Chuck Hammond of Raining Rose Named the SBA's 2013 Iowa Small Business Person of the Year
The U.S. Small Business Administration has named Charles B. "Chuck" Hammond Jr., president and CEO of Raining Rose Inc. in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as its 2013 Iowa Small Business Person of the Year.
In recognition of the small business community's contributions to the American economy and society, the president of the United States designates one week each year as National Small Business Week. Scheduled for the week of June 16 of this year, Small Business Week 2013 will honor the more than 26 million small businesses in America. Since its establishment in 1963, the highlight of this annual tradition is the presentation of awards which focus on the outstanding contributions of small business persons at the district, state and national levels.
Raining Rose originally started as a family hobby in a basement in Cedar Rapids in 1996. But today's Raining Rose, the "the lip balm company and more," started its rise in popularity and production in 2003 when Chuck Hammond and business partner Art Christoffersen purchased the company.
In their first year, Hammond and Christoffersen focused on learning the business—not just about lip balm, but about all natural body care and the industry. This self-education, along with their individual business knowledge and experience, enabled the business to expand and the line of Raining Rose products.
When the two first purchased the company, 12 employees worked out of one room. One of the first things they did was to move to a new facility, starting with 16,600 square feet and 12 employees. Today, Raining Rose operates out of a brand new 125,000 square foot facility and currently has more than 140 employees.
While the business was going smoothly, in May of 2005 Christoffersen was diagnosed with cancer. After a courageous fight, Art Christoffersen passed away in December of 2005 and Hammond was left as the sole owner of Raining Rose. He led the company through a difficult time of transition, while preserving Christoffersen's legacy and vision.
The biggest threat to the company's well-being was still to come, however. On June 13, 2008 Raining Rose's facility was inundated with nearly eight feet of water after over 10 square miles of Cedar Rapids, Iowa was flooded in one of Iowa's worst natural disasters. The Floods of 2008, as they came to be known, were something no business owner could have predicted or planned for.
Hammond knew that to save his business, it was going to take an extraordinary effort on his part and the part of his employees. Prior to even entering the building, he convened his management team and together they made decisions that ultimately kept the business afloat. Although some considered it risky, he placed orders for new equipment and found new temporary office and manufacturing sites. Hammond was also able to get help from the U.S. Small Business Administration's Disaster Loan Program. Raining Rose not only survived, but sales grew 13 percent.
In 2011, Hammond broke ground on Raining Rose's largest expansion to date, financed with an SBA 504 program loan. In the fall of 2012, Raining Rose combined operations from three sites into a new building built with growth in mind. The new space is filling up quickly though as Raining Rose continues to increase sales numbers and staff.
Hammond has a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Duke University and a Juris Doctorate from Washington University in St. Louis. He and his wife Ann live in Cedar Rapids with their three children; Charlie, Katie and Oliver.
As the 2013 Iowa Small Business Person of the Year, Hammond will represent Iowa at National Small Business Week ceremonies in Washington, D.C. June 16-22 where he will compete for the National Award. Chuck was nominated for this award by CFO Judy Lubben, marketing director Katie Beitz and human resources director Ronda Welper, all of Raining Rose Inc.