Employing two out of every three people, small businesses are key to our nation’s economy and equally vital to local communities. But there’s more to small businesses’ contributions than significant statistics. Each has a story, and in honor of National Small Business Week (May 3-9), we asked a few Montgomery businesses to share theirs.
CAKE DESIGNS: Recipe For Success
For more than three decades, Cake Designs has been an integral part of special celebrations in Montgomery. Opened in April 1985 by Sandra and Sam McGhar, the beloved family owned and operated shop is best known for its wedding cakes, birthday cakes and cupcakes. “We keep things old-fashioned and simple, focusing on our flavors and delivering quality products,” said Sandra.
The emphasis on impeccable customer service is what Sandra considers the most important ingredient in their success through the years. Admittedly, Sandra says, they’ve been slow to make changes when it comes to technology and social media, but their emphasis on treating customers like family has kept them busier than ever. “We love our customers. When I see them around town or in restaurants, they come up to me and hug me,” she said. “Many of them have their favorite flavors, and they tell us, never change this recipe!”
Another thing the McGhars never changed in their 35 years in business is their location. Cake Designs is at 3651 Debby Drive, just off McGehee Road near the Eastern Boulevard. What once was a main thoroughfare in Montgomery anchored by popular shopping destinations has experienced a downturn in recent years. “When I first started,” said Sandra, “I sat in every parking lot around town and surveyed traffic to decide where I wanted to put the cake shop. At the time, the Montgomery Mall was booming, and this location was just a no-brainer.”
Despite the changing landscape of business in the area, Sandra says the decision to stay put has been a successful one, thanks to a loyal customer base that keeps coming back. “Our customers and friends tell us this location is iconic – that they come here for our products and our service, not because of our address. So, we plan to keep doing what we’re doing,” she said.
STORE ROOM FASTENERS: Choosing Local First
From humble beginnings in a one-room storage shed in Montgomery in 1984, Store Room Fasteners (SRF) has experienced tremendous growth during its 35 years in business. The Montgomery location, now boasting tens of thousands of square feet in warehouse and office space, serves as company headquarters. SRF also operates four additional branch locations in Selma; Opelika; Lagrange, Georgia; and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
SRF is a distributor of hydraulic and industrial products including fasteners, fittings, industrial hoses, adhesives and a variety of specialty components. In addition to the distribution of industrial products, SRF provides inventory management services, including product assembly and product packaging. “I believe our growth has come from putting the customers’ needs as the No. 1 priority. Our goal is to be our customer’s first choice with the confidence that SRF will have the part needed in stock at a good price. Our employees strive for nothing less than complete customer satisfaction,” said Tim Wilsford, SRF’s Owner and Founder.
He also credits those dedicated employees to his growth over the years. “I’ve considered it an important part of my job to create a positive work environment for employees to be happy and successful. Our employees are wonderful and truly take pride in their work,” he said.
SRF’s customer base is a cross-section of U.S.-based companies ranging from multi-national manufacturers to local machine shops. “Our strength is our extensive product knowledge and detailed inventory management for our customers. We feel it is our responsibility to build true long-term relationships with both our customers and our vendors,” said Wilsford. Because of those strong partnerships around the globe, SRF can leverage its buying power, gaining the lowest possible prices for shoppers.
A local business owner himself, Wilsford prioritizes shopping local first whenever possible for products and services needed for his company. In addition, SRF has been the title sponsor for Lagoon Park’s City Invitational Golf Tournament for the past three years. “We pride ourselves in supporting and providing financial contributions to many local charities,” said Wilsford. “This is our home, and while we give back frequently, we always feel like there is more we can do.”
THE HEARTBEAT OF OUR COMMUNITY
SMALL BIZ MATTERS
Montgomery is home to a vibrant small business community. From family-owned shops and restaurants to homegrown tech and production companies, these businesses make up an important sector of our local economy. According to Cedric Varner, Director of Small Minority Business and Community Outreach for the Chamber, they provide jobs, contribute to the local tax base and drive innovation. “Montgomery’s small businesses are the heartbeat of our community,” he said. “Not only do small businesses add a unique flavor to our city, their owners are usually the first in line to support local nonprofit organizations, causes and other small businesses.”