Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Small Businesses of the Year 2023: Small businesses, big ambitions

Selecting Business North Carolina’s Small Businesses of the Year offers an inspiring look at the entrepreneurial spirit that helps the state thrive. Many of 70 or so nominees offered compelling stories of achievement, but these enterprises topped the judges’ list.

  • Dry Otter Waterproofing, a Lincoln County-based company that protects crawl spaces and basements.
  • VPC Builders, a Banner Elk firm specializing in commercial and residential construction and remodeling in North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina.
  • Taylor’s Wine Shop, a Raleigh convenience store that offers a wide selection of fine wine and craft beer, locally roasted coffees, local products, live bait and gasoline.
  • MODE Consignment Boutique of Raleigh, which enables customers to buy and sell clothing and accessories at affordable prices.

Judges for the contest were Byron Hicks, the state director of the N.C. Small Business and Technology Center; Jennifer Curtis, co-founder and CEO of Firsthand Foods, a Durham distributor for local farms and meat processors, and one of the 2022 Small Businesses of the Year; and Business North Carolina Publisher Ben Kinney.

The judges considered creativity, community impact, persistence and other factors in making the selection. The business had to be in operation for at least five years and have fewer than 100 employees. The four selected businesses employ between 15 and 31 employees. “This was not an easy job to select just four,” says Curtis.

Judges also noted their favorites: “MODE management went through an extensive rebranding and overcame significant obstacles in moving locations, twice, and through all of this was able to increase sales,” says Hicks. Taylor’s Wine Shop rose to the top of the list for Curtis because of “their family owned business model, their connection to place and community, and that they have grown a fixed retail business during difficult times. They have a colorful story to tell and some hard-won lessons learned.”

This marks the 28th year Business North Carolina has published the Small Business of the Year award, sponsored this year by Duke Energy. The goal is to honor smaller businesses that form the backbone of the state’s economy.

The state had more than 157,000 companies with between one and 19 employees in 2022, about 2,000 more than the year before, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. There were also about 816,000 sole proprietorships.

Click on the images below to read about this year’s Small Businesses of the Year.

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