Three existing Tucker County businesses earned the opportunity to turn ideas into reality as a result of the 2018 Tucker County Entrepreneurs’ Pitch Contest.
Joy Malinowski of The Billy Motel placed first in the pitch contest winning $5,000 for her idea of adding a commercial kitchen to her operation. Second place went to Cindy and Jon Robeson of Stumptown Ales. They won $3,000 to purchase and install a Oktober Can Seamer for the brewery. The Parsons Prize of $1,000 went to John and Joyce Bowers of Five River Campground to add another ADA bathhouse to the campground.
The Tucker Community Foundation held the 2018 Tucker County Entrepreneurs’ Pitch Contest on Monday, June 18 at Tucker County High School. A total of nine local entrepreneurs presented innovative ideas to a panel of judges and about 40 community members.
Rob Burns, Executive Director of the Tucker Community Foundation, said the Foundation was excited to sponsor the contest again and encourage entrepreneurs to use their talents to open or expand businesses in the county.
“This event is designed to help entrepreneurs launch their business ideas as well as helping existing businesses improve or expand their services while bringing awareness to Tucker County’s businesses and generating community excitement,” he said. “The Foundation is committed to working with the Tucker County Development Authority and other organizations to provide resources to Tucker County businesses.”
Prior to the nine entrepreneurs presenting their business ideas, Jon Bush, who owns Piccolo Paula’s in Parsons and Big John’s Family Fixins in Canaan Valley with his wife, Paula, spoke about his journey after winning the 2017 Tucker County Entrepreneurs’ Pitch Contest. He won $7,000 to customize the Oak Barrel Sirloin process.
“The new mechanized system for Oak Barrel Sirloin took a five-day process down to two days,” Bush said. “The beef marinates for 48 hours in the oak barrels which are always kept in a cool environment. We are now able to produce 70,000 pounds of Oak Barrel a year.”
Bush created three jobs this past year and anticipates the addition of more employees in the coming year as he launches an e-commerce website to sell his products online. Oak Barrel Sirloin (fully cooked or uncooked) can be purchased at Piccolo Paula’s in Parsons or Highland Market in Davis.
Malinowski, who also owns and operates the Cooper House Bed & Cocktails in Thomas, placed first in the 2018 Tucker County Entrepreneurs’ Pitch Contest. She opened The Billy Motel in 2016 after a year of renovations.
“When I wrote my business plan it included three phases,” she said. “Phase I was to get the motel and bar open and operating smoothly. Phase II involves the installation of a commercial kitchen. I already have some equipment but need financial help to install water, gas and electric in the commercial kitchen.”
Malinowski has more than 25 years of business experience. She provided sample menus that includes small plate offerings with an international theme.
“I want to start small and continue to grow the business,” she said. “I think there is room in Tucker County for another restaurant.”
Currently The Billy Motel has four employees. Malinowski anticipates adding three more people with the addition of a commercial kitchen.
Robeson, who owns Stumptown Ales with her husband Jon, placed second in the pitch contest. She said the brewery started with a 10 gallon brewery system and has upgraded each year. Currently Stumptown Ales has a 10 barrel system.
“We are going to stay small, stay with craft beers and stay in West Virginia,” she told the audience and judges. “This proposal is for a Oktober Can Seamer which will allow us to produce four-packs of beer for people to take home. It will only be sold at the tasting room in Davis.”
Robeson said the brewery will use the prize money to purchase the seamer, cans and labels.
“We currently have about six employees and will add a couple more once we get into full production at our new location,” she said.
A month ago Stumptown Ales announced the relocation of their brewery to the Tucker County Industrial Park. The park is located a few miles east of Davis on W.Va. 48. The move allows for additional fermenters as well as space for the small canning line.
John and Joyce Bowers of Five River Campground won the Parsons Prize. The couple moved to Tucker County in 2004 and opened the campground with the intention of starting a bluegrass festival, Pickin’ in Parsons. Recently, the festival was named as the 2017 Event of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association.
“We are now a 45-acre complex with 120 full service RV/Camper sites and two ADA facilities for campers,” John Bowers said. “With the growth of the festival into a five-day event, we need to add another ADA bathhouse to the campground for our RV and tent campers.”
Bowers said he expects an estimated 4,000 people at this year’s event which is scheduled for July 31 to Aug. 4. Every year the campground keeps up with the festival’s growth by adding more RV sites, he said.
“This year we added 32 full-service RV sites to the campground as compared to a previous years when we added about 16 RV sites,” he said. “We also offer wireless broadband as a service to our campers.”
Sponsors of the 2018 Tucker County Entrepreneurs’ Pitch Contest include: City of Parsons, Grant County Bank, Mountain Valley Bank, N.A., St. George Medical Clinic, Tucker County Chamber of Commerce, Tucker County Development Authority, Tucker County Commission, Vision Shared Inc., Woodlands Community Lenders, WVU Extension Service and WVU Launch Lab.
The Tucker Community Foundation operates in eight counties, Barbour, Grant, Mineral, Pocahontas, Preston, Randolph and Tucker counties in W.Va. and in Garrett County, Md. Inspired by the flood of 1985, the mission of the Foundation is to create opportunities for the communities we serve. For more information on the foundation or how to establish an endowed fund within the service area call 304-478-2930 or visit www.tuckerfoundation.net.