Beyond the numbers are the wonderful stories of entrepreneurial success, like that of Matt and Nikki Holbert.  The Clendenin Brewing story is familiar to many in the Elk River region. But were you aware that the region’s favorite start-up couple credits the FASTER WV program with some of their early success with business coaching and a $50,000 FASTER WV loan to help purchase brewing equipment?  The Holberts recognized the importance of investing in businesses that benefit their community.  They saw the importance, and opportunity, of Clendenin as a trail town for the developing Elk River Trail.

The two met in high school, then reconnected 20 years later to become partners in both life and business—serial entrepreneurs who bring a can-do attitude to their knack for enterprise.

First was the tanFASTiq tanning salon they started in 2010 and grew to stores in Cross Lanes, Elkview, St. Albans, and Teays Valley. They opened Bricks & Barrels steakhouse in Charleston in 2015— again with no experience. “We knew what good food and good service look like, and we felt confident enough that we could work with others to achieve it,” Matt says. Bricks & Barrels found good success in time for them to close the salons in 2017.

But is one business really enough? In 2019, a friend who’d started Axes & Ales axe-throwing bar and the adjacent Lucky Dill deli had to leave the state, so they took them off his hands, adding taps and staff and quickly increasing revenues.

Then the Holberts turned their talents homeward, in a stately downtown Clendenin bank building they bought after the flood of 2016. They had no plans for it at the time, but now the cyclists, kayakers, and others who are drawn to the new Elk River Trail can rent an Airbnb
upstairs and enjoy a beer at the Clendenin Brewing Company on the ground floor!

Three cheers for these two entrepreneurs in our region!