Year Founded: 1998
Business Type: Retail
Location: Lexington, VA
Number of Employees: 15
"We believe if you have enough desire and pig-headed determination, then you can achieve your goals."
– Jim Fonner, Co-founder and Administrative Manager
When Jim and Brenda Fonner started the company that would eventually grow into ParknPool, they had one cell phone between them and conducted business out of their Florida home.
At first, persistence alone carried the retail-based operation. Long road trips and networking at hotels and restaurants were key to establishing contracts for the sale of picnic tables, benches, pool furniture and other products.
"We would go to these luncheons wearing these brightly colored flowered shirts," Jim recalled of travels with his then business partner.
Yet by 2003, the Fonners calculated roughly 60 percent of their $1 million in revenues came from the web. They parted ways with their third partner and, because the business was mobile, headed for Lexington, Virginia. They chose Lexington to be closer to family, and because they were impressed with the growing reputation of the city.
Soon after the move, their profits leveled off.
"By 2007, I was pretty concerned with the direction we were going," Jim said. "If you're not growing, then there's a good chance you're dying."
The Fonners redoubled their efforts. Neither had a business degree. Instead they invested in self-education: they began reading, hired business coaches, and attended conferences.
The work paid off. They quadrupled their business and held a grand opening in April 2011 for a new office space in Lexington.
Unlike other Resilience Award winners who reside in communities where the challenges are factory closings and boarded up properties along Main Street, the Fonner's home base of Lexington has many economic bright spots.
However, even in communities known for their prosperity, like Lexington, there are often substantial challenges of unemployment and poverty.
ParknPool has committed to hiring locals, and they acknowledge that the Resilience Award has helped.
"I think the Resilience Award gave our business a bit more solidarity and made us more of a stanchion in the community and through that, just like putting an ad in the paper, we can attract more qualified people," Jim said.
Perhaps even more, the Award has given them confidence and affirmed that they are on the right track.
"We were just so completely impressed with the award ceremony there at the Rotunda. That was probably the nicest thing that's ever happened to us in our business," Jim said. "It's not like I was ever working to achieve the Resilience Award. We were just working to do the best we could do."