NFIB Louisiana Member Profile: Spillway Sportsman

Date: August 05, 2015

Here's how member Scott Roe tackled challenges at his business.

Scott Roe started his career in civil engineering, but in 2000
began noticing a decline in workload across the industry and didn’t want to be
constantly concerned about projects that may or may not happen. So he started
looking for other options.

As an avid outdoorsman, the sporting goods industry was
appealing to Roe, and as luck would have it, he discovered Spillway Sportsman, a sporting
goods convenience store that had been in business since 1978. The company had
sufficient real estate that was suitable for expansion, and the potential for
business growth in the area—West Baton Rouge Parish—was promising. So in 2003,
Roe purchased Spillway Sportsman.

Since then, the area has been hit by a variety of challenges,
mostly notably Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gustav. However, these problems
also provided an opportunity for Spillway to thrive in serving the community.
For example, the store’s gas station was the only one open for almost a week in
the WBR Parish after Hurricane Gustav.

“Because of our service to our customers, their loyalty
continues to help Spillway grow and prosper,” Roe says. “[Our] lessons learned
from the storms would be to always be prepared to provide goods and services to
our community whenever a time of crisis is at hand. It is this same community
that needs us as much as we need them.”

Roe says his biggest mistake was not taking advantage of the
opportunity to add a truck stop and casino to Spillway’s site in 2008. This
move, which is no longer an option, would have brought tremendous growth to the
business and allowed him to pay off the company’s debt. However, he says,
Spillway still averages about 5 percent growth per year.

Another challenge for Spillway has been the opening of Bass Pro
Shops and Cabela’s. While Roe received no government money to develop his
location, he spent a lot of time and money in 2007 to prevent Bass Pro and
Cabela’s from receiving an unfair advantage: $64 million and $32 million,
respectively, in tax increment financing.

“During this time, I learned just how much legislators have
control over my business and my life, and it did not sit well with me at all,”
Roe says. “NFIB gives me a voice that small businesses need to survive and be
competitive against the [big-]box stores. Without my connections in NFIB, I
would not be able to stay abreast of current issues that may affect the outcome
of my business.”

Roe says the best and most difficult things about small
business ownership are flip sides of the same coin: being the ultimate
decision-maker. While this fact has given him satisfaction and allowed him the
freedom to spend time with his children, who are active in sports and travel a
lot for games, it has also caused heartache and frustration.

“From employee issues to cash flow, there are times when I
could have thrown my hands up in disgust and walked away, but we aren’t given
what we can’t handle, so I just tighten the chinstrap and move on,” Roe says.
“Did I make the right decision to leave engineering and build a business?
Sometimes I wonder, but at the end of the day, I’m very happy with my life.”

Related Content: Small Business News | Louisiana

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