Local Businesses Win SBA Awards


Two Severna Park-area businesses are winners of 2024 Maryland Small Business Week Awards.

The Baltimore district of the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) named Christie and Greg Coster, owners of The Big Bean, Small Business Persons of the Year, and chose Ian Chaput, owner of TruSeal Asphalt and Concrete, for the Young Entrepreneur award.

The Costers described winning this award as a full-circle moment, because a loan from the SBA helped to facilitate their purchase of The Big Bean back in 2019.

“It was more of a dream than it was possible, and [the SBA] helped us work through all the hurdles to get us funding for this original shop,” Greg said. “I kind of felt like we made them proud.”

Since then, Greg and Christie have expanded the business to include an Annapolis location, and they will soon open a third shop in Millersville.

Sitting at a table along the B&A Trail just outside their Severna Park coffee shop, the Costers greeted friends and customers by name as they passed. The original Big Bean is a central part of not only their business but also their love story – they met there: Christie was one of the original baristas and Greg was a frequent customer.

“He would just come in, make everybody laugh, and walk out,” Christie recalled.

While the Severna Park location is their cornerstone, Greg focused on The Big Bean Annapolis in the materials he provided for the SBA award. Their Annapolis shop is at 888 Bestgate Road – in what used to be a portion of the Capital Gazette newsroom.

Not long after they acquired The Big Bean, the Costers were approached about opening at Bestgate, part of an effort to bring positivity and community to a space that represented the exact opposite since the deadly shooting that claimed the lives of five Gazette employees in 2018.

Greg remembers vividly the day in April 2020 when they first visited 888 Bestgate – the dreary weather, meeting in the cold, empty office building and standing six feet apart per pandemic protocol.

“It’s like everything telling you ‘do not do this,’ but that one voice in the back of your head saying, ‘There’s a purpose,’” he said.

Christie added, “We felt very led.” She explained that part of their process was meeting with the families of victims before moving forward with the project. “It was really an honor that some of them would even meet with us and talk to us about how they felt about it, and what they went through,” she said.

They officially opened that shop in June 2021 and have witnessed a revival of the building as it has filled with other businesses, as well.

The Costers’ intention with all of their locations is to create an inviting, non-pretentious space, where people can come as they are, and order their coffee however they’d like.

“If they want 20 pumps of raspberry syrup in their coffee, we’ll do it gladly,” Greg said.

Ian Chaput, the Baltimore SBA district’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year, considers the award to be a reflection of the community’s support for his and other small businesses.

A 2014 graduate of Severna Park High School and owner and president of TruSeal Asphalt and Concrete, Chaput had an entrepreneurial spirit from a young age — from walking dogs in his neighborhood as a kid, to running his own landscaping business during his time at the University of Delaware.

After gradually growing a client base while working a sales job full time, Chaput shifted his focus to TruSeal Asphalt and Concrete in March 2022.

“One day my hands are covered in asphalt sealer and I’m dirty, and the next day I’m meeting with commercial clients,” said Chaput, who considers the lack of monotony a perk of the job.

TruSeal provides a range of asphalt and concrete services for both commercial and residential clients, including sealcoating, parking lot striping, curb and speed bump installation, sport court resurfacing and driveway sealcoating.

Chaput credits his “old school” upbringing and his personal and professional mentors along the way with teaching him the skills and character traits necessary to run his business. His advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to find their own trusted mentor, keep learning and, most importantly, to never quit.

“There’s going to be really hard times, it’s going to be difficult, especially in the beginning … but you don’t quit,” Chaput said.

Chaput hopes to grow his business in a way that allows him to give back to the community, but not so big that it loses its local feel.

“The better our community can do, the more we will all thrive together, and the better our lives will be together,” Chaput said. “It makes it a better place for us to all live and prosper at the end of the day, for our future kids to live and prosper, and I think the core of that is local businesses.”

The Costers and Chaput were both nominated by the Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce. They will be honored, along with the other district winners, at the Maryland Small Business Week Awards Luncheon on June 6 at Martin’s West in Woodlawn, Maryland.


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