ABINGDON, Va. — A tiny house builder, a 3-D printing studio and an art studio were the top winners of the fourth annual Washington County Business Challenge Thursday.
The challenge asks locals with existing businesses or new business ideas to sign up to win up to $5,000. Around 18 people applied this year, but only six winners were chosen. The winners were presented with checks Thursday at the county’s Chamber of Commerce Breakfast.
Brian Zier, of Damascus, was the first place start-up winner with his business Trail Town Tiny Houses. Zier will build tiny houses on wheels that are constructed on trailers so they are mobile. He first got the idea after he and his wife considered building one to downsize.
He said the challenge helped him organize his business plan and develop his ideas.
Zier’s end goal is to have an entire village of tiny houses that can work like campground, with some being used as rentals and space available to park others nearby.
He received $5,000, a year’s membership to the Chamber of Commerce, half-price rent for one year at the Virginia Highlands Small Business Incubator, one year of certified public accountant services from Abingdon-based Spiegler Blevins & Co., and free preparation and filing of all new business formation documents from Wes Boggs of Abingdon-based attorneys Penn Stuart.
“It’s amazing. It’s awesome and amazing,” Zier said.
For the first time, there was a tie in the business category, which means there were two first place winners. Stephen Harris, with Appalachian Drafting, and Lindsey Holderfield, with Paper Moon Studio, each received $5,000 and a one-year membership to the chamber.
Even though Paper Moon Studio has been open for more than two years, Holderfield said the challenge taught her a lot about business, like how to make a plan and stick to it.
“It’s easy to get bogged down when you’re running a business,” she said.
Harris said he was grateful for the opportunity the challenge presented.
“They helped me with the business of running a business,” he said.
The other winners in the start-up category were Mohsin Kasmi’s food truck The Pakalachian, which won $1,500 and a chamber membership, and Denise Peterson’s floral shop The Blue Door Garden, which won $500.
Frank Cardinell’s technology repair store, The ReCell Shop, was the second place existing business winner. He received $1,500 and a chamber membership, while Marla Edwards’ Crooked Road General Store rounded out the existing business category with the $500 prize.
The Pakalachian also picked up a new award, the Wal-Mart Pitch Night Challenge, for having the best business pitch. He won an additional $1,000.