseling helps North Carolina Bee Farm generate more “Buzz”

In the pristine mountains in Wilkes County, North Carolina, Steve and Sandy Forrest turned a passion into a business - Brushy Mountain Bee Farm.

The company has grown from a two person operation in 1977 to over 70 employees today. They currently carry an inventory of over 1,000 supply items for the beekeeping enthusiast.   Hives, tools, medications, jars, and protective clothing are just a few of their many products.  From its operational sites in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Brushy Mountain Bee Farm distributes products to both national and international markets.  Sales for 2013 are projected to be 81% higher than 2007 figures.   A new production facility opened in North Wilkesboro in 2013.   Brushy Mountain has taken advantage of SBA-... Read More