Biz Briefs: Over half of Asheville workers employed by small businesses

PICKING AND STRUMMING: Knowlton Lee, left, takes a guitar lesson from Mike Ridenour, an instructor with the Music Academy of Western North Carolina. The music school now offers an instrument rental program, a scholarship fund and a music program for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Photo courtesy of the Music Academy

As Asheville residents celebrate local businesses during February’s Go Local, Love Asheville Month, a report by construction industry website Construction Coverage found that 52% of Asheville workers — roughly 90,000 people — are employed by a small business.

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating more difficulties for small businesses, which often have fewer financial resources to fall back on during economic downturns, the report notes. Lodging, food service and retail businesses account for about 25% of small-business employees, but with more people staying home, “these firms face dire circumstances.” 

The total small-business payroll per Asheville employee is approximately $35,853, the study found. Nationally, small-business payroll per employee is significantly higher at $44,777. View the report at

Waste Pro appoints Jeb Hensley as new division manager

NEW FACE IN TOWN: Jeb Hensley is Waste Pro’s new Asheville division manager. Photo courtesy of Waste Pro

Jeb Hensley is the new Waste Pro division manager for Asheville, the company announced Feb. 17. 

Hensley, a graduate of Texas Christian University, has more than 20 years of experience in the transportation industry. Most recently, he served as a Waste Pro district manager in Colorado, where he was responsible for four hauling sites. 

“I’m very excited to be joining the Asheville team,” Hensley said in a press release. “Building relationships and providing excellent customer service are what it’s all about, in my opinion, and I’m looking forward to getting to know the people in this area and providing the wonderful service they deserve and expect.”

Biz bites

  • Planet Fitness opened its first Asheville location at 141 Smokey Park Highway. The 22,000-square-foot facility is open daily 5 a.m.-10 p.m. 
  • Madison County’s Advanced Superabrasives Inc. received the Governor’s Award of Excellence for its contributions to increasing North Carolina exports. The 40-employee company sells customized grinding wheels in the United States and 28 other countries. 
  • The Music Academy of Western North Carolina launched several new services at the start of 2021, including a Music in the Mountains scholarship fund, an instrument rental program for band and orchestra students, a music accessories retail division and a new “Music Together” program for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. 
  • Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams is now open at the Asheville Outlets. The home furnishing store is the brand’s largest authorized factory-direct outlet. 

Locals in business

  • Attorneys Koral Alman, Anderson Ellis and Jonathan Dunlap were promoted to partner at the Van Winkle law firm. The three specialize in trust and estate planning, business development and growth, and complex litigation matters, respectively. 
  • Asheville native Ryan Volatile, founder of Argentina-based Fields Outfitting, began offering online sales of the “bombacha de campo” field pants in December for United States customers. “This iconic pant is central to the identity of Argentina’s famed gaucho, and we’re honored to share a piece of Argentine heritage with customers around the world,” Volatile said in a press release. 
  • Beverly-Hanks Realtors announced their top-performing agents of 2020, including seven agents and six agent teams who closed sales over $20 million. All told, Beverly-Hanks agents sold more than $1.9 billion of residential and commercial real estate throughout WNC in 2020. View the full list of honorees at

Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

One thought on “Biz Briefs: Over half of Asheville workers employed by small businesses

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.