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2017 Entrepreneurs of the Year

Eli Smith, So Gone Trash Removal

Bonded Contractor of the Year –
Eli Smith, So Gone Trash Removal [Onondaga SBDC]

Eli Smith has been in business since 2011. His business, So Gone Trash Removal, which includes 24 employees, provides trash hauling, demolition, post clean-up on job sites and estate clean-outs – full service junk removal. They recycle as much as possible in order to promote a healthy environment today and for years to come. In 2013 he participated in the Onondaga SBDC’s MWBE Contractor training program. The SBDC provided assistance with the training and connected him with Empire State Development, as well as other local programs and opportunities to expand his business. Advisor Melissa Zomro also assisted Eli with business expansion and financing advice. In October 2016, Eli was awarded one of the first annual Carey Gabay Excellence and Innovation Awards for Minority-and Women- Owned Business Enterprises at the New York State MWBE Forum Transformation 2016. The award recognized Eli’s “Entrepreneurial Spirit and Achievement as a New York State-Certified MWBE.” He was chosen for this award in part because he secured $5 million dollars in surety bonds. He has also secured over $1million in contracts. (Advisor: Melissa Zomro)

Doris Ulysse, Doris Ulysse LLC

Growth Company of the Year
Doris Ulysse,  Doris Ulysse LLC [Brooklyn SBDC]

The story of Doris Ulysse is testimony to the grit and talent of a determined African American woman entrepreneur. Doris specializes in network design and administration. She is particularly adept at configuring and integrating hardware and software for a full spectrum of client types. After years of working as an IT professional she consulted the Brooklyn SBDC  to test the waters of entrepreneurship. Advisor Janet Page guided her through the business planning process and MWBE certification protocol. Doris became an MWBE subcontractor through the NYC Office of General Services and a contractor for the NYC Housing Authority. After two years Doris returned to the SBDC to better learn how to use the 8A system. Doris obtained a $5,000 line of credit to demonstrate financial capacity. She learned how to search the federal database to find prime contractors looking for partners, and also how to find other 8a firms with which to network. Doris’ next steps are to get an even larger line of credit, finish the NYC Mentorship Program, enter the SBA Mentor-Protégée program, and win multiple federal contracts. (Advisors: Janet Page and Sanford Gerber)

Susan Jablon

Exporter of the Year –
Susan Jablon, Susan Jablon Mosaics [Binghamton SBDC]

Susan Jablon Mosaics, LLC was founded in 2000 and since then has grown to be a world-class manufacturer-supplier of mosaic tiles. Under Susan’s guidance, unmatched quality of mosaic tiles created by the business, which employs eight full-time people, has gained notoriety worldwide. Susan’s inventiveness has resulted in her creations being featured in hotels and casinos, on the DIY network’s various programs, on every episode of Hell’s Kitchen, and in the movie Men in Black 3. Her product is unique and desirable in upscale markets in places in the United States, Canada, France and United Arab Emirates, resulting in steady employment and growth in the business. Susan initially became a client of the Binghamton SBDC following the damage caused by Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene. The SBDC worked with her as she recovered from the storms and then expanded into a larger manufacturing facility, which Susan purchased. Her commitment to her employees, her customers and to the Binghamton area is remarkable. Susan was nominated for SBA Exporter of the Year, and was the winner for the Region as well as for all of New York State. (Advisor: Jocelyn Thornton)

Mark Dyson, Spinland Studios

Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year –
Mark Dyson, Spinland Studios [Mohawk Valley SBDC]

Spinland Studios, LLC is a 3D-modeling and computer animation service started in 2010 by U.S. Air Force veteran Mark Dyson. The company’s primary focus is on broadcast media and advertising, but also supports areas such as instructional and/or educational messages. Over the past 15 years, he’s built & animated 3D aircraft models for the DoD Flight Simulator line, built real-time interactive data displays and controls for DoD clients using 3D gaming engines, built and animated 3D models for industrial firms, and provided VFX support for feature films. Mark began working with the Mohawk Valley SBDC in 2012 to support his transition from a full-time job to full-time focus on his growing business. In 2016 he once again connected with SBDC representatives and reached out for additional support around government contracting and marketing. The business now works with clients throughout the country. Next he is interested in working with the SBDC to pursue the new NYS service-disabled veteran-owned business (SDVOB) certification. Mark has been selected as a new Chamber Board member, another indication of his commitment to the small business sector. (Advisor: Roxanne Mutchler and Judy Wolf)

