Monte Evans II, co-owner of Competitive Edge Athletic Performance Center, has won a $25,000 grand prize in the 2017 American Small Business Championship.
The win is a big deal because Evans was among just three grand prize winners, selected from 1,556 small business owners who entered the championship.
The Woodbridge, Virginia-based business is a black-owned multi-sports facility totaling over 18,000 square feet. It trains youth and develops them into the “complete athlete,” helping them become top performers in athletics and academics.
The business offers multiple sports and performance training disciplines coupled with educational programs like SAT/ACT prep courses and tutoring. It provides counseling and clinics to help parents learn about good nutrition habits for kids.
Competitive Edge is rare in that it offers athletic training for kids often not available at mainstream fitness gyms for adults.
Validation that Business Strategy is Working
“It’s validation that centers like ours are needed for youth,” Evans says of his prize.
The ASBC is hosted by SCORE and supported by Sam’s Club. It honors small business success and helps those firms gain the resources to keep growing. This past March, 102 finalists from 49 states and the District of Columbia got a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card, free SCORE mentoring and an all-expenses-paid trip to a training and networking event in Dallas.
A panel of judges in mid-September chose Competitive Edge, Grillo Essentials in Saratoga Springs, New York, and One Community in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as grand champions. It was the first time in ASBC’s four-year history that three small business owners each won $25,000 to grow their enterprises.
“Monte Evans exemplifies the dedication, hard work, passion, drive and sense of community found in small business owners across this great nation,” said Resa Kierstein, vice president of development for SCORE. “We are beyond delighted to help Monte and the entire team at Competitive Edge to reach new heights in their business growth trajectory.”
Further Evidence Small Businesses Help Drive Nation’s Economy
Nearly 28 million small businesses make up 54% of all sales and 55% of all jobs in the United States. Programs like the ASBC are vital for small businesses; many of them need mentorship, strategic assistance, and ongoing support to maintain growth. Next year’s ASBC competition will be open in mid-January to entrepreneurs.
Evans, also director of sports management at Competitive Edge, says the center plans on using the $25,000 prize to fund its health and fitness program with Prince William County Schools in Virginia to assist with physical education for elementary, middle, and high school students.
The center also will use the money to develop partnerships with its community programs that fight childhood obesity as well as buy and upgrade fitness equipment. The center is also expanding its internal program, including offering volleyball, tennis, and boxing for youth and expanding its adult fitness program.
“A lot of parents don’t know that these programs exist, so going out to the community is important for us.”
A Place for Young Athletes to Train During Winter
Evans, a former Michigan State University basketball player, actually co-founded the Dale City Lightning Track Club in Woodbridge in 2010, a year-round program now with 300 youth athletes. But the athletes there, including Evans’ three young daughters, did not have a facility to train during the winter. That prompted Evans and co-owner Maurice Briddell to open Competitive Edge in February 2016. “I knew that my daughters couldn’t be the only kids who needed an off-season training facility in Woodbridge.”
He was right. Competitive Edge now provides development and sports performance training for male and female youth athletes from ages 4 to 18. It has more than 300 members, including youth, college students, and semi-pro athletes.
Boosting Brand Recognition Among Center’s Biggest Challenges
The business has steadily grown. Evans projects 2017 revenues of $285,000, up from $225,000 in 2016. His future growth strategy includes increasing Competitive Edge’s brand recognition to attract more members. That plan includes boosting the center’s media exposure and marketing efforts, including beefing up its interaction on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other sites.
He says youth sports have grown tremendously and keep growing. Yet, it also has become political. He says Competitive Edge aims to improve athletes so they will perform better when they are competing with their team.
“So, it takes time in building relationships with coaches and it takes time to earn the trust of the parents and athletes themselves,” he adds.