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News: Small Business Development Center helps Oliver Springs company reach new heights

News: Small Business Development Center helps Oliver Springs company reach new heights

Michelle French, right, CEO of Animal Element Equine of Oliver Springs, accepts awards from Jutta Bangs, left, director of the local Tennessee Small Business Development Center, and LaTanya Channel, Tennessee district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The center for years has been hosted by Roane State Community College.

Feb. 7, 2018

By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer

An Oliver Springs company launched after a successful effort to save a dying dog has gone international and received two awards in celebration of its success.

Animal Element Equine Inc., founded by Michelle French, recently won the "Rising Star" award from the local office of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center. Roane State Community College hosts that office.

The company also received the "Tennessee Small Business Exporter of 2017" award from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The local office of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center is in part funded through an agreement with Roane State and the U.S. Small Business Administration. The college has hosted the center for more than two decades, and its office is in the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce building on Oak Ridge Turnpike.

The center "is a vital service to small business, providing Animal Element Equine with resources for growth and expansion that otherwise seemed unattainable," French said.

Several years ago, French developed an herbal formulation that revived a dying pet - a Champion Japanese mastiff suffering from a rare blood protozoan.

The remedy was the springboard for French to develop other remedies for animal ailments as well as nutritional supplements. Animal Element Equine now has more than $1 million in sales annually.

The eight-year-old company ships over 30 different animal supplements throughout the world. Animal Element has grown upwards of 78 percent. "We are a transparent company and that has value with our customers," stated Michelle. 

The firm has 10 employees and 100 independent dealers in the U.S., Canada and Japan, and its products have also been used by animal owners in Greece, Poland, Brazil and Australia.

French was effusive in her praise of Jutta Bangs, local center director. "Jutta has always been available for any kind of advice or guidance," French said of Bangs. She said Bangs assisted her in dealing with "different ministries and government agencies" around the globe.

The center's annual "Rising Star" award is given to recognize a small business for its "perseverance and success."

Michelle French, right, CEO of Animal Element Equine Inc. of Oliver Springs, gets a hug from LaTanya Channel, Tennessee district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

"With a strong workforce and solid fundamental values, the business has grown and is primed to scale even more," said LaTanya Channel, SBA district director for Tennessee.

"With the help of Jutta Bangs at the Small Business Development Center, we all expect Animal Element to go even further in growth, both domestically and internationally," Channel said.

Bangs called French a “self-taught, highly driven woman, always willing to learn and listen to suggestions.”

To contact Bangs for help with your small business, call (865) 483-2668 or email jbangs@tsbdc.org.

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