B y Jaime Thomas
Family and community are everything in Bob Schoonmaker’s business. The co-owner of Schoony’s Country Market, who runs the shop with his wife, Dorie, feels he can thank his family, his workers and his patrons for a recent award.
“We’re all about family; we try to run this like a family business with all our employees,” Schoonmaker said. “The community is what makes it, and that’s what I enjoy.”
His wife agrees.
“I think we have a great team of employees and Bob’s got a great supporting staff — he couldn’t do it without them,” she said.
The store was recently named as one of three winners of the eighth annual Washington County Small Business of the Year awards. Schoonmaker feel s that this was quite an honor.
“I was really shocked. I was honored just to be nominated—there are a lot of small businesses in Washington County,” Schoonmaker said. He credits the success of the store, which has been running for five years, to its remaining consistent and steady, and he stresses the importance of an exceptional staff.
“The employees are very reliable and cooperative; I can depend on them,” Schoonmaker said. Even after the store was damaged in a fire several years ago, 13 of the employees waited for the store to reopen and returned.
“I thought that was pretty cool that they wanted to come back,” he said.
Deanna Derway, office coordinator for Washington County Local Development Corp., said a committee interviews local businesses that have been nominated for the award and then decides the winners together.
The winners “give a lot back to the community and are really upstanding people,” Derway said. Schoonmaker fits that description.
“I think it’s an honor that somebody recognized us as a business that’s surviving and doing well in this economy,” Schoonmaker said.
Schoonmaker said he does whatever he can to help the community and other small businesses, and hopes others would take his lead.
“I wish more people would support their small local businesses,” Schoonmaker said. He believes small businesses are what made America and is glad he can survive in such a corporation-flooded environment.
“The employees are fun to work with, the people in the community are fun — this says a lot about a community with all the corporate business that’s going on,” Schoonmaker said.
Schoonmaker, who said he tries to know every customer who comes in, believes the quality of the store’s meat is a big sell. He would love to eventually expand and hopes to one day have a bakery in the shop.
The other 2012 small business award winners are Fronhofer Tool Co. Inc., of Cossayuna, and Wells Auto Parts in Kingsbury. Nominees to be honored include Battenkill Fibers Carding and Spinning Mill, Carmody Ford Inc., Country Gals Café, Dimensional Mills Inc., Ed Levin Jewelry, Northern Insuring Agency Inc. and Sheldon Slate Company Products Inc.
An awards luncheon will be held on Friday, Dec. 7, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Rainer’s Gourmet Inspirations at B&B on the Green in Kingsbury. Sponsorships are still available, and reservations are required; to reserve a seat or table call 518-746-2290 or visit wcldc.org before Nov. 30 at noon.