By Lindsey Adkison
The Brunswick News, Ga.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced earlier in the week that the third week in February is Georgia’s Small Business Week, celebrating the 865,649 registered small businesses in the state. One of those entrepreneurs includes Bakery owner Pam Taylor one of the State’s many wonderful women in business.
Pam Taylor looked at the line quickly forming at her counter, then she smiled.
“Everyone always comes in together. I think folks wait outside until they can all come in together,” she told her customers with a laugh.
But it didn’t take long for the owner of Pam Pam’s Cupcakes on Newcastle Street in Brunswick to take care of each customer, sending them off with their sweet treat of choice.
It’s a dance Taylor does day in and day out. And as a small business owner, it’s something that she does with joy. That’s not to say, however, that she doesn’t face plenty of obstacles.
“I’m as small as they come. It’s just me. I do have one employee who comes in and helps me out. She sells the cupcakes and helps me clean up. I do all of the baking myself so it’s a mess,” she said.
Like so many other small business owners, Taylor also has a busy personal life. She takes care of her mother, who is in her 90s, which can be a full-time job in and of itself.
“I close up at 6:30 p.m. and take care of my mom until about 9 p.m., then I go to sleep and set my alarm to wake up at 1:30 a.m. and I go check on my mom, then I go back to sleep until about 5:30 a.m. then I get up and come into the shop,” she said.
She stays there, sometimes even making an early morning run to Jacksonville for supplies, then prepares for the day until it’s time to attend Mass at St. Francis Xavier in downtown Brunswick.
“I go to Mass every day except Wednesdays. That’s how I get through,” she laughed. “But then, I come back and open up at 10 a.m.”
For small business owners like Taylor, it all pays off, not only from the profits but also from the pride that comes with being their own boss. And this week entrepreneurs are being honored for that hard work and contributions to their communities.
Gov. Nathan Deal announced earlier in the week that the third week in February is Georgia’s Small Business Week, celebrating the 865,649 registered small businesses in the state. Most of these companies are powered exclusively by their owners and a handful of dedicated employees. Out of all the small businesses in the state, 77.7 percent of those have fewer than 10 employees.
In Glynn County, there are 3,334 businesses, with business officials estimating 90 percent of those classify as small businesses. That definition, however, varies. According to the Small Business Administration, a “small business” is generally defined as having fewer than 500 employees for manufacturing companies and less than $7.5 million in annual revenue for non-manufacturing businesses. Other resources define “small businesses” as any company with 100 or fewer employees.
But for Dave Snyder, a true small business is defined by the way its owner is able to connect with customers and employees. The owner of Tramici and Halyards on St. Simons Island has piloted dining establishments for well over a decade, 16 years at Halyards and eight years for Trimici.
Between the two restaurants and their catering offshoots, they employ 80 people. While the company is larger than some, Snyder has been able to connect with both. It’s an element, he says, that makes small businesses special.
“I think it’s the intimacy of knowing most of our guests and getting to know them on a personal level. I’ve watched customers’ children grow up,” he said.
“And our staff too … we had a guy who worked here for eight years. He had some substance abuse problems but then he put himself through college and nursing school. Now he works as a nurse in the emergency room. If I worked at General Motors, I don’t think I’d get to hear or see those stories. It’s one of the best parts … creating that family.”
While building bonds is a blessing for Snyder, there are plenty of challenges that come with owning a small business. For him, competing with national companies and their substantially larger budgets tops the list.
“The biggest challenge, for me, is competing against the national chains and their marketing budgets. They just have so many more resources than I do,” he said.
Even so, Snyder is quick to add that small business owners have something that larger corporations often don’t — camaraderie. While they may technically compete, he says that locally, entrepreneurs work hard to support one another and the community as a whole.
“We have a strong network and we help each other. We’re all in this together and we do business with each other first. I don’t go to a chain for office supplies, I call Smith over in Brunswick who has been there for 30 years,” Snyder said.
“When I go to dinner, I don’t go to a chain. I go to Del Sur or Delaney’s or Crab Daddy’s. And they come here. So it’s that supporting of one another … I don’t know, but I assume that doesn’t happen in big cities.”
The support small businesses give one another in Glynn County transcends and helps to build the county as a whole. Woody Woodside, president of the Brunswick Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce, says that these men, women and companies they build are truly the foundation of the area.
“You’ve heard it so many times — ‘small businesses are the backbone of economy.’ But it’s true,” he said.
“This country is supported by small businesses and so is Glynn County. The jobs it creates and the tax base it creates are critical to Glynn County, and to the state.”