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Local company receives Success Award at annual SBDC ceremony

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Local company receives Success Award at annual SBDC ceremony

By Jeanné Schaser

THATCHER, AZ—Pace Gardens, a lawn and garden retail and landscaping company owned and operated by Matt and Sarah Pace of Thatcher, was one of thirteen Arizona small businesses honored at the 2010 Success Awards ceremony hosted by the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network at the North Lawn of the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix last week. Pace Gardens was nominated for the award by Mike Fox, director of the Eastern Arizona College Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

The Paces opened their business in Thatcher in early 2008, and it soon began to take off. But after the local mine laid off several thousand employees and other businesses began cutting employee hours, their sales suffered dramatically. That’s when Matt and Sarah recognized a growing need in their community for commercial landscaping and clean-up services. They worked with local businesses to provide maintenance and clean-up in their parking lots and common areas. By recognizing a need and pursuing it, they were able to not just survive, but thrive. Only a year after starting Pace Gardens, the Paces had doubled their amount of employees.

“Our biggest obstacle was getting start-up money,” Matt said. He worked with the SBDC and Mike Fox, who helped them write, review and improve their business plan, as well as market projections, inventory, and financial information for their loan. They were turned down for more than one loan, but they stayed persistent, and eventually they obtained a loan.

“Fox helped us a ton,” continues Matt. “He helped us write a business plan with a clear vision, and he made me think about what I wanted the business to look like, what I really wanted to do, and what it would take to get there. The SBDC helped me find vendors, and offered training on QuickBooks and quarterly taxes, and they were really good about following up.”

The AZSBDC Network is Arizona’s most accessible source of assistance for small businesses, with 19 offices located throughout Arizona. Success Award winners worked with an AZSBDC Network Center, like the one at EAC, to achieve their goals and are chosen for their outstanding economic performance during the previous year (2009).

“[The awards] are an exceptional opportunity to recognize and applaud small business achievement,” according to AZSBDC State Director Janice Washington. “The accomplishments of this year’s winners is especially noteworthy, given the tough economic climate that we have all been faced with over the past year. Each is a true economic champion and a real success story. Their collective achievements demonstrate everything that is positive about small business growth in Arizona.”