WHITEFIELD — Retired U.S. Army Sgt. Joshua D’Agnese is being celebrated as proprietor of The Village Gun Store, which was recently named New Hampshire’s 2019 Veteran-owned Small Business of the Year.
Officials from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s New Hampshire District Office, and others who helped his 4-year-old business get off the ground, stopped by D’Agnese’s business on Tuesday to congratulate him on the award.
D’Agnese will be honored May 21 at the Derryfield Country Club in Manchester during a gala sponsored by the SBA’s N.H. District Office and the New Hampshire Bankers Association. The owners of Tucker’s Restaurant Group of Merrimack, who were named Small Business Persons of the Year, and Maple Nut Kitchen, of Swanzey, which was named Women-owned Small Business of the Year in manufacturing, will also be recognized.
Raised in Tilton and a 2002 graduate of Winnisquam Regional High School, D’Agnese was vice president of the Granite State Association of the Future Farmers of America from 2001-2002. After graduation he joined the Army, serving in the infantry for 12 years, which included much time with the 10th Mountain Division’s reconnaissance unit.
After two deployments to Iraq and one in Afghanistan, D’Agnese accepted an early retirement due to service-connected disabilities, according to the SBA, and he began looking for the next opportunity in his life.
With his military experience and also because he had studied business and military history, D’Agnese, as he was still recovering from the wounds he had suffered in Afghanistan, decided to do an online search for gun store jobs in New Hampshire.
He recalled that the first thing that popped up was an advertisement announcing the sale of The Village Gun Store.
After consulting with his wife, Nicole, D’Agnese began entertaining the idea of buying the business and “being our own bosses.”
Following many email exchanges with the store’s then-owners — Stan and Sandy Holz — D’Agnese made a powerful impression upon the couple, when during a visit, he noted the 1795 Springfield infantry musket that was mounted behind the counter. The musket is used on the insignia of the U.S. infantry.
While knowledge of firearms is certainly important to the owner/operator of a gun store, D’Agnese said an even more fundamental and important skill set to have is knowing people.
Rachel Roderick, who is the deputy district director for SBA’s N.H. District Office, praised D’Agnese for his perseverance and also the partners with whom he has worked. D’Agnese had reached out to the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center and connected with business adviser Stewart Gates.
With the help of the center, D’Agnese secured the purchase, financing with an SBA Community Advantage Loan with Northern Community Investment Corporation. Other groups providing financial aid were the North Country Council and the Coös Economic Development Corporation.
Someone who also availed himself of several SBA classes, D’Agnese told his guests on Tuesday that “a lot of military leaders become great business leaders.”