Ben Primicias, School Daze

Procurement Entrepreneur of the Year
Ben Primicias, School Daze [Watertown SBDC]

J. Ben Primicias has been in the school supply business for a long time. He opened his first store with the assistance of the Watertown SBDC in 1991, selling a variety of educational items for teachers and parents. In 1996 Ben returned to the SBDC for assistance in buying property and building a structure with more room for inventory. The expansion required that he add new employees. Most of Ben’s in-store business is from local teachers, schools and parents, but his catalog has generated sales from across the country and overseas and account for nearly half his total sales. In 2008, Ben added another aspect to his business, consulting the SBDC before building an attached seasonal ice cream stand called Cool Craze, which serves both soft serve and hard ice cream. By 2015, Ben was considering closing the business and retiring because of increased competition with state contracts. He talked to his SBDC Advisor and determined that as a native Filipino he qualified as a minority vendor. It took nearly a year of perseverance, but he finally received his NYS certification as an MWBE business, gaining access to more contracts. With his revenues growing again, Ben decided against retirement and has added more employees. (Advisor: Robin Stephenson)

Gloria Lovece, Infrastructure Unlimited Inc.

Female Entrepreneur of the Year –
Gloria Lovece, Infrastructure Unlimited Inc. [Rockland SBDC]

Gloria Lovece is President of Infrastructure Unlimited Inc., the construction company she started with her two brothers. The company specializes in the installation and remediation of public infrastructure - notably bridges, railroads and power lines. Her company is a certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) in NY and NJ with certification pending in Ohio. In a male dominated industry, she has worked hard to overcome many obstacles. As a startup, Infrastructure Unlimited was awarded its first contract, sealing 28 bridge decks on interstate highways with heavy traffic and finished the project ahead of schedule. Gloria worked with the SBDC to find additional capital to fund her continued growth and to navigate the process of DBA certification. Gloria’s firm received a $375,000 SBA guaranteed loan from M&T Bank, and combined with an additional investment in cash and equipment the company has added three new full-time positions and bidding on more projects. As an entrepreneur, Gloria is fulfilling her childhood dream of having a company where women and minorities are welcome and able to thrive. (Advisor: Adi Israeli)

Laura Cueva, Cueva Interior Innovations

Minority Entrepreneur of the Year –
Laura Cueva, Cueva Interior Innovations [Mohawk Valley SBDC]

At Cueva Interior Innovations they believe that space matters. Laura Cueva and her staff help businesses, educational facilities and medical facilities enhance employee productivity through creative space planning and cost-effective furniture solutions designed to promote employee well-being in the workplace. Laura first consulted the SBDC for assistance in starting her business, and later worked with SBDC to complete the paperwork required for MWBE certification and as approved in 2014. Most recently, Laura consulted with Roxanne Mutchler about marketing and procurement issues. With SBDC assistance, Laura submitted an application to the NYS MWBE Bridge‐to‐Success Loan Program to obtain financing to support a government contract with SUNY Oneonta for almost $300,000. She was approved by NYBDC for a line of credit for $250,000. Laura has received several small contracts with SUNYs and her Bridge to Success loan will catapult her business to the next level. (Advisors: Roxanne Mutchler, Shelby Sweet and Judy Wolf )

Jaime Sweet, Hartman Enterprises Inc.

Manufacturer of the Year –
Jaime Sweet, Hartman Enterprises Inc. [Mohawk Valley SBDC]

Hartman Enterprises Incorporated is a precision machine parts manufacturer located in Oneida that employs more than 45 people. The business’ facility consists of over 25,000 square feet of manufacturing space. Since taking over the family business, CEO Jaime Sweet has achieved her father’s dream of making the business woman-owned and certified. She worked closely with the Mohawk Valley SBDC to achieve this goal and to navigate the various federal and state certification programs. The company is now HUBZone and WOSB certified, and their MWBE certification application is pending review by New York State. Jaime has also worked tirelessly to garner the company various awards, grants, upgraded industry certifications, and other enhancements that strengthen its infrastructure and competitive position in the manufacturing marketspace. These training grants that support the company’s Safety and Quality Management System Upgrade from its existing 15 years of ISO 9001 Certification to AS 9100 Rev C to enable it to do business for the aerospace industry. Hartman Enterprises has already obtained new aerospace customers as a result of this effort. (Advisor: Judy Wolf)