Mitzi Bender decided a rain barrel was the perfect solution to her flooding basement. Unfortunately, an attractive rain barrel that met her neighborhoods’ stringent requirements was nowhere to be found. Rather than accept a lifetime of soggy basement carpets, Bender partnered with her friend Karen Bell and together designed their own attractive “raintainer” for the capture of rooftop runoff.
As their invention took shape, Bender and Bell formed a company, Four Water LLC. In search of startup guidance, Bender and Bell turned to Carol Cornell, director of the SBDC at Northern Kentucky University, for financial instruction, price modeling and general startup support. In March 2008, Four Water LLC incorporated and in June they filed a registered trademark and patent.
A friend put us in touch with Carol at the NKU SBDC. We found the services so valuable that we were meeting with Carol on a near weekly basis. The SBDC assistance we have received was absolutely critical to our growth.
– Mitzi Bender, co-owner
Four Water LLC sold their first 500 rain barrels to the city of Lexington, which promptly sold out in just 24 hours. In 2009, the city of Lexington continued to support Four Water LLC and designed a special rain barrel mascot, Lily, to join the city’s other household waste, lawn waste and recycling mascots.
Bender and Bell have put particular emphasis on making sure Four Water LLC creates green jobs in Kentucky while producing a sustainable product. Today, their rain barrels are produced at a plant and fulfillment center in Mt. Sterline, Kentucky.
The company is currently providing 14 cities with rain barrels and has plans to continue growing the “raintainer” line as well as expanding into other product offerings.
LEXINGTON, Ky., (Feb. 14, 2017) – Kentucky Small Business Development Center is seeking nominations for the 2017 Pacesetter Awards. The recognition program was created to honor high performing, second-stage businesses that are changing Kentucky’s economic landscape. The deadline to submit nominations is March 15.
KSBDC encourages small businesses that meet the following minimum qualifications to apply:
· Privately held
· In business for three or more years
· Employ six or more full-time employees, including the owner
· Annual sales meet or exceed $500,000
· Located and headquartered in Kentucky
·Demonstrate the intent and capacity to grow evidenced by the judging criteria.
Pacesetters will be selected based on two or more of the following criteria:
· Growth in the number of employees
·Increase in sales and/or unit volume
· Innovativeness of the product or service
·Response to adversity
·Employee engagement and commitment
·Contributions by the nominee to aid community-oriented projects
Pacesetters will be recognized at the Kentucky Celebrates Small Business event held at the Capitol rotunda in Frankfort during the first week of May. Each honoree will receive an award inscribed with the business’s name and a promotional video for their own use that highlights the business. In addition, KSBDC will send a customized press release announcing the award to local media and trade associations. Honorees are given the rights to use the Kentucky Pacesetter logo and event photographs in promoting their business.
Anyone may submit nominations, including third parties associated with an eligible second-stage business. A business may self-nominate by completing the required form. Winners will be notified by March 27. Full nomination requirements and the application are online at https://www.ksbdc.org/kentucky-pacesetters1 .
The Kentucky Small Business Development Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is a network of 12 offices located throughout the state. The center helps existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration. More information on KSBDC services can be found on their website, http://www.ksbdc.org/ .
Writer: Roberta Meisel, 859-257-0104
UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.