BUFFALO, N.Y. — An Elmwood Village businessman is celebrating a major victory in a competition that most people probably don’t even know exists.

Brian Gavigan owns Sole Man on Elmwood, where he repairs shoes the old fashioned way. He's starting to get recognized for his skills. He just won gold at a major shoe repair competition in Orlando last month through the Shoe Service Institute of America.

To compete, you enter a pair of old shoes, one with the sole repaired, and one without.

"Found out, three months later, that I had won a gold, and it was a real thrill because you're competing against the best," Gavigan said. 

It's one of the highest honors in his industry. Pretty impressive, considering Brian has only been doing this for four years. In this field, that's unheard of. It's usually a career you're born into.

"That was the story for a lot of people at that trade show," Gavigan said. "Was like, how did you do this?"

Brian left a career in marketing and advertising to open his store in 2015. He took a leap of faith on something he was interested in, but had no experience doing.

"Day one when I opened, I still hadn't even turned on one of my switchers yet," he remembered. "But I would buy shoes and just practice."

Gavigan stared reaching out to top cobblers around the world on social media and learning everything he could from them. Their help is what has led him to success. 

It's a collective group of men and women who love their trade, and want to help. It's a beautiful thing. It really is. It's spectacular."