Kristin Horowitz, 2022 winner, Woman-owned business achievement award. The Pad Climbing

The Pad Climbing is named 2022 Women-Owned Business of the Year by U.S. Chamber of Commerce

It’s officially official! The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has recognized The Pad Climbing from San Luis Obispo, California and Henderson, Nevada as the winner of the Women-Owned Business Achievement Award at the 2022 Annual Dream Big Awards held on October 18 in Washington DC. The awards, presented by Spectrum Reach with support from MetLife, celebrate the achievements of small businesses and honor their contributions to America’s economic growth.

Out of a record-breaking 3000+ applications this year, the top 1% of applicants traveled to the nation’s capitol for the awards ceremony. In addition to taking home the title in the Woman-Owned Business category, The Pad was also recognized as one of three finalists for the overall Business of the Year award.

A group of diverse and bubbly people at The Pad Climbing gym

“When we started this,” said Horowitz, “I was one of a handful of women in the local community,  much less the industry. Over the years, we have become majority women-led and owned and it’s been a truly wonderful thing to watch,” she said. “We’ve come to rethink how business can operate through the lens of women and are now at the forefront of how to operate a small business as a result.”

The Pad Climbing started as the country’s first nonprofit bouldering gym in 2002 – originally housed in a self-storage unit. Over 20 years, The Pad evolved into a for-profit, full-service rock climbing gym operation with facilities in multiple states, employing over 100 crew members.

A man carrying a baby and a woman standing next to him with a camera hanging around her neck while also carrying a baby, all of them wearing yellow helmets

“We’ve come to rethink how business can operate through the lens of women and are now at the forefront of how to operate a small business as a result.” - Kristin Horowitz, CEO

“We funded our projects through crowdfunding before that was a term and we recruited our friends and community members to help physically build the spaces beside us,” said Horowitz. “People wanted this and believed in us to see it through. In return, I and my team have always felt that it was our job to continue that legacy in every way possible from taking this from a hobby – totally volunteer run – to an intrastate for-profit agency.”

The Pad Climbing was named one of the Best Places to Work on the Central Coast by the Pacific Coast Business Times and will be expanding with the addition of a new Santa Barbara, California gym opening in 2023. The company aims to lead the industry with policies like 24/7 gym access, no initiation fees, sliding scale and community membership opportunities, and equitable hiring through inclusive and innovative business practices.

A group of diverse and happy people standing in front of a bouldering wall
The Pad Climbing Skip to content