Alumni Entrepreneur

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We hope to have regular blogs featuring CCA Alumni in various fields. We want to share stories of Alumni in Ministry, the Arts, Technology and other areas. To begin this series we have an Alumnus who is succeeding in the area of business.

Jarred Drown (CCA 2001) recently agreed to an e-mail interview after I heard of his successful business endeavors way up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. After CCA, Jarred went to Virginia Military Institute then graduate school at Virginia Tech where he met his wife, Jen. They were in the business hospitality management program. They got jobs with a property management company in Washington, DC where they worked for four years at various hotels.

jareddrown1Dad (Darryl), Mom (Dori) brothers Travis (CCA ’05) and Parker (CCA ’03) with Jarred (CCA ’01)

Jarred’s dad, Darryl, owns his own business and he inspired Jarred to be an entrepreneur. Jarred and his wife decided to buy their own small hotel/motel/lodge and began searching for a property that was affordable, had potential for growth, and was in a good location. Sunset Lodge in Escanaba, MI showed up as for sale in one of their searches and it seemed promising as it was in a decent-sized town right on Lake Michigan. The town had many other hotel properties open for business and they could tell that it was a summer tourist destination. Jarred says, “We thought about it, prayed about it, and decided to go for it. This meant we would be quitting reliable jobs we both enjoyed, selling a house we had spent the past year remodeling, and moving halfway across the country to chase our dream”. Understanding the business, Jarred was not surprised when they lost $20,000 in their first year. By year three they became profitable and started reinvesting those profits back into the business. Two years ago their reinvestments included a kayak/paddleboard/watersports business as they felt there was a niche that was not being filled in their lakefront community.
In June 2016, after five years in MI they bought a second property in town- the Terrace Bay Hotel. “We were able to collateralize the equity we had built in Sunset Lodge and teamed up with additional investors which allowed us to make this purchase and continue to grow our business.”, said Jarred. They now own and manage three businesses in town with the help of a team. Jarred has found, “As you grow a business, one of the keys to success is making sure you hire a great team of people to help you meet your goals and get the job done”. Ever looking for new challenges and opportunities, the Drowns are planning on moving their watersports business to the Terrace Bay Hotel and adding a coffee shop onto the Sunset Lodge.
Jarred shared that the reason they were able to feel comfortable in a place so far from “home” was because of their church community.  This vibrant faith community is Grace Church in Gladstone, MI. “We have made many friends there and have grown in our faith. We have also grown our family!” When Jen and Jarred moved they had a four month old daughter. Now they have one girl, two boys, and a second girl on the way (due at the end of May).
If you are ever in the UP (Upper Peninsula) of Michigan, I am sure Jarred, Jen and their family would love to welcome Maryland and CCA friends! Check them out: