The Altavista Area Chamber of Commerce recently announced the addition of four new members. Read on for a closer look at several area businesses.

Helping customers find a home

Alesha Slaughter, a real estate broker with Divine Fog Realty, has been helping people in the Lynchburg area find homes for five years.

“I like to give back in any way that I can,” Slaughter said about her reasons for joining the Altavista Area Chamber of Commerce. “And I think the Altavista area is underserved with many things.”

Slaughter said she is committed to providing high-quality service to her clients.

“I think the thing that sets me apart is, I want to build relationships with my clients. I want to know about their families, about their children, about their daily lives so that we can find the best property that’s going to fit all of their needs,” Slaughter said. “And then from there, just staying in contact with them even after the purchase.”

Even after buying a home with her, Slaughter said her clients should feel free to reach out for help with other services, such as refinancing.

Slaughter said it is not a bad time to buy or sell a home right now, as most good listings are off the market within a couple of days, often for the asking price or even greater. Additionally, interest rates are currently very low, which is attractive for buyers.

Slaughter recommends that homebuyers know their credit scores, find a real estate agent that they are comfortable with and speak to a lender if needed, to help them understand their buying power.

Slaughter has sold several properties in and around Altavista.

“I would love to help as many people as I can in the Altavista-Campbell County area,” Slaughter said.

Turning a passion into a business

Justin Moore, owner of J&M Photography and Blue Ridge Railroad Photography, has always been interested in photography. But recently, his interest turned into something more.

Moore’s long interest in photography turned from a hobby into a passion soon after he bought a camera from a friend last year. Shortly after that, he opened his train photography business, Blue Ridge Train Photography, and his general photography business, J&M Photography.

Moore said he is currently trying to get as much exposure for his photography businesses as he can, and is available for hire for a wide range of photography jobs. Eventually however, he said he wants to photograph trains full-time. 

“That’s going to be my goal,” Moore said.

Moore has traveled up and down the East Coast to take pictures of trains, from a journey down to South Carolina, to a more recent trip to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and many other locations.

Moore is all too familiar with being asked why he likes trains so much.

“Everybody that knows me has asked me that, and I don’t really have a definite answer,” Moore said.

Moore said he grew up near a railroad track. At first he thought his fascination with trains might be a little strange, but he soon found out there are thousands of train photographers, some who photograph trains full-time.

Moore said he is considering eventually printing his train photographs on canvases and other surfaces to sell at festivals.

Currently however, Moore’s pictures are posted on fineartamerica.com, Facebook, Instagram and Flickr. 

Everything you need on the water

Bob’s Up the Creek Outfitters, owned by Bob McIvor, has locations in Moneta and Amherst and carries numerous kinds of kayaks, fishing supplies and other equipment for recreation and water sports.

McIvor repaired cars for most of his life, starting as a high school student and eventually opening a garage that he ran for decades. 

Then, in 2015 McIvor’s son told him he wanted to go kayaking with him.

“I had never been in a kayak,” McIvor said.

But after one trip, he was hooked.

McIvor then began selling kayaks, before turning part of his garage in Amherst into a kayak store, and eventually opening up his new location in Moneta.

Both stores now offer a wide range of kayaks.

McIvor said many of his customers buy kayaks to use in Smith Mountain Lake, in the Roanoke River, the James River, various lakes in Amherst and rivers and lakes near Charlottesville, as well as various other bodies of water.

McIvor said some also use his kayaks in fishing tournaments. Many boats in the store feature peddles, which allow boaters to propel themselves with a fishing rod in hand, and other fishing-friendly features such as depth finders, rod holders and gear racks.

McIvor said there is a lot of pent-up demand for kayaks that was caused by the pandemic, and though many companies are not taking on new customers until after the pandemic, McIvor said he plans to expand to even more brands in the future.

“Last year we had people drive down from New York, up from Florida and across from Indiana for boats,” McIvor said. “That’s how wide the shortage was.”

Helping local small business owners

Jamie Reynolds, owner of FinTeam Consulting, said he decided to join the Chamber because he regularly works with small and midsize businesses, of which there are plenty in the Altavista area.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to network and meet people,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds also works with the Small Business Development Center in Lynchburg, which he said provides another avenue for him to potentially assist businesses in the Altavista area.

Reynolds said FinTeam helps business owners to manage their finances so they can focus on better serving their customers.

“They went into business, not because they’re finance experts, they went into business because they are skilled or educated or have experience in some specific fields,” Reynolds said about the business owners he serves.

FinTeam Consulting helps businesses improve cash flow, improve operational profitability and manage or leverage debt.

“We help business owners make investment decisions, we help them budget their money, we help them forecast their cash flows,” Reynolds said.

FinTeam can also assist clients with financial forecasts, business valuations and even with getting a loan.

FinTeam takes their clients through a monthly review process, helping them check regularly on cash flow, operational profitability and debt.

“We try to connect people through our network of resources,” Reynolds said. “And by joining the Altavista Chamber, it allows us to expand that network of resources to where we can reach more small businesses and help more small business owners.”