Small Business Stories
As 2106 comes to a close we have seen a lot of good news coming out of Connecticut’s small business sector. Below you will find some of our favorite stories from the past couple months. If you want to learn more about the growth of small businesses here in Connecticut check out this piece from our blog.
Entrepreneurs / Startups
SOUTHINGTON - Bradley Mountain Soaps has turned into a successful small business and a fun family attraction. While owner Anneliese Dadras is happy with the growth of her soaps and lotion business, Dadras is even more thrilled with the interaction with the community since she moved to the farm.
CHESIRE - An inspirational story of a young entrepreneur working from the ground up to start her own business.
SHELTON - This Connecticut-based mattress company has no showrooms and fewer than 50 employees, yet in five years they were able to grow sales to $70 million which made them the fastest growing private company in the state.
STAMFORD - Sometimes the hardest part of ordering in is deciding where to order from. This startup is changing that. You can think of Flavorism as Amazon.com for restaurants. First, customers pick out and combine dishes in one order from the various menus from flavorism.com, and then food is prepared at the Flavorism complex and delivered to your door. The Flavorism kitchen delivers to customers in Stamford, Greenwich and Darien.
DANBURY - “Do a job that no one wants and do it with excellence and you’ll always have work” – Great words of advice that are inspiring this entrepreneur.
FAIRFIELD - We've all have had moments that seem pulled from an infomercial: Fumbling with a task and left wondering if there is a better way. Two local women are hoping to make that feeling a thing of the past when it comes to eggs. Bonnie Tyler and Sheila Torgan, both of Fairfield, recently launched a Kickstarter for their product "The Negg," a contraption that seemingly strips a hardboiled egg of its shell with a few shakes. Within 24 hours of launching the project on Oct. 26, the duo found they had successfully covered their $7,500 funding goal and then some.
Co-working Spaces & Makerspaces
HARTFORD - Makerspace is a broad term that generally describes a communal space where a group of collaborators or "makers" work on projects in a variety of mediums, from woodworking and metalworking to computer coding and electronics. Having Makerspace CT in Coltsville would be a great asset to the community and an appropriate way to honor the long history of ingenuity surrounding the Coltsville complex.
HARTFORD- A new workspace for start-up ventures opened for business, drawing the first entrepreneurs with a wide variety of ideas. Businesses will pay $300 a month for workspace, Wi-Fi, opportunities to meet and work with other start-up founders, and free coffee.
GROTON - The CURE Innovation Commons, a new science and technology incubator will include 22,000 square feet of commercial-grade laboratory, office and co-working spaces.
HARTFORD - Entrepreneur Josh Westbrook took up shoe-making in March 2013 and today the industry that inspired his business supports him by sporting his shoes. Hip-hop artists like Slick Rick, Killer Mike, and Connecticut native Apathy are a few that have worn Brothers Crisp shoes.
DANBURY - Thanks to a Regional Initiative Arts Grant from the Connecticut Office of the Arts, a new retail and design co-op featuring local designers and sustainable fashions has opened.
HARTFORD - The Gale sisters were born and raised in Hartford and now they are using the power of the press to create positive vibes in the local community. A shaded Connecticut outline with a heart in the center adorns the top seller at Hartford Prints. It's a faded, gray T-shirt with the phrase, "Small State Big Heart.”
HARTFORD - Ben and Joy Braddock achieved their goal of owning their own business and helping revitalize a Hartford neighborhood when they opened up Hog River Brewing in the Parkville section Hartford. Their next goal: For Hog River Brewing to become “Hartford’s living room.”
WEST HARTFORD - Last year New Park Brewing took home the 2015 Taster's Choice Award at the Noah Webster Real Ale Harvest Fest. Now the craft brewery has found a new home on New Park Avenue in West Hartford
BRANFORD - “The Stand” in Branford was converted from a gas station into what is now a one-of-a-kind community dining experience complete with pulled pork, brisket, ribs, mac & cheese and many other savory favorites. The Stand” also has a farmer’s market, breakfast cart, and musical acts on weekends!
BRIDGEPORT- For more than a decade, the former Fairfield County News newspaper warehouse sat mostly vacant. A one-time paperboy, and now Brewport owner Bruce Barrett said he had feeling of nostalgia for the large, single-story brick building, and in 2000 he bought it. With its cavernous surroundings, open ceiling and rows of tables and booths, Brewport is going to attract people from around the state to Bridgeport
A staple ingredient in beer, the crop is making a comeback in Connecticut following its disappearance during the Prohibition era. Now, as more and more craft breweries open in Connecticut, many local farmers are beginning to grow hops.
GREENWICH - On a trip to a Vermont maple farm, Adam Lazar was baffled by the amount of water discarded during sap collection. "I said, 'Wait a minute, there is a thirsty world and you are telling me this happens every year?'" Lazar said. "The light bulb went off."
REDDING - Building on the success of its South Norwalk venture, the owners of Washington Prime have expanded with the opening of a second restaurant on Main Street in the Georgetown section of Redding.
PLANTSVILLE - 42 W. Main St. underwent major renovations before Tavern 42 Burgers Brew & ‘Que opened up. Restauaunt owners Barry DePaolo and Cheryl Moran removed walls, redecorated and added reclaimed wood to the renovated restaurant. The new, open layout can accommodate more than 150 people on the main floor and more with the addition of patio furniture on a back deck overlooking the Quinnipiac River.
OXFORD - The ‘E’ in OEC Brewing may stand for eccentric, but it could just as well stand for experimenters. It can take six months to two years to create one flavor and each version of a brew is only offered for a short period of time.
DANBURY - Owner Joseph Yorio set out to create an atmosphere that never wavers from the traditional barbecue. Even the bar is stocked with selections that pair well with the smoky meats and bold sauces, Yorio said.
