2016 Entrepreneurs of the Year

Biomedical Company of the Year –
Lou & Aurora Paradise, Topical BioMedics [Mid-Hudson SBDC]

Lou & Aurora Paradise, Topical BioMedics

For more than 21 years Topical BioMedics has dedicated itself to helping the multitudes of people suffering with pain  achieve robust healthy living. The company’s flagship product, Topricin® Pain Relief and Healing Cream, which was introduced in 1994, is now a leading natural therapeutic brand. Topricin was developed by Lou Paradise, a decorated Marine Corps veteran who is the company’s president and chief of research, to treat his own painful case of bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and relieve the effects of traumatic injuries. Lou’s wife Aurora, the Chief Operating Officer, oversees the daily operations including staff management, purchasing, and inventory. The company’s warehouse is populated by 17 full-time and two part-time employees. The Paradises first consulted the SBDC in the aftermath of 9/11 for help in applying for a disaster loan from SBA. Recently they’ve returned to the Mid-Hudson center to assistance with business expansion. So far, sales are up 30% over 2015, and the company is poised for accelerated growth in the months ahead. (Advisor: Al Griggs)


Growth Company of the Year
Kathleen Rutishauser & Denise Flihan,  Daughter for Hire [Mohawk Valley SBDC]

Kathleen Rutishauser & Denise Flihan

Daughter for Hire LLC, run by Kathleen Rutishauser and Denise Flihan, provides companion care services to senior citizens in Oneida, Madison and Herkimer counties. The company provides the types of services that allow senior citizens to remain living in their own homes, rather than move prematurely to a nursing home facility, including meal preparation, grocery shopping, assistance with medical appointments, medication reminders, laundry, housekeeping, companionship and advocacy. The company has evolved from a sole proprietor, home-based company into a partnership with an office in Clinton, and revenues that grew by more than 300% from 2013 to 2015. Kathleen and Denise project continued growth of 50% in 2016, which is well beyond the norm of 6% in the personal care industry. Their success is due to the fact that they present themselves as a more professional, polished and compassionate group of caregivers than their competitors. The SBDC has worked with them from the beginning, providing business plan and start-up assistance, and other advice. (Advisor: Shelby Sweet)


Exporter of the Year –
Charles Gillinder, Gillinder Glass [Mid-Hudson SBDC]

Charles Gillinder, Gillinder Glass (right)

Gillinder Glass is a sixth-generation owned custom glass manufacturer located in Port Jervis that specializes in custom-moulded, hand-pressed glass products. In addition to producing as much as 50% of the glass components for airfield runway lights for the US market, the company provides products for lighting and other applications for many industry segments both domestic and international including airfield, aerospace and defense, architectural, commercial, industrial, theatrical, and transportation. Owner Charles Gillinder consulted the SBDC about investigating a supplier in China, and joined the IBD program on trade missions to China in 2014 and 2015. Through the SBDC introductions and coordination, Charles made contacts in several regions for his products, met with existing and potential suppliers, and had on-site visits with local suppliers. Charles also worked with the Mid-Hudson SBDC to obtain a NY Rising grant to recoup losses incurred during Hurricane Sandy. During the past year, the company obtained ESD and CFA grants for expansion into the production of new specialty glass used in night vision goggles. (Advisors: Cynthia Clune & Jinshui Zhang)


Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year –
Michael D’Antoni, Versa-Tel, Inc. [Farmingdale SBDC]

Michael D’Antoni

Technical Sergeant Michael D’Antoni retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2004 with more than 20 years of service, and is now the owner of Versa-Tel Inc., a leader in telecommunications. The company designs and installs cutting edge commercial telecommunications systems, specializing in full-scope fiber optic network systems for high speed data and voice. Along with Michael, his highly trained certified technicians, provide a 25-year warranty on all Versa-Tel projects. Several years ago Michael consulted with the SBDC regarding sources of financing for additional equipment needed to fulfill a $4 million contract with the Long Island Dept. of Transportation for road work. Most recently Advisor Dave Chiaro provided assistance with business expansion, financing, and government contracting. In addition, the SBDC helped Michael apply for, and obtain his NYS Service Disabled Veteran Certification, one of only 160 small businesses with this certification. Recently, the certification helped Versa-Tel win a $2.67 million dollar contract award from Stony Brook University and a $150k loan from NYBDC.  (Advisor: David Chiaro)


Procurement Entrepreneur of the Year
Kim DiLeo, Kimco Group, Inc. [Farmingdale SBDC]

