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West Virginia District Office Success Stories

West Virginia District Office Success Stories

Gabrielle Bernstein, a motivational speaker, life coach, and author, states “Allow your passion to become your purpose, and it will one day become your profession.” The U.S. Small Business Administration has helped small business owners follow their passion for the last sixty years. 

Walter Lanham, owner and operator of Bridgeport Skate World, credits the U.S. Small Business Administration for helping make his dream - his passion for skating - become his profession nearly 30 years ago.

Why did Lanham want to open a skating rink? It could be because some of his most precious memories include skating. His mom taught him how to skate in the basement of his childhood home by using the handle of an old broom, as a teenager he worked hard to have enough money to buy the skates he used for 28 years, he met his wife at a skate rink, and he drove his daughter to almost every skating rink in the Mid-Atlantic region to participate in dance skating and figure circle skating competitions.  Bridgeport Skate World went on the market for sale in the early 80’s and Lanham knew it was time to finally make his dream of owning a skating rink become a reality.

Lanham was a skilled machinist and tool-maker by trade, but lacked a business background, which was a requirement by the bank to receive a loan.  Lanham knew he could run a skating rink; he had been in more skating rinks than anyone he knew, and he understood how they operated.  The bank advised Lanham he would need SBA to guarantee the loan if he was to have a chance of turning his passion into his profession.

“I knew my business partner, the Lord, would lead me in the right direction,” stated Lanham. “The process of getting my SBA loan approved took nine months – just like having a baby, and came with all the pains too – but with my partner by my side the whole time, it finally happened.”

Over the years, the process of getting an SBA guaranteed loan has been streamlined. For more information on SBA loan guarantee programs visit www.sba.gov or call the SBA West Virginia District Office at 304-623-5631.

Thirty years later, after receiving and paying off his SBA loan, Lanham continues to live his passion.  “Recently, I was able to teach my granddaughter how to skate at just 9 months old at my skating rink,” states Lanham. “My business partner – the Lord, SBA, and hard work has turned my passion into my profession.”