Unique Business Expands

By: Marie Luby Email
By: Marie Luby Email

Many business owners around the nation are struggling with loans they can not pay off, but we found a small business owner in Letcher County who says staying away from borrowing allowed his business to flourish.

Jack Looney's business plan is simple: "It's just getting up in the morning and working all day long," he says.

He had no idea the construction business he started in 1976 would grow to include Highland Winery, a bed and breakfast, and a Christmas tree farm on reclaimed surface mining land.

Looney says, "No, i didn't have no plans, I just done whatever my wife told me to do."

His other success secret: he never borrowed money ... even though it took eight years to turn a profit on Christmas trees.

"I sold a bunch of trees, 100 thousand of them, for reclamation to another coal company to set back out on their strip job," he says.

He gradually invested the profits into the winery and bed and breakfast. This year Looney bought five more properties to fix up for new visitors.

"Those two cottages that you looked at, they were in this bad of shape when we started," he says.

With all the expansion, Looney says he could use at least another 25 full-time employees.

"If I had competent people that I could walk off and leave alone, and let them work by themselves, it's unnumbered the amount of people I could put to work," he says.

Looney credits his wife and now grown children with helping build the businesses from the ground up.

We asked how much more he might expand.

"I just move on the way I'm told to move and that's it. Guys, you can never go wrong listening to your wife," he says.

If it's okay with her, soon Looney would like to retire.

Looney says he would sell the businesses if the right buyer came along.

For more information about the Highland Winery, Bed and Breakfast, and Christmas Tree Farm, call 606-855-7968.


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