Kim DiLeo

Kim DiLeo grew up in a construction family and learned about small business issues at an early age. After her first corporate job out of college, she soon realized she preferred small business. In 2011 Kim founded Kimco Group,  Inc. a mechanical construction company that specializes in plan and specification work both in the public and private sector. Over the past five years, Kim has expanded her one-employee business to an average of 5-10 employees, depending on contracts in process. Since 2011, Kim has applied for and received certification as a DBE, WBE and EDWOSB. She first consulted the SBDC in January 2013 to learn about Federal and NY State procurement opportunities. The company has grown substantially over the last few years from completed projects of less than $10,000 in 2012 to more than $3.5 million in completed projects by the end of 2015. In 2014, KIMCO became a union signatory in order to expand opportunities in the NY market. She also conducts workshops for the Farmingdale SBDC and mentors other women business owners. Kim graduated from the SBA Emerging Leaders program in Nov. 2015. (Advisor: Erica Chase)


Woman Entrepreneur of the Year –
Sabrina Samuel, Sabrina's Play Studio [York SBDC]

Sabrina Samuel

After operating a childcare business for more than a decade, Sabrina Samuel decided to open another business that would complement the services offered at her daycare center. Her vision was that of an in-door play-space in which children could play in a safe environment, expand their motor and social skills, and which would foster their cognitive development. Sabrina's Play Studio is a 1,900-square-foot play space designed for kids from infants up to age 9. The well-organized facility looks like a giant rec room and is divided into areas for different age groups. When Sabrina was planning the new business, she consulted the SBDC about start-up costs, financing and sources of capital. She got a loan from TD Bank and vendor equipment financing, and also contributed equity to launch her new business. Today, Sabrina’s Play Studio is in much demand. In addition to standard play time, the center offers after-school programming, summer camp, birthday parties, children’s yoga, and storytelling sessions. The center also offers classes such as Mommy & Me, Movement through Music. (Advisor: Valerie White-Samuel)


Minority Entrepreneur of the Year –
Percy Caraballo, Cutting Edge Lawn Service [Mid-Hudson SBDC]

SBDC Advisory Cynthia Clune and Percy Caraballo

Percy Caraballo, the son of Cuban immigrant parents, saved pocket change stored in 5-gallon water containers, as seed money to start Cutting Edge Lawn Service and Landscaping. He had one lawn mower and one landscape trailer when he launched his business. Percy’s fleet is valued in excess of $1M today, and comprises 13 trucks, seven trailers, four chippers, and a stump grinder. Cutting Edge provides lawn service, landscaping, tree trimming, tree removal, stump grinding, and snow plowing/removal for regional, municipal, public authorities and commercial accounts. Over the past eight years, Percy has managed his operations without an accident, earning him an award for sustaining a 100% accident-free safety record. He has 28 PT/FT employees providing year-round services. Percy consulted the SBDC for procurement assistance that led to his obtaining MBE Certification. Advisors Vanessa Primus and Cynthia Clune also provided solicitation reviews, helped interpret contract terms and conditions, and coached Percy in contract management. (Advisors: Vanessa Primus & Cynthia Clune)


Technology Entrepreneur of the Year –
Elena Yakubovskaya, Mindwick, Inc. [Stony Brook SBDC]

Elena Yakubovskaya

Elena Yakubovskaya, a research scientist at SUNY Stony Brook, earned her Ph.D in the field of molecular and structural biology in Russia. Ten years ago in her spare time, she was one of the founders of School Nova at Stony Brook, which provides supplemental STEM instruction to elementary students on weekends. In addition, she is the Director of Sigma Camp, a summer STEM educational camp for gifted students. In 2014, Elena started Mindwick, Inc. with the goal of promoting 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 Phase I “proof of concept” work results were well received when submitted to the National Science Foundation. In 2016, Elena applied for a Phase II $750,000 NSF grant and two new Phase I grants at other agencies. Elena is confident that with the support of the SBDC, her dream of developing a commercialized version of "Ready for STEM" can be realized. (Advisor: Bernie Ryba)


Manufacturer of the Year –
Boyd Bissell, Heidelberg Bread [Mohawk Valley SBDC]

Heidelberg Bread

Heidelberg Bread makes unique products free of preservatives and packaged with old world charm – artisan breads, rolls, baguettes, pastries, muffins, and scones. It’s a local business whose ingredients are sourced from area farmers and other businesses. The business employs local people whose money stays in the community, and the company supports charities such as Compassion Coalition whose mission is to distribute food to emergency food providers. When Boyd Bissell started the company in 1983, he was going against the grain, where the norm in the bakery marketplace was bleached flour and shelf-life extending preservatives. His vision was mass-manufactured artisan bread products with locally sourced, all-natural ingredients and no preservatives. Today customer demand is outpacing the bakery’s capacity, so Boyd 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 will enable the firm to dramatically increase capacity. The new plant, which is four times the size of the current facility, is on schedule to open in June. (Advisor: David Lerman)