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Norton business wins prestigious statewide honors





NORTON -- The Kansas Small Business Development Center statewide network has recognized Sander Furniture and Gifts as one of eight Existing Businesses of the Year for 2014.

Each regional KSBDC center had the opportunity to nominate one emerging and one existing business from the district for the award. Sixteen business received awards, out of more than 2,000 Kansas businesses.

Greg Panichello, state director for KSBDC, said in a press release the businesses were selected based on being "excellent examples of small business adaptation and success in challenging times."

"They were looking for businesses that are progressive," said Brad Sander, owner of Sander Furniture and Gifts. "A business that is trying to better themselves in the business world."

Sander considers his business progressive and recently has implemented technology into his business practices.

"I used to do it the old-fashioned way until last year," he said, referring to handwriting his checks and keeping track of finances by hand. "Now we use programs and are working on developing a website. We will do whatever is necessary to continue stepping forward."

Sander Furniture and Gifts has served Norton since 2003, when Sander saw a need within the community.

"I was in a position where I wanted to change careers, and I wanted a business my wife and I could work in together," he said. "I was raised in the furniture business, and I realized this community no longer had a furniture business."

Sander found a building to lease and added any furniture he could afford.

"I had already lost most of my retirement in the market crash of the early 2000s," he said. "So I took the little money we had left, bought some furniture and went to work. The community really has embraced us and supported us all these years."

Despite the tough economy, Sander said, he is optimistic about the future of the business.

"When you're a small business in a small town, you don't want to start facing the facts," he said. "It's easy during slow times to wonder if it's going to work. During those times, you really have to keep the right attitude. Sometimes your banker becomes your best friend."

He hopes to continue as a progressive and recognizable business in Kansas.

"We don't let adverse conditions bring us down," Sander said. "You got to believe good things can come out of it."

All winning businesses will be recognized at a ceremony Tuesday in Topeka.