Success Stories

For more than a century Vermont has been known for its dairy industry, but as the state continues to evolve it is increasingly becoming a culinary destination and value added agricultural food producing hub. As New Englanders and beyond become more and more interested in locally grown and produced foods, Vermont small businesses continue to generate delicious fare while also bolstering our local economy and continuing to build off our agricultural roots.

Ploughgate Creamery in Fayston is a prime example of this tradition and evolution. Owned by Marisa Mauro, the creamery opened in 2008 with a cheese making focus before a tragic fire moved the business to its current Northeast Kingdom location in 2012, the same year the creamery transitioned to butter making.

“There aren’t many butter makers in the United States,” Mauro said. “We produce small batch, cultured, artisanal butter.”

While Mauro was passionate about producing quality foods people would enjoy and... Read More

Ryan McDonald, founder and owner of Finn

Not without adventure. It’s a fitting tagline for the three-year-old Finn, a fly fishing goods manufacturer in South Burlington Vt.  

“A friend of mine says it all the time. I feel it is especially true when it comes to running your own business because this is an adventure. Little things pop up all the time. So much is trial and error, but you have to persevere. It’s perseverance that leads you to success,” said Ryan McDonald, founder and owner of Finn.

Along with his partner Jake Sienkiewycz, the two-man shop makes an array of high quality fly fishing goods, including reel cases, side bags, knife rolls and much more.

Brass, canvass, and leather are woven together to create the Huntington Duffel, Streamer Wallet and the Richmond Tube Roll. Both self-taught sewers, items are mostly made by hand except when demand is high in the spring and the Christmas shopping season some items are outsourced to local manufacturers.  Each finished item has a distinct Finn logo... Read More


Over the course of its twenty-year existence, the growers at Red Wagon Plants in Hinesburg have become experts at producing high quality organic plants and vegetables. But as their business evolved owners knew they needed to focus on more than just agriculture to ensure they could also experience healthy business growth.

“Our business is special because it has grown organically over twenty years,” said Red Wagon Plants owner Julie Rubaud. “We believe in what we do and are known for our high quality standards,” she said, adding that she started the plant business “as a way to augment the income to the vegetable farm in 1996. Since then, the plants eclipsed the vegetables.”

 As the plant portion of the business became more integral to the farm’s success, Rubaud came to realize that monitoring budgets, expenses and other overall bookkeeping tasks were proving increasingly important, as well as challenging. The farm, which grows and sells plants at both retail and... Read More

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