Little River Trails Aquaculture | Bunnlevel, NC
Prior to 2011, Larry Lanier had a successful agriculture business with a product base of various crops, livestock, and in the past, poultry. Larry as well as many other farmers in the area lost their poultry contracts and suffered a significant loss of business as a result. After some strategizing he formed Little River Trails Aquaculture with business partner and day-to-day manager Robin Sanderson in April 2011. He used his empty poultry houses as the home for this new venture in aquaculture — raising flounder and hybrid striped bass.
Fayetteville State University’s SBTDC Regional Director Johnnie Marshburn and now PTAC Counselor Terry Stroud learned about Little River Trails Aquaculture after reading a news article about their fascinating new business, which at the time was only one of two such ventures in the U.S.
Terry visited and spoke with Larry about the services the SBTDC offers to clients. Larry was extremely receptive to the services offered by the SBTDC and expressed his immediate need for assistance with financing, cash flow, business planning, scheduling, and operations.
Little River Trails Aquaculture became a participant in the SBTDC’s Biz Boost program, which helps businesses with 10 or more employees retain jobs and accelerate their prospects for future growth by focusing additional SBTDC resources and leveraging partnerships to assist vulnerable firms. As their initial business counselor, Terry utilized several of the SBTDC’s resources to help get Larry’s business on track. The Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) reviewed and assisted with all of the client’s registrations to local, state, and federal government contracting opportunities databases. Terry and the Technology Commercialization team helped Larry with the submission of a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) solicitation.
They also received significant assistance from SBTDC-provided student teams from Fayetteville State University, Campbell University, UNC Wilmington, and North Carolina State University. These students developed a disaster plan and an emergency action plan for Little River Trails Aquaculture, as their business is weather and climate-sensitive.
Little River Trails Aquaculture did not receive the SBIR grant, but made it to the final round of consideration. Terry assisted with revisions in focus and substance, and the SBIR was resubmitted for 2013 consideration.
When Terry became a PTAC counselor, Johnnie stepped up as Little River Trails Aquaculture’s general business counselor. He worked closely with them until they had secured financing and became a self-sustaining operation with fish going to market on a routine basis. He also helped with cash flow analysis, advice on private equity partnership, and financial analysis.
The business has successfully harvested their first installment of their production cycle in the fourth quarter resulting in a $140,000 sales increase for 2012. At a minimum, sales will quadruple in 2013, as the fish are due to mature in regular intervals throughout the year.
Story originally featured in the SBTDC’s 2012-2013 Annual Report.
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