New York SBDC Honors Entrepreneurs of the Year
Albany – The New York Small Business Development Center (SBDC) announced its statewide Entrepreneur of the Year award winners from over 20,000 clients during the past year.

The NY SBDC Entrepreneur of the Year awards are given to business owners whose efforts and contributions resulted in strong business growth during the past calendar year with the assistance of SBDC Business Advisors, research and services.

“We are pleased to recognize our Entrepreneurs of the Year for their extraordinary efforts in business, as well as contributions to their communities,” said SBDC State Director James King. “Their hard-work and dedication helped them achieve success and accomplish their goals, while at the same time making a positive impact on the state’s economy.”

This year nine business owners were honored as SBDC “Entrepreneurs of the Year”:

Versa-Tel, Inc., client of the Farmingdale SBDC was named Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year. The company designs and installs cutting edge commercial telecommunications systems, specializing in full-scope fiber optic network systems for high speed data and voice. The SBDC assisted the business in applying for and obtaining a NYS Service Disabled Veteran Certification, one of only 160 small businesses with this certification. The business is owned by Michael D’Antoni.

Mindwick, Inc., client of the Stony Brook SBDC was named Technology Entrepreneur of the Year. Mindwick provides early science education for students in grades 1-3. In 2015 Mindwick was awarded a $150,000 Phase I SBIR grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop "Ready for STEM" - a new educational program for improving reasoning skills in elementary school students. The business is owned by Elena Yakubovskaya.

Gillinder Glass, client of the Mid-Hudson SBDC was named Exporter of the Year. Gillinder Glass is a custom glass manufacturer that specializes in custom-molded, hand-pressed glass products, including the glass components for airfield runway lights. Exports rose from less than 2% of sales to over 20% in sales in four years. The business is owned by Charles Gillinder.

Heidelberg Bread, client of the Mohawk Valley SBDC was named Manufacturer of the Year. The company makes bread and baked goods whose ingredients are free of preservatives and sourced from local farms. Owner Boyd Bissell consulted the SBDC for assistance with financing to build a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. The building expansion project of $5.7 million enables the firm to dramatically increase capacity and expand their market.

Cutting Edge Lawn Service, client of the Mid-Hudson SBDC was named Minority Entrepreneur of the Year. Cutting Edge provides lawn service, landscaping, tree trimming, tree removal, stump grinding, and snow plowing/removal for regional, municipal, public authorities and commercial accounts. The business is owned by Percy Caraballo, who grew the business from one lawn mower and trailer to 13 trucks, seven trailers, four chippers and a stump grinder. Through the assistance of the SBDC, the business recently obtained its MWBE Certification.

Daughter for Hire, client of the Mohawk Valley SBDC was named Growth Company of the Year. The company provides companion care services to senior citizens, including meal preparation, grocery shopping, medication reminders, laundry, housekeeping, companionship and advocacy. The company has evolved from a sole proprietor, home-based company into a partnership with commercial office space, and revenues that grew by more than 300% from 2013 to 2015. The business is co-owned by Kathleen Rutishauser and Denise Flihan.

Kimco Group, Inc., client of the Farmingdale SBDC was named Procurement Entrepreneur of the Year. Kimco is a mechanical construction company that specializes in plan and specification work both in the public and private sector. The company has grown substantially from completed projects of less than $10,000 in 2012 to more than $3.5 million in completed projects by the end of 2015, thanks to Federal and State procurement opportunities. The business is owned by Kim DiLeo.

Sabrina’s Play Studio, client of the York SBDC was named Woman Entrepreneur of the Year. Sabrina's Play Studio is a 1,900-square-foot in-door play-space designed for kids from infants up to age 9 where children can play in a safe environment, expand their motor and social skills, and foster their cognitive development. In addition to standard play time, the center has expanded to include after-school programming, summer camp, birthday parties, children’s yoga, and storytelling sessions. The business is owned by Sabrina Samuel.

Topical BioMedics, client of the Mid-Hudson SBDC was named Biomedical Company of the Year. The company manufactures natural pain relief products to help people suffering from traumatic injuries and chronic pain. Sales are up 30% over 2015, and the company is poised for accelerated growth in the months ahead. The business is co-owned by Lou and Aurora Paradise.

In addition, the SBDC inducted Walt Borisenok into its Hall of Fame. Borisenok started his company, Fortitech, in 1986 with the assistance of the Albany SBDC. His plan was to make custom mixes of vitamins and minerals that would improve the nutritional value of a wide range of foods and drinks. Fortitech grew into a leader in the food and beverage, infant nutrition and dietary supplements industries. In 2012, Borisenok sold the business for $634 million.

“Walt Borisenok is truly an inspiration. Walt started a company as a young man that ultimately employed thousands of people and changed the lives of millions for the better,” said King.

For more than 50 years, SBA has recognized the outstanding achievements of America’s small businesses for their contributions in their local communities, and to our nation’s economy.


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