In our very first issue of CoVa BIZ, we focus on a type of business that many people can relate to—the small business.
To start, what constitutes a small business? According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, it’s defined as having 500 employees or less. But to us (a little publishing company with approximately 40 employees in our office), 500 doesn’t feel small. So when we set the criteria for these 15 businesses, we concentrated on businesses with 100 employees or less that started in Coastal Virginia, are quickly on the rise and/or exhibit innovative ideas in their business concepts.
The qualities that we found in these small business owners make us confident that their ventures will continue to thrive. These folks are hardworking, often putting in long hours and wearing many different hats. They’re highly motivated, not afraid to try new ideas, take chances or hear the word “no.” And they’re extremely passionate about what they do, ensuring that their businesses are steadily growing and evolving, while maintaining the original drive and excitement that inspired their entrepreneurship in the first place. Read about the obstacles they’ve overcome, the strategies that have elevated their accomplishments and the advice they’re eager to share with current and future small business owners, starting on page 34.
Many factors contribute to the prosperity of a business, but it never hurts to have a strong support system. Bryan Stephens, president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, helps to ensure that local businesses—big and small—are provided the optimal conditions to succeed. He also collaborates with economic development professionals to ensure a strong, robust economy in Coastal Virginia (page 27).
We also visit with Bob Aston, the esteemed CEO of TowneBank, who started small—in his garage, actually—and has built a vision into a billion-dollar company. We think you’ll be inspired by his humble beginnings and his continued ambition to serve others (page 30).
Finally, we get a glimpse into the happy, hectic world of event planning with Patty Ritzi and her husband, Lional Teed, of Premier Events. Premier celebrates their 25th anniversary this year, and Ritzi shares some details that contribute to their business’s popularity—as well as how to make it work when you’re working with family (page 34).
We hope you’ll enjoy our first issue, and we welcome your feedback or suggestions on additional businesses or leader profiles that you’d like to see inside the pages of CoVa BIZ. Because it’s not just our business—it’s your business, too.
Angela Blue, Editor-in-Chief