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Ten years used to feel like a lifetime, these days it seems like the blink of an eye. (except for April 2020, it felt like a lifetime—but I digress.)

My ten-year ownership of Sport and Specialty has been equal parts fun, aggravation, gratification, and education. With all of this new awareness of the role of small business in the news today, it has really had me thinking about how much goes into making a small business successful. There are few mom-and-pop grocery stores and drug stores left, as most lost the struggle to compete against the chain stores and their corporate marketing, finance, IT and HR support.

In a previous life, I once had those resources available to help my corporate business compete and grow in the marketplace. As a small business owner you need to know how to advertise, budget, use technology and manage people, among other things, to simply keep the doors open. I soon learned that while I had some skills, many others either had to be learned, or sourced to others that are either smarter, or more talented than I am. No shame here.

Fortunately I have been blessed with some amazing and talented friends that have helped Sport and Specialty by providing an extremely professional look and feel that I certainly couldn’t have done alone.

Sport and Specialty - Bill Oakes and Mark Atkinson

Web site manager Bill Oakes and graphic artist Mark Atkinson

Our internet and web presence had been provided by Bill Oakes, a long time racing partner and friend. His expertise and creativity are why our website looks so polished and professional. He and I collaborated in designing the site some years ago, but Bill has been the point-man in keeping it fresh and technically up-to-date. Something many small businesses fail to do once their sites are launched.

My other friend that brings unique talent and professionalism to our party is Mark Atkinson. Mark is another racing friend and my one time driving student who is a graphic artist living in the Minneapolis area. Mark designed the Sport and Specialty logo, as well as manages all of our ad work. He too keeps things fresh, bright and looking polished.

While I’m calling out these two guys, I would be remiss in not mentioning that virtually everyone I know has contributed something to my small business. Heartfelt thanks to my work family and team, my wife and family, the many Facebook supporters, and my industry peers, all too many to name here.

So thanks to all of you for providing the motivation, guidance and emotional support to keep the wheels moving ever forward at Sport and Specialty. Our growth and success as a small business is certainly not all my doing, I got a lot of help from my great friends.


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