Due to tough economic times, many manufacturers have been forced to close their doors or cut staff and other expenses. However, there are manufacturers who have managed to not only hang on during this time, but thrive. One such company is Carolina Growler, owned by Terry Crews and Bill Crisp.
Located in Montgomery County’s town of Star, Carolina Growler is a HubZone-certified, veteran-owned manufacturer of light truck and utility vehicles, special mission and DOT-certified trailers, transportation equipment, and special aircraft support equipment. In addition, they offer product engineering, design, and automotive repair and maintenance services. Much of this production requires skilled workers to complete on-site metal working and fabrication, surface preparation, and paint and body work. Since 2007, the business has employed over 150 full-time locals.
In July 2011, Carolina Growler submitted their first proposal as a HubZone prime contractor and won an award of close to $50 million to manufacture transportation equipment for the US military. This contract will give Carolina Growler the golden opportunity to create up to 30 new jobs in Montgomery County over the next two years; continue completing 75% of work locally; and, most importantly, add capabilities to the current manufacturing facility. The process of seeking their first prime contract taught Carolina Growler a great deal about themselves, government contracting and the many resources available to assist their business.
In 2010 at a contracting event, John Crews, vice president for operations and son of Terry Crews, met an SBTDC PTAC counselor who helps small business owners prepare for government contracting opportunities. The counselor was able to answer tough questions John had during the event, which started Carolina Growler’s relationship with the SBTDC. With much of their business coming from government contracting opportunities, the use of the SBTDC’s expertise in government procurement, manufacturing and general business proved to be invaluable.
Today, when John and contracts manager Marcia Brewer need expert business advice, they know they can call Fallon Brewington, a Fayetteville State University SBTDC business counselor whose position is supported by the NC Rural Economic Development Center’s Economic Innovation Grant program. The grant aims to spur business activity, job creation, and public/private investment in North Carolina’s rural communities. The funding made it possible for SBTDC to hire Targeted Business Services counselors like Fallon to reach out and assist small to mid-size businesses to succeed in eight of North Carolina’s Tier 1 (most economically distressed) counties – Anson, Cleveland, Greene, Lenoir, Montgomery, Richmond, Rutherford and Wayne.
With Fallon’s guidance, Carolina Growler has been able to complete tasks more quickly by getting the resources, contacts and information sooner than they may have on their own.
“The SBTDC has helped by pointing us in the right direction,” says John. “The SBTDC team has helped with even the little things, which often can be just as important.”
Carolina Growler’s management team plans to continue working with the SBTDC to make their business even better. They want to pursue more government contracts, continue to work with university student interns to complete projects such as standard operating procedures and training manuals, and examine prospects for exporting with assistance from the SBTDC’s International Business Development team.