CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- You can call him "coach." But Marmet native Brian Canterbury won't show you how to throw a split-finger fastball or how to execute a screen pass.
No, since October 2011, he has worked as one of several state business coaches through the Small Business Development Center of the West Virginia Development Office.
"It's pretty interesting. Some folks will call every time they kind of have a major decision. I am honored because it makes me feel like I'm part of their team," said Canterbury, who has a master's degree in business from the University of Charleston and is a veteran of several business ventures.
He can sing too, so he's a player-coach, so to speak, but we'll get to that.
At age 34, Canterbury helps to coach more than 50 people running businesses in various stages of launch, development or expansion. "I don't meet with all of them every week. Some are once a month or a quarter -- some have developed into a phone call or text message on demand," he said.
A fundamental service state business coaches provide is accountability, he said.
"What we do is work with existing or early-stage businesses to help them stay on track. Someone will agree that 'I am going to accomplish X this week.' And when we meet the following week we ask: 'Did you accomplish X?'"
His coaching can also get very hands-on.
"I've worked on strategy and worked on human resources and have even gone out in the field to help people execute their sales calls more effectively," he said.
The program came about through funding from the Small Business Jobs Act of 2011. Kristina Oliver, state director of the West Virginia Small Business Development Center, decided to hire more coaches, who are on contract and not paid by clients they coach, said Canterbury.
"Her strategy was to actually pick some people that were either exiting businesses or had a career track of entrepreneurship," he said.
Canterbury, a self-described "career entrepreneur," has had stints as everything from an information technology director to a controller. His most recent full-time entrepreneurial venture was Mountaineer Packaging, which provides industrial packaging to regional manufacturers such as Toyota.
"Toyota would buy protective covers -- every engine that comes out of there has a protective cover that we worked on, designed and provided," he said.