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Daughtridge has proved it can be done

March 05, 2012

In accepting the award as Washington County Business Person of the Year, High Rock Studios owner Rich Daughtridge expressed gratitude to the community. Conversely, the community should be grateful for Daughtridge.

This hasn’t been an easy time for any business owner, and Daughtridge has managed to conquer the tide on several fronts. As businesses have come and gone downtown, High Rock has been, well, a rock. On Public Square, the Web design and marketing company is among Hagerstown’s signature storefronts, showing that innovation and success are possible, even as others dropped by the wayside.

Daughtridge and High Rock Studios have shown a commitment to and belief in the city that few others have demonstrated, or been able to maintain. So often we hear that businesses can’t make it downtown. Well, yes they can, if they are smart, visionary and of exceptional quality. If foot traffic is lacking in the city, perhaps Daughtridge and co-owner Dave Schleigh have the model for businesses that can succeed without a steady rush of people pounding the sidewalks.

But it might be Daughtridge’s other concern, the Leitersburg Cinemas, that best demonstrates his genius. In an era of faceless megaplexes, Daughtridge saw a need for a personalized, family and wallet-friendly movie experience.

So, with the help of family and friends, he and Schleigh took over the Leitersburg theater, which through the years has at times seemed to have had more owners than customers.

Although he said the effort “almost crushed us” (new businesses will do that) at first, Daughtridge has renovated the cinema and introduced an imaginative schedule of events that include first-run films, VIP seating, dinner and a movie events, free retro movies and thoughtful screenings.

And, no surprise here, Leitersburg Cinemas has the classiest website in the industry.

If Daughtridge can maintain a downtown presence and start up a new company in the current business environment, what can’t he do when things finally turn around? We are proud to have such an imaginative and energetic entrepreneur in our community, and we add our congratulations to those he deservedly received at last week’s business awards.

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