NEW GLOUCESTER — The owners of Empower Chiropractic and Acupuncture, a chiropractic center at Pineland Farms, think of everyone as athletes, an outlook that paid off recently for the young couple.
Travis Dyer, chiropractic practitioner and co-founder of Empower, said his business’ tagline of not only focusing on athletes, but treating everyone as if they are, appealed to the judges of the Gray-New Gloucester Business Competition, and ultimately won the business a $10,000 forgivable loan and roughly $7,000 worth of services from local businesses.
Dyer and his co-owner and fiancee, Lauren Giovacas, won the first annual business competition “Grow GNG” competition held last fall by the Gray-New Gloucester Development Corporation.
The business competition was modeled after the TV reality show “Shark Tank” but with a friendlier vibe, according to Tracy Scheckel, president of the development corporation. The goal of the competition is to help businesses get a start in Gray or New Gloucester or relocate to one of those towns.
Winning the competition in mid-September has been “amazing,” Dyer said. The contributions from local businesses have “made opening so much less stressful. I can’t imagine doing it without all the extra help.”
Before Dyer, 25, graduated from New York Chiropractic College in July, he began looking for places to start his own practice. Pineland seemed like a good fit.
The farm and business park “had a definite appeal because it’s a strong business community, and already had a health orientation with the farmers market and outdoor activities,” he said.
Dyer and Giovacas are both power-lifters, and the community of health-minded athletes spoke to Dyer’s goal of opening a practice focused on athletes,and weight lifters in particular.
When he heard about the possibility of winning start-up money from the business competition, that sealed the deal, he said.
But Dyer was still in school when he started the application process – which required a one-page business proposal and later a full business plan of roughly 40 pages.
“It was really hectic,” he said of juggling both school and the competition. But he had learned to write a business plan in his courses and, with help from SCORE – Service Corps of Retired Executives volunteer business consultants – Dyer said he had the skills he needed to get it done.
The final presentation in September, when he pitched his business to eight judges from the local business community, was “a lot more friendly” than “Shark Tank,” he said.
Dyer was chosen from eight initial applicants, who were eventually whittled down to three in the final round, Sheckel said. What made Dyer stand out was, he “brought a rock-solid business plan,” she said, and showed his strong commitment to the New Gloucester location.
Scheckel said the development corporation will also be working with runners-up Tom and Jenn Esty, a New Gloucester couple who are looking for a storefront to house their company, Human Nature.
Human Nature and their other line, Pet Works, sell natural cleaning products for people and pets, respectively.
Scheckel said the development corporation would be working to help the couple get their products featured in local stores.
Meanwhile, Dyer has offered chiropractic services at his 49 Pineland Drive office since he opened in October, he said. Clients pay $100 for the first session, which includes a full neurological evaluation, and $40 for every session after.
Dyer and Giovacas live in Wales, but plan to move to Gray or New Gloucester when she graduates, Dyer said.
The center will not offer acupuncture services until Giocavas graduates this spring, also from New York Chiropractic College.
Until then, Dyer is the only employee running the show at Empower. But by the end of their third year in business, he and Giovacas will be required to hire another full-time employee, per conditions of the award.
So far, he said, business has been great, especially since he and Giovacas offered their services at a local power-lifting competition last month.
“Lifters really want someone who knows what their body goes through,” he said of the clientele.
Travis Dyer is recognized as the winner of the “Grow GNG competition” at the annual Gray New Gloucester Business Summit last month. Dyer is the co-owner of Empower Chiropractic in the Pineland business park.