MONTPELIER, Vt. – The Small Business Administration announced the 2014 Vermont small business award winners Thursday.
The highest honor, the Vermont Small Business Persons of the Year, is awarded to Bill Cherry and Jeff Neiblum, Switchback Brewery Co., for growing their brewery, expanding the brand, increasing sales, employee growth and contributing to their local community.
“The SBA has had a long relationship with Switchback,” said Darcy Carter, SBA Vermont District Office Director. “He was able to achieve his dream of opening a brewery with an SBA loan and guidance from his friend Jeff. Over the next 12 years, Switchback obtained several more SBA loans to expand the brewery company, produce more ale and hire more employees.”
Switchback is a brewery based in Burlington, Vt. Its flagship beer is an unfiltered ale sold throughout the state and distributed in areas of New Hampshire and Maine as well.
“Switchback is very deserving of this award,” said Carter. “The judges had a very competitive field to choose from. This year there were some great candidates and several having name recognition Vermonters know well and love, but Switchback’s story stood out the most.”
Switchback started in 2002. Initially its products were only sold in kegs, but began bottling in 2012.
“It seems to be everywhere now. It’s in every Vermont grocery store, restaurant, bar and ski resort. You drive down I-89 and you see Switchback trucks,” said Carter. “It’s an impressive achievement.”
Cherry and Neiblum will be recognized during the 2014 Vermont Small Business Awards Ceremony cohosted by Vermont Business Magazine from 4 to 7 p.m. June 17 at the Shelburne Museum Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education located in Shelburne, Vt.
"I'm excited to accept this award for Switchback,” said Cherry. “Switchback would not be in this position if it wasn’t for Jeff convincing me to start a brewery, great employees brewing a Vermont ale and the SBA backing loans so the brewery could expand.”
The other 2014 Vermont winners are Sidehill Farm as the Family-Owned Business of the Year, The Bees Knees as the Woman-Owned Business of the Year, Vermont Bean Crafters as the Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Grow Compost of Vermont as the Micro-Enterprise of the Year and Super Thin Saws as the Exporter of the Year.
“Congratulations to all of the winners,” said Carter. “Each one is deserving of their respective award. We look forward to honoring all the winners during our annual event.”
Registration for the ceremony will be available in May.
Each year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. During National Small Business Week, May 12 to 16, Switchback will compete against the other state and U.S. territory small business winners for National Small Business Person of the Year. The SBA is a federal agency assisting small businesses start, grow and prosper.
For more information about the 2014 Vermont small business award winners, call 802-828-4422.