Chamber of Commerce honors Terry Stephens with Summit awards
By Ronda Wertman
KEYSER - Keyser’s Terry Stephens earned top honors with the Mineral County Chamber of Commerce’s Entrepreneurial Spirit Award and Small Business of the Year for Queen’s Point Coffee.
“Terry Stephens is kind of the Elon Musk of Keyser. Maybe not in the technology field, but certainly as an entrepreneur,” said Chamber president Randy Crane. “I’ve lost track of how many businesses Terry has started.
“His latest venture is actually three businesses – all of which will not only serve local residents, but visitors to our county as well,” said Crane.
“Once this pandemic has passed, all three businesses will be a huge draw to the county,” he said of North Branch Ventures with a great coffee shop, Queen’s Point Coffee; North Branch Pub, the first brew pub in Mineral County; and Thunder Hill Outfitters with kayak and tube rentals for the North Branch of the Potomac River.
“That’s exciting, we need stuff like that,” added Crane. “Anyone who knows Terry knows that he is constantly thinking of ways to improve our community, create new business opportunities, and make Keyser shine.”
As the Small Business of the Year Crane described the essence of Queen’s Point Coffee, saying, “When you walk through their door, you are greeted with a warm smile and a friendly hello. The atmosphere is casual, family-friendly, and business friendly. Brian Wilson and his staff treat all customers like a part of their family.”
Crane noted that this support carries over to the community. “Their generosity overflows in the form of donations and support for local organizations and events. Queen's Point Coffee is a business that Mineral County needed and it is one that we will love and appreciate for years to come,” he concluded.
While Stephens didn’t comment when stepping up to receive the entrepreneurial award, he did when he returned to the stage for his small business recognition, saying that he had the idea for North Branch Ventures for three years before the pieces came together to make it a reality.
He offered free small business consulting to those wishing to draw on his 40 years of growing businesses.
“If you are like me, you are in awe of people who have an idea or a dream and work very hard to make that dream a reality. Entrepreneurs are always hard workers and do whatever it takes to make things happen,” said Crane as he recognized “three great entrepreneurs Sarah Carman, Nathaniel Miller and Stephens.
Carman was also nominated for both the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award and for Small Business of the Year for Good Carma Catering.
“Sarah Carman has taken a love for making great food into a great business with a very loyal following,” said Crane, noting that “Good Carma Catering provides delicious food for events of all types even traveling to Charleston to provide amazing food for Mineral County Days.”
“I am so pleased and proud to say that Nathaniel Miller has also been nominated. Nathaniel is a young entrepreneur who lives in Carpendale and is running a very successful lawn care and snow removal business,” said Crane.
He described the eighth grader as a hard worker with a good head on his shoulders.
“He really impressed me right off the bat,” Crane added. “This young man represents the best qualities of a young, hard-working, business owner, and is a model entrepreneur.”
“It is truly fitting that the last award of evening has three of the hardest working and creative business people in the area. Small business is tough, but good small businesses are rewarded by their customers especially when times are tough,” said Crane, recognizing Small Business of the Year nominees Good Carma Catering, Queen’s Point Coffee and The Candlewyck Inn.
“All three nominees have given their all this year amidst the pandemic, coming up with creative ways to keep people coming to them. It was gratifying this year to see the strength and resilience of our small businesses all over the county,” said Crane.
He gave an example saying, “Fred Engle has run the Candlewyck Inn for years, but during the pandemic, Fred figured out how to reach customers in new ways, using Facebook like he never had before, and sustained his business, reaching many guests he never had before. The Candlewyck is one of the best restaurants in our area.
“We are not out of the woods yet, but I am very optimistic having witnessed what our businesses have accomplished this year,” Crane concluded.