This year’s SCORE Small Business Awards recognized five local businesses that demonstrated resiliency, leadership and excellence in the face of crisis. Each of the winners found creative ways to pivot during the pandemic and not only persevere, but foster growth and innovation.
SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon provides free business advice to entrepreneurs with future business ideas, small businesses that want to improve their results and nonprofit organizations that are working hard to deliver their mission. In 2021, the chapter’s 80 volunteer mentors helped over 700 businesses in the area.
The 2022 Small Business Award Winners
Bixler Blooms, LLC.
Marla Bixler started working with SCORE mentors Joann Brayman and Fred Engle in 2015 to grow her floral business, which was called The Sunflower Lady at the time. The business rebranded to Bixler Blooms, LLC. in 2019. As COVID unfolded and the wedding and floral industries struggled, Marla was unsure of how to keep her business afloat. Her son, who is a business student, told her that the businesses that will survive the crisis are the ones that are willing to pivot and adapt. With this in mind, Marla utilized one of her other talents – singing – to offer Blooms & Tunes during Mother’s Day 2020. Along with a bouquet of flowers, the mothers received a video serenade from Marla, who will be offering Blooms & Tunes again this Mother’s Day. Marla also opened a roadside stand and began crafting paper flowers. Her efforts proved to work; last year, she provided her talents for 84 weddings. For more information, visit bixlerblooms.com.
Fontana Candle Company
Husband-and-wife team Eric and Katie Roering and their business, Fontana Candle Co., overcame the death of Katie’s father, an injury that caused Eric to need months of physical rehabilitation, a surgery after Katie was diagnosed with melanoma and, of course, a pandemic. Despite these challenges, Katie and Eric found their niche in a crowded industry and have grown exponentially, with the help of their mentor, Jeff Eberts. As health and wellness became a huge topic of conversation during the pandemic, Katie and Eric began educating consumers about the toxins in many candles. Transparency and education about their candles’ ingredients became pillars of their business. In early 2020, Katie and Eric adapted their business model to focus on online sales right before the pandemic, which resulted in 700% growth while most other businesses were experiencing a decline in sales. In 2021, Katie and Eric took their business beyond candles, by adding essential oils, bath soaks and home sprays. For more information, visit fontanacandlecompany.com.
Lancaster Law Group, LLC.
Lancaster Law Group, founded by Joseph McMahon and Shawnee Burton, focuses on family and criminal law. As lawyers with limited experience in starting their own business, their mentor, Jerry Glenn, helped to streamline financials and provide a business-focused approach to running the law firm. Joseph and Shawnee also wanted to challenge the rigid working practices presented by most law firms. The importance of flexibility and being family-oriented proved important while working from home during the pandemic. Joseph and Shawnee wanted to ensure their employees could enjoy a work-life balance and implemented practices such as a “no working on your birthday” rule. The law firm has been met with success and is moving into a new office on King Street across from the courthouse. For more information, visit lawlancaster.com.
Taylor Chip Cookies
Husband-and-wife Doug and Sara Taylor started Taylor Chip Cookies in 2018 from an idea that came from a date-night activity and a love for cookies. The couple tested cookie recipes for a year before they finally found the perfect way to create a cookie with a golden-brown crust and gooey center. After providing cookies for special occasions and eventually opening a stand at Lancaster Marketplace, their business quickly evolved into a highly recognized brand. Mentors Richard Hendricks and Lou Davenport helped the duo to sort through the confusion of starting their own business. During the pandemic, they quickly pivoted to ecommerce and focused on social media marketing, which resulted in a 350% increase in sales last year. In addition to their two retail locations, Taylor Chip Cookies received a grant from the Pennsylvania Dairy Investment program to open a creamery in West Hempfield Township, which is expected to open in late 2022. For more information, visit taylorchip.com.
The Edible Classroom
The Edible Classroom, founded by Beth Horst and Grace Julian in 2017, is a nonprofit organization that partners with schools to create and sustain gardens where children, families and communities engage with nutritious food. Children are taught how to grow and prepare their own food, from seed to table. When schools were shuttered during COVID, they shared their produce with food banks and gave seeds to local families to grow their own food. With the help of their mentor Bob Thomas, The Edible Classroom has grown to serve 3,000 students and opened 15 school gardens in the Lancaster area. For more information, visit theedibleclassroom.org.