The Triangle Rock Club is the best small business in the country, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced Tuesday afternoon.
The Morrisville-based rock climbing gym, which started in 2007 and has since expanded to North Raleigh and Fayetteville, won the chamber’s 2015 Dream Big Small Business of the Year award. The award celebrates small businesses and their contributions to the economy.
“We are honored, humbled and actually a tad surprised to have won this award,” said Joel Graybeal, one of the club’s two managing partners, in an emailed statement.
Neither Graybeal nor the club’s other co-founder, Andrew Katz, were available for comment Tuesday, staff at the Morrisville gym said. The men, who are both former Marines, were in Washington accepting the award during the America’s Small Business Summit hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Triangle Rock Club was chosen from 100 Blue Ribbon Award Winners and then a group of seven regional finalists. The rock club, representing the southeastern region, received a variety of prizes, including $10,000.
The Chamber of Commerce noted Triangle Rock Club’s ability to stay afloat but also to expand at a time when more businesses are closing down than are opening. The club, for example, expanded its climbing terrain from 9,000 square feet to 47,000 square feet in just over a year, according to a news release.
The chamber also praised the gym’s presence in the community. It has hosted numerous charity and youth group events and, so far, three marriage proposals.
Greybeal said their success comes from two sources: their professional team and a “loyal, supportive and awesome customer base.”
The ability to inspire fans and provide a world-class training environment, Graybeal said, is what has allowed the gym to thrive.
In addition to its three current locations, the club has plans to expand to Charlotte, Greensboro and either Durham or Chapel Hill, according to the release.
This award is the second accolade in the the past year. In October, 15-year-old member Kai Lightner won the world championship of youth sport climbing, the first American to win the award in 20 years.
He said his mother drove him from Fayetteville to Morrisville every day to train because the Morrisville location has the tallest climbing wall in the Southeast, at 55 feet tall.
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran