Lawsons Finest Liquids, Sean & Karen Lawson, Vt Small Business Persons of the Year , in front of Lawson's Taproom

Sean and Karen Lawson, 2020 Vermont Small Business Persons of the Year. Courtesy photo

Lawson’s Finest Liquids brewers named VT Small Business Persons of the Year

Vermont Business Magazine The owners of Lawson’s Finest Liquids of Waitsfield today were named 2020 Vermont Small Business Persons of the Year. Sean and Karen Lawson are being recognized by the US Small Business Administration for Lawson’s Finest Liquids employment growth, success in the marketplace, company expansion and community involvement.

Lawson’s Finest Liquids started in 2008 in a small building resembling a sugarhouse next to the Lawsons home. Today the brewery grounds consist of three buildings occupying more than 25,000 square feet, housing a 34-barrel brewery, taproom, retail store, warehouse and distribution center. It has also grown from a husband and wife team to having 51 employees.

“It is such an honor to be recognized by the SBA! When we started Lawson’s Finest in 2008, we were driven to incorporate our core values of excellence, community, fun, authenticity and innovation into everything we do. Launching our Waitsfield brewery in 2018 enabled us to create a destination for guests, as well as support the economic vitality of the Mad River Valley community,” said Karen Lawson. To fund the expansion, the Lawsons obtained two 504 SBA loans.

They also worked with the Vermont Small Business Development Center throughout the years to develop expansion plans.  The VtSBDC is a statewide organization offering free small business counseling to entrepreneurs. It is funded by the SBA and the state of Vermont. The VtSBDC has also been selected as the 2020 New England Small Business Development Center of the Year.

“Working with the Vermont Small Business Development Center for our initial brewery expansion in 2011 and for our major Waitsfield capital expansion in 2017 was truly invaluable,” said Sean Lawson.

Today the brewery distributes throughout the Northeast and although it does not regularly export, Lawson’s Finest ships to Canada for special festivals and events.

“It’s amazing how our mom and pop venture has grown to include a team of amazing staff that make Lawson’s Finest successful today. Each day, they carry out the hard work to deliver a world-class beer and an experience that fans love so much that they’re willing to drive from hours away to be a part of it,” said Sean Lawson.

Each year Vermont small businesses compete for a variety of awards in addition to Small Business Person of the Year.  In 2020, the SBA is awarding seven businesses in other Vermont categories.

Bike Track in Woodstock is the Exporter of the Year, Britton Lumber Company in Fairlee is the Family-Owned Business of the Year, REV in South Burlington is the Woman-Owned Business of the Year, Northshire Living in Manchester Center is the Veteran-Owned Business of the Year, Rise To The Top in South Burlington is the Minority-Owned Business of the Year, Packetized Energy Technologies in Burlington is the Microenterprise of the Year and Marina McCoy of Waste Free Earth in Burlington is the Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

The Lawsons and the other Vermont small business winners will receive their awards during the 2020 Vermont Small Business Awards Ceremony cohosted by Vermont Business Magazine in June. The ceremony is open to the public and registration will be available in May.

National Small Business Week is May 3 to 9. The Lawsons and the VtSBDC are invited to the official ceremonies in Washington, D.C. May 3 to 4 to be honored with their individual award and to compete for the national award in their respective categories.

“What an honor it is for me to recognize the National Small Business Week state and territorial winners from across the nation whose exceptional hard work has created and built successful small businesses,” said SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza.  “These women and men not only realized their dreams of entrepreneurship but have also been tremendous job creators, helping to expand our economy. They represent the 30 million American small businesses – our nation’s innovators and risk-takers.”

Source: WAITSFIELD, Vt. – SBA 3.9.2020