June 4, 2009 The theme for the V. I. Small Business Development Center (VISBDC) awards ceremony Thursday was Meeting Challenges…Achieving Success, and the honorees showed that even during current hard economic times, challenges can be overcome and success in business is possible.
In these hard times, small businesses are the backbone of the economy, said Leonor Dottin, state director of the VISBDC. They make hard times as a time to refocus, a time to develop new niches and a time for a driving force to bring St. Croix where it should be.
Maxine Y. Hart is one of those who is developing niches and meeting challenges. Hart, the founder of A Touch of Max Beauty Salon, was honored as the Small Business Person of the Year. Her vision was to have the ultimate hair salon in St. Croix where excellence and service are the standards.
I am constantly dreaming of how to grow, said Hart. I have so many ideas in my mind. My philosophy is not measuring success where I am today but where I aspire to be tomorrow. One of the challenges she met was dealing with the break-in and theft of computers, equipment and merchandise twice last year.
I have faced many challenges but I held on to my faith and persevered, Hart said.
The luncheon event included a mix of awards with individuals, businesses and entrepreneurs honored.
The Entrepreneurial Success award went to pediatrician Dr. Anthony D. Ricketts and dentist E. Olutayo Delano, founders of Flagstar Group, LLC a business that combines pediatrics and pediatric dentistry. Delano encouraged others to approach SBA and use its wealth of information and resources.
Annie Day Henry, founder of Ladiday Enterprises, LLC., received the Nascent Business of the Year award for her invention of the Bra Pocket, a device that helps women keep valuable items such as credit cards and cash safe.
The Youth Entrepreneurial Advocate award went to teacher Ruth N. Williams for her leadership and mentoring of students in VISBDC's Innovative Youth Business Concept Competition. She guided five St. Croix Educational Complex students in developing an innovative business concept over several months and winning first place in the competition.
The students have a lot of talents — they just need guidance. I appreciate that the kids didn't give up and were patient to the end, said Williams.
U.S. Small Business Administration Bank of the year award went to FirstBank, as a lender. Accepting the award for FirstBank was Hubert Frederick, commercial loan officer.
Neil L. Bruan, president of N.R. Electric, received the St. Croix Small Business Person of the Year award. Bruan began the business in 2003 working with his wife, Dina, at their dining room table and eventually growing from three employees to 30. N. R. Electric provides residential, commercial and industrial electrical wiring, installation, security wiring, and energy efficient assistance. The company has also been active in alternative energy projects, being the subcontractor for several V.I. Energy Office demonstration solar projects. Bruan said he asked friends what the key to success was and he found there wasn't just one key, there was a whole combination of things. He summed it up saying be prepared when opportunity arises.
Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis was on hand to offer congratulations to honorees, saying the bottom line to success for large or small business was customer service and treating employees well.
More than 70 people attended the ceremony at Gertrude's Restaurant hosted by Rotary Club of St. Croix, Mid-Isle Rotary, VISBDC, and U.S. Small Business Administration.
The VISBDC is partially funded by U.S. Small Business Administration. VISBDC provides business counseling, business loan applications, business training and technical assistance to emerging and existing small businesses.
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