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SBA Client Returns to 200-year-old Family Tradition with help from the West Virginia Small Business Development Center

SBDC Coach Terry Cyfers, J.Q. Dickinson Co-Owner Nancy Bruns, SBA District Director Karen Friel

Entrepreneurship and salt-making runs in the blood of brother-sister duo Nancy Bruns and Lewis Payne. In 2013 the two came together and formed J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works to revive their 200-year-old family trade of salt-making in Malden, West Virginia. And we’re excited they took our resource partner, the West Virginia Small Business Development Center (SBDC), along for the ride.

The Dickinson family first drilled for brine in 1817. They stopped making salt in 1945 but continued drilling minerals until the 1980’s. Bruns could count back at least seven generations of entrepreneurs in her family, including herself who before opening J.Q. Dickinson owned a restaurant and catering company in North Carolina.

The hills of West Virginia called Bruns home and she states the business idea came as an “itch that wouldn’t go away.” SBDC Coach Terry Cyfers was there to help Bruns turn that itch into a successful business that blew through their five year projections in two years.

Bruns and Cyfers had consistent meetings to work through financial statements, organizational development, and many other challenges that come with managing a small business. “I can say without a doubt I wouldn’t be as well organized and confident without my partnership with the SBDC,” states Bruns.

“Nancy is a dream client and we have been successful working together for two reasons: first she wanted to be coached, she took what we talked about in our sessions and implemented it; second, and probably the most important with any client, trust – she trusted me as she knew I was there to help her,” stated Cyfers when asked what it was like working with Bruns.

J.Q. Dickinson currently employs five full time employees and two part time employees. Bruns has a growth plan to expand the event business, increase the retail and distribution of their current products, and add new products. The business currently sells their products through their website and 600+ retailers and restaurants across the United States.

While growing J.Q. Dickinson Bruns will continue to support the local economy by buying needed products locally.  The business is passionate about their local community of Kanawha County and work to support initiatives to encourage West Virginians to eat healthier. They believe awareness of the land and where their food is sourced is deeply connected to a healthy community. Two percent of their net profits are donated to organizations to help that cause.

Visit www.sba.gov/wv to learn more about programs and services offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Company Name: 
J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Work
Location: 
Malden, West Virginia