Amie Teague Boone was still in elementary school when she started making plans to start her own business. Recently the Piedmont Regional Feeding & Oral-Motor Clinic Boone established was named the 2016 SBDC Southern Region Small Business of the Year.
“At the age of 10, I started writing to universities asking how to become a speech pathologist,” she says. “After I went to 4-H Camp that summer and learned sign language, I decided I wanted to be a deaf interpreter. Gallaudet University sent a brochure that said deaf interpreters work closely with speech pathologists. That’s what I decided to be.”
After earning her Master of Arts in Communication Sciences & Disorders from UNC Greensboro, the Danville native worked for five years as a clinician. “I felt I needed that real world experience before starting a business,” she says.
In 2006 Boone decided to step out on her own in a specialized field. “It was just me when I started the business,” she says of the Piedmont Regional Feeding Clinic. “There are only a handful of feeding clinics in the nation not attached to a hospital or university. We work with different things—it might be a baby having trouble with swallowing, patients with autism who can’t stand textures in the mouth, or someone who’s had a stroke and can’t swallow.”
To get the right start for her business, Boone contacted Longwood SBDC consultant Diane Arnold. “When I took her class on how to write a business plan, I was seven months pregnant and started having contractions in class,” Boone recalls. “Everyone asked if I wanted to leave, but I stayed. I wanted to write that plan!”
Boone credits SBDC with helping her business weather the recession in 2008. “During that time, funding cut off just like that,” she says. “I was able to persevere because SBDC gave me the resources and knowledge to keep going—and I will always be grateful.”
Another setback occurred three years ago when Boone’s husband of 14 years developed leukemia and passed away. “My team of employees kept the business going,” she says. “At that time I also realized our business was no longer following our original plan, so we started a vision implementation to get back on track.” A chart with the company’s vision is now displayed on the conference room wall. “Everyone can see why we’re making the decisions we make and what’s next. That keeps all our employees invested,” Boone says.
“PRFC started in 2006 with just one employee—me. Now we have 26 full-time and three part-time employees. I’m very proud that PRFC was named the 2016 SBDC Danville Region Small Business of the Year.”
Several years ago PRFC moved to a new location that allowed the business to expand. “We recruit from all over the country,” Boone says. “We bring master’s and doctoral level people to this area.” PRFC currently employs 26 full-time and three part-time employees.
“SBDC has been a big component in helping me get the resources and knowledge I need,” Boone concludes. I might not be here today without them!”