Andrew Kratz and Joel Graybeal, owners of climbing facility Triangle Rock Club, have been named the 2014 Small Business Administration’s North Carolina Small Business Persons of the Year.
The annual award was given based on the company’s “staying power,” which includes factors such as employee growth, innovation of services or products, a substantiated history and community project efforts, according to an SBA news release.
“It’s a great recognition for the team of people we’ve aggregated here at Triangle Rock Club,” Graybeal said.
The club now has 53 employees, and started with “only a handful,” Graybeal said.
Triangle Rock Club is involved in an extensive list of community projects that include raising more than $100,000 for the Durham Ronald McDonald House, working with Big Brothers Big Sisters, giving in-kind donations to public and private schools and hosting an August training event for the Special Olympics’ Oct. 4 “Over the Edge” event that includes participants rappelling off the Wells Fargo building in downtown Raleigh, Graybeal said.
The gym, which has locations in North Raleigh and Morrisville, is in the process of expanding by adding 17,000 square feet of climbing space to its 9,000-square-foot Morrisville facility. The renovations are expected to be complete Aug. 1, Graybeal said. The 13,000-square-foot Raleigh gym opened in September. Graybeal also hopes to eventually open another club in the Triangle.
“We are actively pursuing a Chapel Hill or Durham location,” Graybeal said. “My goal is to really start that project this year, and depending on whether it’s ground-up (construction) or a modification (to an existing building) will determine the overall time frame.”
Kratz and Luis Jauregui started Triangle Rock Club in Morrisville in 2007. Graybeal, a former banker who met the business partners while taking classes at the gym, became a managing partner in 2011.
The pair were nominated for the award by SunTrust and VantageSouth banks, but Graybeal says his employees and customers also played a part in the award.
“We’re just really proud of the team of people at TRC,” Graybeal said. “And we have an awesome customer base and a great group of people who are very supportive and loyal to our business.”
Kratz and Graybeal are eligible for the SBA’s National Business Person of the Year award, which will be announced in May.