Lee Elberson and Clay Daniel
Founded in 1994 and working out of a single room, Champion Tutoring has grown to be a successful enterprise with multiple rooms, programs and expert faculty dedicated to enriching students’ educations. This local business is committed to a high quality of teaching, which has been consistently recognized by Albermarle’s Family Magazine’s “Favorites” awards and evidenced by their steady growth.
Champion Tutoring facilitates its mission of helping students be successful both in and outside of the classroom by employing skilled instructors that are able to adapt their techniques to match each student’s learning needs. They value creative learning that both helps the student to learn academic concepts as well as move the student towards higher academic independence. Each instructor has a minimum of a bachelor’s degree with over 75% working towards advanced degrees and each is matched to a student based on similarity in cognitive thinking.
The Central Virginia SBDC first became a resource for previous owner, Dr. Anna Patchias, in 2004 after her initial acquisition of the company. Having previously been a tutor and Office Manager for Champion Tutoring, Anna had the drive to make the company successful, but needed assistance in the financial management and strategic planning side. The SBDC was able to aid her financial learning needs through its low-cost to free workshops that focus on a variety of topics such as “How To Start Your Business” and Quickbooks.
Anna later met with the Director of the CVSBDC to brainstorm a “Recession Survival Plan” that included potential capital financing options should they be needed. Though the SBDC was able to provide educational resources to Dr. Patchias, the most valuable aspect of her partnership with the entity was its ability to be “a support system that [she] could always turn to” and that gave “a great peace of mind in addition to solid, tangible advice.”
Having cultivated a successful business, Anna has decided to pursue other interests and pass her business on to new ownership who are equally as impassioned about the success and mission of Champion Tutoring. Clay Daniel and Lee Elberson acquired Champion Tutoring in October 2015 and bring both experience from past tutoring and business practices as well as an earnest desire to see the company grow in helping even more individuals succeed their educational goals. As both men are co-owners of Clayborne Education already, a tutoring company Clay founded with a one-on-one test prep focus, they saw acquiring Champion Tutoring as a way to expand their involvement in the education market as well as their clientele. Lee commented that it is difficult to start a business in this industry “as tutoring is a trust-based business” and best way to expand is to purchase a well-run business with established trust. As the mission of both companies is the same, they saw Champion Tutoring as the perfect opportunity to do this.
Both men bring exciting and diverse backgrounds to Champion Tutoring. Clay having founded a tutoring company already after graduating from Harvard University, has a strength in identifying needs and tailored approaches for learning. He is able to quantify his methods by his own success through a perfect GRE score three times, a perfect GMAT score and achieving the 99th percentile on the LSAT. Lee has a background with the Marines and in PhD coursework in Physics that ultimately led him to tutoring and volunteering with future entrepreneurs through the Community Investment Collaborative.
Their passion for the company’s mission is evident as they continue to have about twenty students each that they’re tutoring. By bringing in staff such as Meg Gardner as Assistant Director, the new owners are able to sustain both their business interests and altruistic interests in making an impact on their community through education.
Flexible with most schedules, Champion Tutoring currently offers programs in Career Prep, College Essay Prep, General Subject Instruction, Standardized Test Prep, Study Skills and Summer Enrichment. Clay and Lee envision an increase in classes for Champion, based upon a newly written curriculum that will also offer scholarships to children with less resources available. They anticipate a greater need for tutoring based on a future expansion of required academic testing and are targeting a variety of sources with their new marketing plan. Champion’s new owners have found it to be a smooth transition in working with previous owner, Anna, who Lee and Clay claim will “always be a Champion.”