NEW BRITIAN - Steve Amato has run Amato’s Toy and Hobby on Main Street in New Britain for 42 years. After Mr. Amato saw the devastation from the Louisiana flooding he decided to pack up a U-Haul and hand deliver hundreds of toys to the victims. An amazing act of generosity from a local small business owner.
MADISON - Since 1952 Ferraro’s Market has been a staple of New Haven. Now, the grocer has opened a micro-store in Madison. This is not the first time in recent years the business has expanded its operations. In December, the grocery store took its wares on the road and began selling meats out of a specially designed Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Cargo van that is stationed in a Wallingford business parking lot at 805 N. Colony Road.
STAMFORD - In 1997, the family opened DiMare Pastry Shop and Cafe on Largo Drive in the Springdale section of Stamford. They opened another shop last year on Spring Street in downtown Stamford, in a partnership with Volta Gelateria and Creperia next door
STAMFORD - The rise of big box stores and e-commerce put many local electronics stores out of business. Stamford’s County TV & Appliance was able to survive continuously as a family-run business since 1951 thanks to hard work and a focus on customer service.
NORWALK - Founded in 1969 as a Norwalk dairy store by Stew Leonard Sr., Stew Leonard’s is now one of Connecticut’s most successful family-owned businesses.
PLAINVILLE - After three months of renovations, Lessard Lanes on New Britain Avenue is fully open with 28 lanes of bowling and a new indoor miniature golf course.
NEW HAVEN - In 1980 Mike Vespoli was named the Olympic men’s sculling coach. Now retired from coaching, Vespoli has carried the idea of teamwork to his New Haven based businesses, “Vespoli USA” which manufacturers competitive rowing shells.
BETHEL - Ride-Glide is now the exclusive supplier of lubricants and anti-corrosives for many spin studios, including the well-known SoulCycle. Ride-Glide products are also sold at several bike shops, including in the local area. Ridgefield Bicycle Co. on Danbury Road in Ridgefield not only sells the products, but uses them in its service department.
BERLIN- Precision Punch operates in the rarefied space of manufacturing known as "capital equipment'' production, which means customers capitalize on its products to enhance their machinery for churning out products sold to commercial and residential end-users. Berlin's Precision Punch Corp has been in business for 51 years and is still growing!
SOUTHINGTON - Veterans account for about 9 percent of Yarde Metals workforce of 600, 400 of whom work in the company's Southington headquarters. Yarde Metals is a great example of how employers can benefit by hiring veterans when seeking workers.
FARMIGNTON - There is nothing fancy about what family-owned CSS makes — springs and stamped and machined parts of varying sizes and applications. But their dedication to the "lean'' manufacturing process has enabled them to compete in the U.S. and abroad for the last 77 years.
BARKHAMSTED - U.S. and allied soldiers for years have relied on a bit of Connecticut lifting-towing technology to clear foreign battlefields of destroyed or disabled Army troop and equipment carriers. Earlier this year Connecticut-based “Tru-Hitch” landed another Army contract, valued at $7.4 million, for repair and refurbishment of 90 of their towing-hauling systems.
BLOOMFIELD - Founded in 1955, STM manufactures metalized fabrics. Their fabrics are electrically conductive, reflective, anti-static, and anti-bacterial, and protect against a variety of radar, radio, and electromagnetic interference waves. Swift Textile has been growing 15% every year and they already employ 65 people with 25 of them in production. If Swift continues to grow at this pace, they will need more staff next year.
Small Businesses Development
NEW HAVEN - New Haven's Ninth Square has become a vibrant urban neighborhood, a place for art, food, tech start-ups and street fun. Thanks to imagination and patience, 94 percent of the retail space in Ninth Square is leased. People with varied incomes live there, not the norm in much of Connecticut. We hope to replicate the success of New Haven’s Ninth Square neighborhood in other towns through Connecticut’s new Innovation Places program.
PUTNAM - Back in the 1980s and ‘90s, the antiques business put the small former mill town of Putnam, Connecticut on the map. Now the town is going through changes that are attracting tourists from across New England. There are a number of events and festivals throughout the year, such as the themed First Fridays with vendors all along Main Street.
HARTFORD - Private investment, nonprofit and public infrastructure efforts, years of planning, fundraising, and zoning decisions are really starting to show fruit in the amount of construction that is taking place citywide.
BLOOMFIELD - The town is in the midst of its biggest commercial-residential development surge in nearly a generation. This year alone, Bloomfield has seen developers declare their intent to erect more than 500 luxury and age-restricted apartments over the next few years. As of September 30, Bloomfield led surveyed Connecticut cities and towns in housing permits
According to the Connecticut Department of Labor, business and labor conditions improved in most towns and cities last year as Connecticut's economic recovery continued to take hold.
The Connecticut Port Authority is focusing on the lower Connecticut River Valley's economy and quality of life. Small river communities have been "the heart and soul of Connecticut" and are part of the state's future.
Last year the General Assembly enacted legislation establishing competitive grant funding to create so-called Innovation Places, which will bring together hospitals, universities and high-tech startups to grow well-paid, high-skilled jobs.
Connecticut Innovations, the state's venture capital fund, has reported that investments of nearly $31 million in high-tech businesses have drawn more than triple that amount from other investors. Connecticut Innovations is focused on the technology sector, including bioscience and green energy startups. Jobs in those industries are traditionally higher paying and longer-lasting.
Revolution Lighting Technologies are the newest beneficiaries of Eversource’s Small Business Energy Advantage Program. The program helps small businesses save money by identifying and implementing efficient energy plans, and encouraging the replacement of existing equipment with more effective options.
The grant allows the winners to conduct research to help better understand the needs of local entrepreneurs and create an environment to attract and retain innovative business owners.