Thursday April 28, 2011

SBA to Honor CNY Small Business Week Winners

Heavyweights of the small business world take center stage

    The Syracuse district office of the U.S. Small Business Administration will recognize seven Small Business and Champion award winners at the 13th annual Small Business Excellence Awards in Syracuse at 11:30 a.m. May 2.

    Nearly 300 people are expected to attend the awards luncheon emceed by News Channel 9’s news anchor Dan Cummings and held at The Doubletree Hotel. Three of this year’s seven winners were also selected at the regional level, and will receive awards from Region II administrator Jorge Silva-Puras. Region II includes New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

    Also, one winner was selected at the state level and three winners were selected at the district level. The Syracuse district covers 34 counties in Upstate New York.

    The SBA will celebrate National Small Business Week May 16-20.

    Under the theme of “Empowering Entrepreneurs,” this year marks the agency’s 58th anniversary and the 48th annual proclamation of Small Business Week. Small business owners from across the country will be honored for their accomplishments nationally and locally during April and May.

    Region II

    Jeffrey H. Butland Family Owned Business of the Year; William Coakley, president, and Thomas Coakley, vice president; Coakley Carpet One Ace Hardware, Canton
    Nominated by NYS Small Business Development Center-Canton

    In 1902, 18-year-old John P. Coakley assembled a construction crew that became known for building houses and barns better and faster than the competition in St. Lawrence County. John’s startup eventually became a lumberyard and home construction business operated by sons Robert and John. Today, Robert’s children Tom, Bill and Carol are involved in running the family business, working alongside their spouses and training the fourth generation of Coakleys for their entrepreneurial legacy.

    Retail hardware sales, flooring sales and service, and kitchen and bath design and installation services have made the perfect mix, resulting in a staff of 50.

    Entrepreneurial Success Award of the Year; Aminy I. Audi, president and CEO, and Edward J. Audi, executive vice president; L. & J.G. Stickley, Inc., Manlius
    Nominated by L. & J.G. Stickley, Inc.

    In 1974, Alfred and Aminy Audi purchased the once proud but ailing L. & J.G. Stickley company from Leopold Stickley’s widow, Louise, with the assistance of two SBA guaranteed loans worth $135,000.

    At the time, the company had only 25 employees and annual sales of $235,000. After an SBA 504 loan of $522,000 in 1994 and seven expansions, the Manlius factory is now over 425,000 square-feet.

    As a brand, Stickley is perhaps the most revered in the furniture industry, distributed globally through a network of 150 dealers with over 93 percent of its products made in the United States.

    Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year; Lorrie S. Guler, transition services manager; Army Career & Alumni Program, Fort Drum
    Nominated by NYS Small Business Development Center-Watertown

    Since 2008, retired U.S. Army Major Lorrie Guler has served as the transition services manager of the Army Career & Alumni Program at Fort Drum.

    In recognition of the potential for ACAP to better assist soldiers, Guler overhauled the program curriculum, capabilities, size and schedule.

    Guler invited the Watertown SBDC to regularly present on SBA programs and services. By briefing the Fort Drum garrison and division command group, she obtained laptops for participants and instructors. Her innovative efforts to prepare soldiers and family members for civilian life, particularly in increasing awareness of entrepreneurship, have met with consistent success.

    New York State

    Small Business Persons of the Year; Vanessa Kelly, president, and Mark Kelly, vice president; VMR Electronics, LLC, Binghamton
    Nominated by NBT Bank, N.A.

    Ten years ago, Vanessa and Mark Kelly started a real estate holding company which migrated to a wholesale electronic parts distribution company in Endicott in 2004 with one employee and less than $100,000 in sales.

    With their leadership and SBA financing, VMR Electronics, LLC evolved into a value-added heat shrink supplier and ultimately a cable assembly design and manufacturer.

    Leveraging industry-leading design and production quality, Vanessa and Mark have guided the company’s meteoric growth to 275 full-time employees and over $45 million in sales to major defense contractors like Oshkosh, SRCTec, General Dynamics, BAE Systems and Raytheon.

    Syracuse District

    Young Entrepreneurs of the Year; Patrick Ambron, Peter Kistler, Robert J. Sherman and Evan McGowan-Watson;, Syracuse
    Nominated jointly by Syracuse University and The Tech Garden

    The idea for was born when college student Pete Kistler realized his unsuccessful job search was the result of mistaken identity for a convicted felon with the same name.

    After working to improve his online reputation, Kistler realized there was a market of individuals and businesses that also needed to ensure they are accurately portrayed on the Internet. In 2008, Kistler and fellow Syracuse University students Patrick Ambron, Robert Sherman and Evan McGowan-Watson started the online reputation management company. Today, Brand-Yourself offers powerful tools for individuals and companies to proactively manage their brand identity in an increasingly interconnected world.

    Women in Business Champion of the Year; Tracy Higginbotham, founder and president; Women TIES, LLC, Syracuse
    Nominated by NYS Small Business Development Center-Mohawk Valley

    In 1995, Higginbotham started her own special event management and public relations company, Five Star Events. Ten years later, Higginbotham launched Women Together Inspiring Entrepreneurial Success, a new statewide business organization to help women entrepreneurs expand their local, state and regional marketplace in New York.

    Women TIES hosts strategic networking and educational programs where members make strong sales connections and learn success strategies from inspiring speakers. Membership also promotes women-owned businesses on the highly ranked Women TIES website membership directory and regional marketplace as well as through media referrals and the speakers’ bureau.

    Women’s Business Center of Excellence Award; Joanne Lenweaver, director; WISE Women’s Business Center, Syracuse
    — Nominated by Syracuse University

    The Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Women’s Business Center has served over 4,600 current and aspiring women entrepreneurs since 2006.

    Located at the South Side Innovation Center in Syracuse, the WISE Center leverages Syracuse University’s outreach and training resources into invaluable entrepreneurial opportunities for clients. WISE organizes a variety of networking events, from the WISE Symposium with high-profile speakers and 1,000 attendees to more intimate eight-person weekly roundtable discussions.

    The WISE method for building a successful business incorporates a multi-level approach that works—over 100 new businesses have been launched in the past three years.

Oswego County Business Magazine
Issue 164

Issue 164
October/November 2019

Cover Story

  • Cruse Control
  • Jeff Cruse takes over as top leader for Novelis’ Oswego Works


Linda Eagan

On The Job

What type of marketing do you find most effective?

Success Stories

The Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County

My Turn

Why President Trump Won’t Admit Mistakes


News Briefs on Local Businesses & Business People

Economic Trends

Oswego County IDA Recapitalizes Popular Loan Program

Last Page

Rodmon King