2010 Entrepreneurs of the Year
Certified Contractor of the Year - Amy Oddo, Oddo Construction
Female Entrepreneur of the Year – Patti Heins, Perfezione Painting
Exporter of the Year – Robert Palka, Jacobs Ladder LLC
Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year – Jerel Welch, A-Plus Moving
Minority Entrepreneurs of the Year – Darin Price & Paris Price, Right Price Companies
Phoenix Award – John McGraw, Uniforms, Etc
Growth Business of the Year – Robert Patchen/Colleen Bellnier, Pine Camp Contracting
Manufacturer of the Year – Dygert family, Champlain Valley Specialty of NY
Technology Entrepreneur of the Year – Francis Reilly, Solar Metrology
Certified Contractor of the Year - Amy Oddo, Oddo Construction [Buffalo SBDC]
Yongmi (Amy) Oddo, was born in Seoul, South Korea, immigrated to the US in 1983, and proudly became a naturalized US citizen in 1986. Amy started Oddo Construction Services, LLC in 2005 with entrepreneurial drive and one employee. Her firm specializes in General Contracting and Site Work. Amy competes in a male dominated, highly competitive industry, despite the fact that she is an Asian female. Within these few short years, her company has shown steady growth, and its reputation and customer centered approach has lead to an impressive and growing list of clients. The Buffalo SBDC assisted Amy in applying for and obtaining a woman’s business enterprise certificate and SBA 8(a) certification. Amy is currently bidding on her first Federal project as an 8(a) contractor.
Female Entrepreneur of the Year – Patti Heins, Perfezione Painting [Mid-Hudson SBDC]
Patti Heins established Perfezione Painting after working 20 years as a union painter. With a lot of hard work,she developed an all-female team that specializes in painting, wall papering, and drywall installation. Despite the recessive lull in the economy and the construction industry, the business has grown steadily because of Patti’s reputation for excellence and on-time completion, which set her apart from the competition. Patti has opened new doors for women in a male-dominated industry, encouraging her staff to investigate career options in fields that were once off limits to women. She is an inspiring example of strength, perseverance, commitment to purpose and the application of elbow grease. Patti has returned to the SBDC at regular intervals for help obtaining financing as her business expanded. She is one of the clients featured in the video, Small Business Opportunities in SUNY Procurement, which can be viewed at the New York SBDC website.
In just five years, Robert Palka, owner and president of Jacobs Ladder LLC, has transformed a business that manufactures a unique, patented cardio fitness machine into a profitable, well-run operation, whose customers include health clubs, professional sports teams, and universities throughout the United States and internationally. Jacobs Ladder is a patented, commercial cardio piece designed for fitness enthusiasts, health club clientele, and training athletes. It was recently showcased on the current season of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser”. The company has been at its current location in North Tonawanda, New York since July, 2004 with manufacturing and all direct material suppliers in the United States. Under Mr. Palka’s leadership, sales have shown a steady and dramatic increase from approximately $234,000 in 2006 to $900,000 in 2009.
An Army veteran, Jerel Welch spent several years of working in the moving industry, first delivering furniture, and then managing retail locations for two very successful Rent-to-Own companies. In early 2009, Jerel started A-Plus Moving while maintaining full time employment as a firefighter for the City of Niagara Falls. A-Plus Moving offers residential and commercial moving services in New York State but targets Erie and Niagara Counties. Jerel is certified as a Minority Business Enterprise in Erie County and a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Agency (NFTA). He consulted the SBDC about permits and licenses, marketing, and sales goals. He is now working with SBDC to locate procurement opportunities. Earlier this month, the City of Niagara Falls Development Corporation provided A-Plus Moving with a $10,000 grant to purchase another vehicle.
Darin and Paris Price own Right Price Companies, the only dual certified, woman/minority owned furniture distributor in Upstate New York, which specializes in commercial furniture and case goods, including interior design. Darin does a great job marketing his business and is continually looking for new opportunities. He even appeared on a reality show called “Mind Your Own Business” which aired on a local station and gave his company a great deal of free media exposure. He has visited the SBDC on several occasions for assistance with obtaining government contracts. Right Price has been successful in obtaining and fulfilling contracts with several SUNY units, the Office of the State Comptroller, the Syracuse school district and Onondaga County, Fort Drum and others. Darin is one of the clients featured in the video, Small Business Opportunities in SUNY Procurement, which can be viewed at the New York SBDC website.
John McGraw literally rebuilt his business from the ashes of a fire that just temporarily slowed the growth of his business. Ironically, John is a full time firefighter for the City of Fulton and a volunteer in another local community. His business, Uniforms, etc. provides uniforms to police, fire and EMS personnel, along with embroidery and silk screening services. His perseverance is demonstrated by the fact that just two days after a fire totally destroyed his store the business was up a running. With SBDC assistance, John obtained an SBA 7a loan to buy a new larger space, build it out and purchase equipment and inventory. He demonstrates that adversity is not a problem, but a challenge to be faced and overcome.
Pine Camp Contracting Inc. was established in 2007 as a small painting contractor. Owners Robert Patchen and Colleen Bellnier were working as residential contractors when they consulted the SBDC to learn more about doing business with the government. The SBDC helped them register in the Central Contract Registry (CCR) and complete a HUBZone Certification application, both of which would improve their likelihood of winning contracts. The SBDC also provided assistance with financial projections to obtain working capital. Hard work, certification, and the successful completion of a federal contract have led to more than $4 million in new contracts and enabled Pine Camp to more than double the number of employees. They are taking the right steps to break into the procurement side of contracting which will help them achieve more success.
Champlain Valley Specialty of NY produces snack size packages of sliced apples grown in the Champlain Valley, using a state of the art system that makes them an industry leader in food safety. GrabApples™ are high in vitamin C and provide dietary fiber! The Dygert’s strategic decision to focus strictly on slicing apples resulted in nearly 100% growth in revenues in 2009 over the previous year. The SBDC provided assistance with financial projections that enabled CVSNY to obtain a loan to purchase a Fresh Appeal® food processing system, which will be the first implementation of the technology in the US, and will increase the shelf quality of their product. Martin Drolet is the Vice President of Operations for the company - he joined the company in 2009.
Solar Metrology analysis tools enable the accurate measurement of the CIGS (copper-indium-gallium-selenium) film on solar panels during the manufacturing process, helping manufacturers to produce panels with significantly fewer defects. The company’s device is the only commercial solution on the market at the moment. Francis Reilly came to SBDC to help secure financing to fulfill orders and grow the company. The SBDC helped the client prepare for presentations to several angel investors and venture capitalists, but none were interested in providing financing, despite the fact that Frank had $1 million in orders. Finally Frank and his co-owner put it all on the line, investing personal funds to produce enough units to fill the orders. They sold 30 measuring controls systems at $100k - $250k each, with a gross margin of 50% to clients in the US and abroad. In October 2009, the company finally received a $200k grant from NYSERDA for marketing and received a $110k NYS tax credit for 2008 and 2009. Frank is developing the next generation of his system and targeting the Chinese market.