Lail gets top honors

Published 9:32 am Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Kenbridge resident Ernest R. “Randy” Lail received the prestigious Longwood Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC) 2016 Small Business Advocate of the Year Award recently.

The award was handed out during the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce’s December meeting, according to a press release.

Sheri McGuire, executive director of the Longwood SBDC, presented the awards.

“It’s really a nice honor and certainly unexpected,” said Lail, who has a diverse business background. “I didn’t have any idea and certainly that wasn’t why I was trying to help anyway … It was certainly a nice honor.”

Lail has resided in Lunenburg County his entire life, and has lived in Kenbridge since 1981.

Lail’s distinction recognizes an outstanding individual from the southern Virginia service region for their remarkable support of the SBDC’s mission, according to the release.

“The selection of Lail was an easy one because his service encompassed multiple roles,” McGuire said.

Lail said he “really appreciated” the honors.

“My background is business,” he said, citing his work with Peebles Department Store.

When asked from where his business acumen stemmed, he said, “I think having been from this area and seen what has happened to the economy

in this area really during my lifetime. When I was growing up, this area was active between agriculture and textiles and furniture. Southern Virginia was kind of the place to be when I was a teenager. But, those industries have, to some extent, even moved overseas or not fared as well.”

Lail said it was important to encourage small businesses and those who’ve grown up in Lunenburg to stay here, which equates to greater economic development. “Certainly all of that is a part of why I am interested. It’s a great place to live.”

Lail, a former CPA and CFO, has worked with the SBDC to improve outreach programs, to offer mentoring to businesses in need and to help design and deliver a new peer-to-peer program connecting existing small businesses that can learn and grow together, according to the release. “In addition to his contributions through the SBDC, Lail also serves on boards for Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative, Virginia Growth and Opportunity Regional Council and Benchmark Community Bank, all of which support economic growth broadly in the area,” officials said in the release.

“Lail has given selflessly of his time and expertise to help ensure that southern Virginia maintains an economic landscape where small businesses thrive,” McGuire said. “We are proud to honor him as the advocate he has proven to be over the past years.”

Covering everything from how to start a business to marketing and business management, the Longwood SBDC has been serving southside Virginia for over 25 years. With offices in Farmville, South Boston, Martinsville, Petersburg and Danville, business owners and potential business owners in a 20-county area can receive training, personal consulting and economic research free of charge.