B&B Pet Stop was recently named 2016 Small Business of the Year by the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.

According to a news release, Spring Hill College initially lured Bill Trufant, a Louisiana native, to Mobile. Trufant, who when he was first old enough to work was paid in fish, opened his first store in 1981. Within a year, he moved B&B Pet Stop to Mobile to be closer to his customers. He later recruited his sisters to join the company.

Innovative marketing strategies, new inventory and physical improvements not only held big-box competitors and online stores at bay, but kept the Mobile-based business growing. Currently B&B Pet Stop has 44 employees and celebrates its 35th anniversary this year.

“We know the everyday challenges small businesses face and overcome,” Darrell Randle, the chamber’s vice president of small business development, said. “It’s an honor to celebrate their accomplishments and contributions to our local economy.”

The chamber defines a small business as one with 100 or fewer employees. The Small Business of the Year applications were judged by a panel of individuals with diverse expertise, including management, finance and business development. Other 2016 finalists included FusionPoint Media and Karen C Simmons, PC.

The Mobile Chamber also presented its Outstanding Entrepreneur Award to Grace Pilot, co-founder, chair, secretary and treasurer of Pilot Catastrophe.

In 1983, Grace and her husband Walter started the company in their Mobile kitchen. Today it is one of the largest independent insurance adjusting firms in the country.

“Grace is a longtime leader and philanthropist. The selection committee talked at length about the value and contributions made through Pilot Catastrophe that have impacted hundreds of thousands of disaster victims throughout the nation as well as many right here in our community,” said Bill Sisson, chamber president and CEO.

The award was created in 2014 to recognize and celebrate an individual who represents the characteristics of successful entrepreneurship.

Commercial real estate moves
• A new 1,500-square-foot cryotherapy center, appropriately named Mobile Cryotherapy, is slated to open in late June at 6345 Airport Blvd. inside the Piccadilly Square shopping center in West Mobile and adjacent to a Barre 3 Fitness Center, according to co-owner Sam Bloodworth.

Locally originated and owned, total investment in the new business is estimated to be upwards of $120,000, according to Bloodworth. One nitrogen vapor therapy chamber will be available onsite for 15-minute sessions costing $39 per treatment.

The new business will employ five workers upon launch and plans a Summer Olympics-themed grand opening in August accompanied by a ribbon cutting. A relatively new technology not yet cleared for medical purposes by the FDA, nitrogen vapor-based cryotherapy treatments are used extensively in athletic training, pain relief/rehabilitation and beauty/cosmetic treatments. Cryotherapy treatments are not covered by health insurance.

• A local investor purchased a 10,000-square-foot strip center on Highway 59 in Summerdale, anchored by Dollar General, for $650,000. Jay O’Brien of J.L. O’Brien & Associates represented the buyer and Ralph Neal of Inge Real Estate worked for the seller.

• According to John Delchamps with the Merrill P. Thomas Co., $238,000 was paid to acquire two acres near Lakeside Drive by Southern Building Structures to be used for company expansion. Robert Cook of Vallas Realty represented the sellers.

• Sharon Wright with White-Spunner Realty recently facilitated the sale of 5860 College Parkway for $1,175,000. College Park Baptist Church sold its 29,000-square-foot building and 14 acres to the University of Mobile. The church is building a new facility on Celeste Road but plans to lease the current space from the University of Mobile until its new site is built. UM intends to eventually use the building and property for expansion purposes; its campus is directly across the street, according to Wright.

• Per Matt White with White-Spunner Realty, Mellow Mushroom recently bought a lot on Schillinger Road for $572,000 in West Mobile, due north of Cottage Hill Road. Plans are in place to build a new restaurant on the property this year. Ralph Neal of Inge and Associates worked for the seller.

• The 1,200-square-foot Caffey’s Pharmacy, located at 3707B St. Stephens Road in Whistler, was recently purchased for an undisclosed amount and is now under new ownership by veteran pharmacist Ken Smith.

Reported by Lagniappe at the time of the incident, former owner Donald Scarcliff was arrested in 2014 for allegedly illegally supplying drugs to street-level dealers.

Listen to the full story on how Smith is currently attempting to rehabilitate Caffey’s image and reengage with the surrounding community on this week’s Real Deal podcast on www.lagniappemobile.com.

Pillans students complete after-school study initiative
According to a news release, Fuse Project recently hosted an award ceremony to celebrate the 26 students who successfully completed the after-school initiative at Pillans Middle School during the 2015-2016 school year.

This is the second year a Mobile County public middle school has had the opportunity, thanks to funding by Fuse Project, to facilitate an alternative night school program. This initiative was designed by the nonprofit to help local middle school students experiencing difficulty adjusting to the structure of a normal school day. 

The goal of the program is to reduce the number of discipline infractions and out-of-school suspensions by providing an alternative pathway for success. Upon entering the program, most students were failing at least one of their classes. During the course of the school year, most students showed improvement in their grades. This initiative has been directly funded by Fuse Project from the proceeds raised through Dragon Boat Festivals.

“We are thrilled at the success of the after-school initiative and are excited to announce that we are finalizing our plans to fund this program at a Baldwin County Middle School for the 2016-2017 school year with the funds raised by this year’s Dragon Boat Festival,” Adrienne Golden, Fuse Project executive director, said.