Economic engine: In the trenches with small-business owners

At the height of the real-estate boom, business was indeed booming for Brian Mininger.

“Our biggest issue wasn’t getting business, it was how in the world can we keep up with it and service it,” said Mininger, whose Fishersville-based home-remodeling business, Home Innovations, was doing hundreds of thousands of dollars of remodeling work annually before the bottom fell out of the market.

The business went under in short order, and Mininger is picking up the pieces with the launch of a new business, Blackberry Creek, that works with small-business clients on marketing and PR strategies using cost-effective social-media networking as the foundation.

“It really wasn’t until the last year or two at Home Innovations when I started getting a handle on how to use the web. I had a website, I had a customer-request form on it, fairly typical. But when the social-media stuff started coming along, I got excited, because here’s what we needed to build on relationships. Suddenly I felt like we had the tools to really effectively market local businesses on the web,” said Mininger, who admits that key to his decision to launch a new business in the wake of what happened at Home Innovations is the difficulty in finding a job in the still-cool labor market.

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