LIMA — Finalists for the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce’s Emerging Business of the Year award include a popular mobile barbecue business, a decorative concrete supplier that’s still growing despite COVID-19, and a mixed martial arts gym that opened a new training facility at the Lima Mall in 2019.
Here are the finalists:
The decorative concrete and equipment supplier just had its best month on record and purchased a new 20,000-square-foot warehouse, defying expectations in the middle of a pandemic that has pushed many small businesses to the brink.
Owner Corey Henson, who founded EZ-Concrete Supply in 2017, credited the company’s continued growth to the shutdowns, as many companies used the down time to remodel their facilities.
While based in Lima, EZ-Concrete Supply does business across the U.S. and world.
“I’m always hustling,” he said.
This is the second time Henson and his wife, Amanda, were nominated for the award.
Fat Kid BBQ
Daniel and Ashley Carnes took a leap of faith when they purchased the food truck now known as Fat Kid BBQ in 2017. The couple have since committed to the business fulltime, hiring more than a dozen employees and even purchasing a second truck. Carnes saw sales rise 670% in 2019 as a result.
But he won’t be investing in brick and mortar anytime soon, Fat Kid BBQ can serve 400-600 people per day just by setting up shop in the parking lots of major businesses, Carnes said. That keeps overhead and insurance costs low. And Carnes doesn’t think the restaurant model makes sense for him right now.
“From the time we pull our food off the smoker,” he said, “if it’s not used, it has to be tossed.”
While 2019 was Fat Kid BBQ’s best year, 2020 has been tough. People canceled weddings and graduation parties, two popular events for the barbecue business. And with many factories shut down this spring, Carnes had to get creative to find customers.
“We decided, let’s set up wherever we can set up,” he said. Carnes is now looking forward to bringing most of his staff back as demand picks up for the summer.
Lima’s Total Revolution Training Facility
Jessy Austin founded the mixed martial arts gym in 2017, turning his passion for MMA into a successful small gym. The gym, located behind Mega Replay on Cable Road, has since expanded with a second location in the Lima Mall. Likewise, course offerings have grown from traditional martial arts to include Brazilian jiu-jitsu, self defense and free-flow striking. There are even classes for kids.
TRT was growing before the state’s stay-at-home order forced gyms to temporarily close. Austin said his members are slowly coming back.
The class sizes are smaller. Equipment is cleaned between every class. And only one parent can attend the kids’ classes until restrictions are lifted. But Austin is taking a positive approach to the situation, even though he did not qualify for a small business relief loan.
“We were so lucky to have both still going,” he said.