Success Stories

Tom Stearns

A seed is much like Vermont. It is small but it is powerful.

Whether he is speaking of his business or his seeds, Tom Stearns does so passionately. That passion is one of the many reasons why the Vermont Small Business Person of the Year, is awarded to Stearns, High Mowing Organic Seeds founder and owner.

He is being recognized for growing his company, increasing sales, employee growth and contributing to the local community. A celebration of Stearns and all the 2016 SBA winners took place Thursday, June 16 at the Country Club of Vermont in Waterbury Center.

Each year since 1963, the Small Business Administration’s Vermont District Office has awarded the Small Business Person of the Year. High Mowing Organic Seeds joins the ranks of other previous state winners including as Switchback Brewing Co, Vermont Teddy Bear, and Ben & Jerry’s.

Along with High Mowing Organic Seeds, six other businesses were selected as SBA winners this year:... Read More

AO Glass

Combining art, utility and passion into a viable business can be a serious challenge. Few know that better than Rich Arentzen and Tove Ohlander, owners of AO Glass LLC, a production glass studio in the heart of Burlington’s Pine Street arts district. Still, they decided to tackle that challenge “in order to take a passion and turn it into a sustainable business,” Arentzen said.

But they didn’t have to do it alone. Arentzen and Ohlander looked to Vermont Small Business Development Center Area Advisor Steve Densham “in order to blow glass while making a living,” Arentzen said. The company needed better planning skills and better focus on core business matters and “existential goals,” Arentzen said. They also sought a better understanding of accessing capital, business growth and business life cycle, he said.

The business owners and Densham worked together on these matters and with diligence and time were able to overcome the challenges the practicing the dynamic craft... Read More


Steven Davis of Vermont High Performance Manufactured Housing in Wilder is no stranger to the construction business. He has been building homes for more than 30 years, most recently providing affordable net-zero green home construction services to Vermont homeowners and beyond.

But when he recently decided to purchase a permanent home for his own business, he knew it was time to seek some assistance. Davis was seeking funds to purchase a building to house his home manufacturing business. Once he found a location, seeking funds to purchase that location proved challenging, he said.

Davis quickly sought assistance from the Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation. GMEDC recommended Davis contact Vermont Small Business Development Center Area Advisor Ross Hart, who shepherded him through the sometimes tedious process of a business property purchase. “Working with Ross (Hart) was great because he was not intimidating,” Davis said. “He helped me understand where I... Read More

Logging and forestry work is a quintessential Vermont industry, but today’s loggers face challenges that those of yesteryear probably never imagined. The days of low cost tools like hatchets and hand saws that required manpower instead of costly equipment are largely behind us. Today’s loggers need heavy equipment to be relevant in a highly competitive lumber market.

Few know that better than Everett Thurston, owner of Thurston Forestry in Clarendon, which began operations last fall. The company utilizes a rubber tired cut-to-length logging machine that is highly efficient in processing timber from the woods. “I have always wanted to my own business and enjoy the logging industry and being around heavy equipment,” Thurston said.

But as one might expect, obtaining an expensive piece of equipment of this size can be a challenge. That’s why Thurston sought the help of Vermont Small Business Development Center Area Advisor Brian DeClue. As he sought funding for the... Read More