April 29, 2015
One hundred years ago, an entrepreneur in St. Paul, Minn., had a little idea that wound up changing everyday business across the world – the checkbook. When W.R. Hotchkiss first introduced this product in 1915, he had no idea it would grow into one of the largest providers of financial and small-business marketing services in America – Deluxe Corporation.
Throughout the years, the company has evolved, but at its core, the purpose remains to help businesses, entrepreneurs and financial institutions thrive. As the company celebrates its centennial year, it’s taking on a documentary project that spotlights 100 small business across the country called “The Small Business Revolution.” Through photo essays and mini-docs, captured by award-winning documentarians whose works have appeared in TIME, National Geographic and the like, the stories bring to life these entrepreneurs’ passion and dedication.
Fast Horse has the honor of helping tell the stories of these hard working and dedicated entrepreneurs. And with Small Business Week (May 4–8) just around the corner, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite features.
Shack Up Inn
Guy Malvezzi and Bill Talbot had converted an old Mississippi bluesman’s shack into a hangout spot outside Clarksdale, MS, when visitors started asking about the unique landmark. They realized there was demand to spend time in the funky old building, so they started hauling in shacks from across the heart of blues country. The site has turned into a ramshackle but chic “beer and breakfast” that caters to music fans from around the world. The Shack Up Inn’s eclectic style has caught the eye of travelers and the media across the world — a testament to the strength of their vision and commitment to their ideals. They’ve found a niche and have grown a thriving small business in it.
Andrew was diagnosed with depression at age 9 and remained withdrawn, even after trying numerous medications and therapists. Unsure where to turn, Andrew’s mother brought him to Spirit Reins – a local ranch that harnesses the therapeutic power of horses – where Andrew experienced a life-changing and powerful bond with a horse named Joey, which itself had fearfully avoided human contact. Liberty Hill-based Spirit Reins is using “equine therapy” to change the lives of Central Texas children like Andrew, many of whom have been in foster care or have experienced traumas such as sexual abuse. The therapy is tailored to each child’s needs, and it’s based on neuroscience that shows how interactions with horses helps kids repair the damage that trauma causes their brains.
American Bicycle Group
After a career in banking and consulting, Peter Hurley was laid low by bypass surgery at age 44. After recovering, he reoriented his life around fitness, and eventually became CEO of American Bicycle Group, a manufacturer of world-class bicycles. Its titanium Litespeed bikes and Quintana Roo brand attract cycling enthusiasts, but with small marketing budgets, the company relies on its employees — even its CEO — to live the cycling lifestyle and truly be brand ambassadors. Their growth is a reflection of their strongly held beliefs in the products and the cycling life. They’re also experts in titanium manufacturing, and even created legs for NASA’s Mars Rover.