Pre­mier Auto named Elkton Small Busi­ness of the Year

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By BRI­ANNA SHEA

bshea@ ce­cil­whig. com

— When Ni­cole Hol­len­baugh found out that she and her hus­band, Bran­don, had been named the win­ners of Elkton’s 2016 Small Busi­ness of the Year Award, she was too sur­prised to even com­pre­hend the honor.

The cou­ple, who own Pre­mier Auto & Tire, an auto ser­vice and tire sales shop, found out they won when they vis­ited the Elkton Cham­ber and Alliance last month, where they thought they would dis-

ELKTON

cuss their busi­ness’ par­tic­i­pa­tion in up­com­ing town events.

“All the sud­den they put this card in front of us — the in­vi­ta­tion,” Ni­cole re­called. “It just took me a minute to re­al­ize what they were show­ing me. I was just so shocked, just taken aback.”

Bran­don said he also wasn’t ex­pect­ing to learn of the honor dur­ing the in­for­mal meet­ing.

“I think we were both taken aback, sur­prised, shocked,” he said re­cently. “Of course very happy, but we weren’t ex­pect­ing it.”

The Hol­len­baughs will re­ceive their award dur­ing a Nov. 17 ban­quet din­ner at Pa­triot’s Glen Na­tional Golf Club in Elkton.

Mary Jo Jablon­ski, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Elkton Cham­ber and Alliance, said the cou­ple were nom­i­nated by the mem­bers of the town cham­ber with the cham­ber’s board of di­rec­tors ul­ti­mately choos­ing them as the hon­orees. Cri­te­ria for a nom­i­na­tion in­cludes be­ing in busi­ness for at least five years,

be­ing a mem­ber of the Cham­ber and Alliance and hav­ing done some­thing for the com­mu­nity.

“They’re a good choice,” Jablon­ski said. “They do a lot for the com­mu­nity; they have a suc­cess­ful busi­ness, which has grown in the com­mu­nity and they give back to the com­mu­nity, which is im­por­tant.”

The cou­ple bought Bran­don’s fa­ther’s Route 40 busi­ness, Char­lie’s Ser­vice Cen­ter, in 2005. Both Bran­don and Ni­cole worked at Char­lie’s be­fore, with Bran­don pump­ing gas and re­pair­ing cars, while Ni­cole worked as a cashier in the con­ve­nience store.

While Char­lie’s dou­bled as a gas sta­tion and re­pair shop, the cou­ple chose to fo­cus on ve­hi­cle re­pair, re­mov­ing the gas pumps. They in­creased the num­ber of bays from two to seven and re­named the busi­ness Pre­mier Auto & Tire.

In 2009, they pur­chased the for­mer Ranger Sta­tion at 127 W. Main St. in Elkton and turned it into Pre­mier Auto & Tire’s sec­ond lo­ca­tion, which in­cludes two bays for au­to­mo­bile re­pairs. Two years later, the Hol­len­baughs opened up a third lo­ca­tion on Main Street in Ne­wark, Del., at the for­mer Farmer’s Ra­di­a­tor Shop.

Just three years ago, the cou­ple branched out again, pur­chas­ing the for­mer Ken­tucky Fried Chicken prop­erty at 220 E. Pu­laski High­way, and open­ing up Pre­mier Auto Ex­change, a used car lot that was backed by their busi­ness’ high re­pair stan­dards.

While the cou­ple has no plans to ex­pand their busi­ness again any time soon, they have be­come a more vis­i­ble part of Elkton’s com­mu­nity through their sup­port of lo­cal events. In Oc­to­ber, they hosted the first char­ity mini grand prix to race gokarts through down­town Elkton, ben­e­fit­ting Union Hos­pi­tal’s Can­cer Cen­ter. The event was so suc­cess­ful that they’ve be­gun talk­ing about bring­ing it back next year.

The high school sweet­hearts have been mar­ried for 19 years and have two sons, Bran­don and Justin.

The event will in­clude a so­cial hour at 5: 30 p. m. and din­ner at 6: 30 p. m. Tick­ets are $ 35 and peo­ple must RSVP by Nov. 11 at info@ elk­ton­al­liance. org or call 410- 398- 5076.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY BRI­ANNA SHEA

Bran­don and Ni­cole Hol­len­baugh, win­ners of the 2016 Small Busi­ness of the Year Award, stand out­side of their busi­ness, Pre­mier Auto Ex­change, on Route 40.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Ni­cole and Bran­don Hol­len­baugh, of Pre­mier Auto & Tire, backed the first Elkton Mini Grand Prix in Oc­to­ber, which ben­e­fit­ted Union Hos­pi­tal’s Can­cer Cen­ter.

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