America at work
Scaling up: Checking in with Last Year’s DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year
Eric Nelson | June 10, 2016

Up, up and away.

Triangle Rock Club is still scaling new heights since being named the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year.

Recently, American Express selected Triangle Rock Club as one of three companies in the world to feature as part of an online marketing campaign that highlights the AMEX connection with the small business community. The spots are scheduled to start rolling in June.

And the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau chose Triangle Rock Club to be one of its “brand” ambassadors. The campaign spotlights six local business leaders – including Joel Graybeal, Triangle Rock Club managing partner – who exemplify the Raleigh brand. The business is currently featured on the “Visit Raleigh” home page and on the cover of the Greater Raleigh Annual Visitors Guide.

It has been a busy year for Triangle Rock Club, and now another America’s Small Business Summit is set to kick off June 13 with seven small businesses vying for the 2016 DREAM BIG top honors – and the accolades that come with it. We had a chance to ask Graybeal about last year’s win and the road ahead for Triangle Rock Club.

What do you remember most about your experience at America’s Small Business Summit?

“The most memorable aspect of attending last’s years summit was hearing the words ‘Triangle Rock Club’ when they announced us as the DREAM BIG winner. It was bit surreal as we had hopes of winning but knew there were six other outstanding competitors. It all happened so fast – we didn’t really have much time to ‘process’ what happened. Winning the award was a huge testament to the loyalty of our customers and to the outstanding job our employees do every day serving our guests.”

Were you surprised by the reaction after receiving the DREAM BIG top honors?

“We were absolutely surprised as the local newspaper and area business journal wrote up nice pieces about our business. The newspaper’s primary story line was about how we supported local schools and charities. The shelf life of the win also has been rather long. The Greater Raleigh Visitors and Convention Bureau chose us to put on their cover of the Raleigh Official Visitors Guide. Winning the U.S. Chamber award helped us to draw the attention of the local business community.”

How has the business expanded in the past year?

“We have shifted into another revenue gear since last June. All three facilities are running well with continued growth and profitability across the entire enterprise. We just recently opened an 8,400-square-foot fitness facility to our North Raleigh location. We’ve added group fitness classes as well as increased our operating hours. Our community has embraced the changes as we have more time and more ways to enhance and transform the lives of our customers by enthusiastically sharing our passion for climbing and fitness.”

What are your plans for the future?

“We’re looking at adding three more TRC locations. We’re making weekly progress on location #4 and also making headway on locations #5 and #6. We have rather unique real estate needs (tall buildings with lots of parking near high densities of population). It takes a while for us to pull together the right combinations of our needs but you won’t find those opportunities unless you are ‘turning over rocks’ all the time. We’re really excited about our future as we’ve never been in a better position with our company to expand.”

Do you have any advice for people who want to take a chance and start their own business?

“I think most small business owners underestimate the size of their opportunity. While I thought I was aggressive with our growth plan, I have learned that our opportunities are way bigger than we could have imagined. So my advice to small business owners is to ‘think big’ and then develop an aggressive plan to go capture that opportunity. There’s no substitute for hard work and for taking steps daily to move your business forward. When you aggregate daily small steps over time, you end up covering a lot of ground over time.”

Here’s a look at the seven regional finalists vying for this year’s DREAM BIG top spot (the winner will be announced at next week’s America’s Small Business Summit):

MODE: DREAM BIG 2016: This Retail Vision Led to Building a Brand

Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea: DREAM BIG 2016: This Business Has Something Special Brewing

SearchPros Solutions: DREAM BIG 2016: Helping Others Led to a Good Business Decision

SOLDIERFIT: DREAM BIG 2016: Military-Based Fitness Franchise Inspires Members to Shape Up

Scratch and Peck Feeds: DREAM BIG 2016: By Feeding a Need, Business Found the Recipe

LEAN Frog Business Solutions, Inc.: DREAM BIG 2016: Education Means Business for This Couple

Creating and Managing Wealth LLC: DREAM BIG 2016: This Business Has a Plan to Find Solutions