By Lydia Defranchi
What do a pizza parlor and a sailing school have in common? Well for one, they’re both creating jobs in a tough economy. A recent Gallup poll shows Americans trust small and local business owners most to create jobs. Many people believe the answer to turning the economy around might just lie in your own hometown.
“The varnished teak, the salt air and the seagulls,” said Todd Frye, founder of the Bonneville School of Sailing. “It was pretty hard not to say this is something I’d like to pursue”
Todd Frye dreamed of sailing the open seas ever since that first experience, but it wasn’t until after he retired that the dream became a reality in 2007, when he and his wife Louise started the school on Utah Lake.
The Fryes financed the start-up company with their own retirement savings, and they’ve been learning the tricks of the business trade at a nearby center that provided training and contacts. Many small businesses sink within their first year, but with a little bit of help from the Orem Small Business Development Center and a lot of hard work, the Fryes have managed to not just keep their business afloat, they’re planning to continue to expand.
At this point, Bonneville Sailing has hired five people, and it looks like many are noticing the efforts of business owners like the Fryes. Slab Pizza owner Eric Beutler says personal interaction with customers helps to build trust in the community.
“Our customers get to talk to Andy and I, the other owner, whenever they come in the door,” Beutler said. “They see us here working.”
Slab has hired eight people since opening in the middle of the recession two years ago. Beutler said the restaurant plans to apply sound business practices to maintain its steady growth.
“A lot of small businesses try to grow too fast,” he said. “We’re not a flash-in-the-pan type of operation. We want to establish ourselves, and we want to be here a long time.”
Looking towards the future, Ken Fakler, the director of the Orem Small Business Development Center, said he has great faith in local businesses.
“Small business is the cornerstone of America, and as those small businesses grow, they hire more and more employees,” he said. “They spend their profits in the community, which can generate more jobs in the community.”
The Fryes recently closed for the winter, but it winter won’t be too much of a vacation; they’ll be developing new plans for the next season and hiring new instructors.
“We work harder,” Frye said. “We’ve got a reputation to uphold and enhance, and put our best foot forward and I think people expect that.”
The Orem SBDC is funded by the federal and state government and run by UVU, so the services it provides are free. But Fakler said the classes fill up fast, so it’s important to sign up soon if you’re thinking you might need their help.