Sarah Williams and Lynn Hoeppner, Element Athletics

Last modified: Saturday, February 08, 2014
Job title and company: Co-owners, Element Athletics, 37 Bray Road, Shelburne Falls

Age: Sarah, 26; Lynn, 55

When business opened: January 2013

How did you start your business? Lynn started a club field hockey program for Indoor Action Sports nine years ago, and Sarah started coaching for her eight years ago while attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she played field hockey as well. Lynn continued to develop her program. When Sarah returned home post-college, Lynn soon called on her to return to the area and become her right-hand lady. A year and a half ago, Sarah mentioned to Lynn the idea of following their dream of having a multi-sport club program and one day owning their own facility. After months of planning, Element Athletics incorporated in January 2013.

What’s most challenging about your work? Over the last year we have learned numerous things that have changed the way we run a business. Since it is a start-up business, the hardest part is balancing our personal lives while still achieving the dream we have both have.

What do you like about it? We love the fact that we are doing what we are passionate about and are providing our athletes with an education on the recruiting process with a focus on academics first.

What is your key to success? Developing honest relationships with our clients, college coaches and others in the community.

Did your business add or lose any employee positions in 2013? We didn’t lose any positions. In fact, we are continuously looking to add more coaches to our staff.

What role does technology play in your business? Technology plays a large role in our business as we use a database to connect with our clients and beyond. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and our website are all used on an almost daily basis.

Why did you choose to do business in the Valley? The Valley has been Lynn’s home her entire life and has become Sarah’s home. We like the four seasons and the opportunities our climate provides for recreation. We are intrigued by the people who live here and the values that they bring to our program. Why wouldn’t we stay here is a harder question to answer!

What has surprised you most about your new business endeavor? That no matter how our client numbers grow, our business continues to have a family atmosphere.

Name a few of your goals for the coming year: To continue to grow our field hockey program while starting lacrosse programs to grow the sport in the Valley.

Tell us a little-known fact about you: Our educational backgrounds: Sarah majored in environmental design. Lynn was a music major.

What is your advice for others seeking business success: Do research and ask lots of questions to just about anyone you think could have an answer or suggestion. You will be surprised at who is willing to help you get your business off the ground.