The best small business owner in every state

SBAHeidi Neal, owner of the Loyal Biscuit Company in Maine.

Small businesses are responsible for two-thirds of new jobs created in the US and employ nearly half of the nation’s workforce, according to the US Small Business Administration.

This week the SBA is honouring these businesses and their owners as part of National Small Business Week, an annual tradition since 1963.

To highlight outstanding growth and innovation, the SBA has selected a small business person of the year in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three US territories.

This year’s winners include an animal shelter in Maine, a candy shop in Idaho, and a solar energy company in California.

ALABAMA: Donna Coleman, Aetos Systems Inc.

In 2007, Coleman founded Aetos Systems, a Huntsville-based information technology and engineering services company geared toward government and commercial clients.

A year later, Aetos became a prime contractor for clients including NASA and the US Department of Defence. The company currently employs 48 people and has over $US9 million in revenues.

ALASKA: Renee L. Schofield, Tongass Substance Screening

Schofield used a $US20,000 small business loan to acquire TSS in 1999. At that point, she was the company's only employee -- on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide drug and alcohol testing.

Today, the company's 14 employees operate out of Alaska, Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri, serving 325 clients and 7,000 people.

ARIZONA: Michael T. Melton, ClearCall Solutions

Since 2001, Melton has launched several businesses that fall under the umbrella of ClearCall Solutions, a Chandler-based inbound call center focusing on customer acquisition.

In the last five years, the company has experienced 255% revenue growth, from $US9.7 to $US32.8 million, and added 280 employees.

ARKANSAS: Joel T. Johnson, P.I. Roofing

In 2001, Johnson launched P.I. Roofing, a full-service roofing company based in North Little Rock, with a focus on residential customers in central Arkansas.

By 2008, he had expanded into Arkansas and northeast Texas; but after the financial crisis hit, the company moved back to central Arkansas. The company is now working its way back to pre-recession revenue levels and hopes to hit $US5 million in sales this year.

CALIFORNIA: Brian L. Milholland, Milholland Solar & Electric

Milholland Solar and Electric is a full-service solar and electrical contracting company that started out as a small home-based business in 1990.

Over the last two decades, the company has continued to thrive. Even after the 2008 recession, it grew its revenue and workforce by 300%. Today Milholland operates out of El Cajon and employs 48 full-time workers.

COLORADO: Teresa L. Porter, ISYS Technologies

ISYS Technologies is a woman-owned, engineering and information technology services firm providing services to federal, state and local government customers across the globe.

Since Porter joined ISYS in 2002, the company's annual revenues have grown from less than $US1 million to more than $US22 million and the staff has gone from two employees to more than 200. Currently, ISYS has offices in Littleton and Colorado Springs; in 2015, it plans to open an office in Omaha.

CONNECTICUT: Michael Smulders, Garden of Light

Bakery on Main started as a small natural foods market in Glastonbury. In 2004, Smolder opened the larger shop in East Hartford, which today is a family-owned, gluten-free, non-GMO food manufacturing company. He subsequently launched Garden of Light, a natural foods market that sells gluten-free, non-GMO bakery products in Avon.

Smolder plans to expand Bakery on Main with loans from the SBA and the Department of Economic and Community Development -- namely, adding 127 employees in the next three years.

DELAWARE: Joseph B. Winemiller, Greenleaf Services Inc.

Winemiller founded Greenleaf Services, a Wilmington-based full-service construction and landscaping firm, in 1992. The company manages projects for national cemeteries, as well as state and federal agencies.

When it launched, the company had just two employees; today there are nearly 50 people on staff. Over the last two decades, Greenleaf has expanded beyond Delaware, throughout the midwest and Northeast.

FLORIDA: Carol M. Craig, Craig Technologies

Craig Technologies is a woman-owned, service-disabled, veteran-owned firm specializing in systems engineering, project management, infrastructure installation, software design, and custom avionics. Craig launched the company as the sole employee in 1999, after getting injured in the US Navy.

Currently, the company manages more than 30 contracts with at least 20 government agencies. It has $US45 million in revenues and is headquartered in Cape Canaveral.

GEORGIA: Scott Soesbee, FlameOff Coatings Inc.

Soesbee founded FlameOFF Coatings in 2006. The company, based in Villa Rica, sells a water-based product of fire-retardant and fire-resistant intumescent paint products.

Since it launched, FlameOFF has helped more than 5,000 projects achieve fire safety.

HAWAII: Russell Ruderman, Island Naturals Market and Deli

Since Ruderman launched Island Naturals Market and Deli in Hilo, Hawaii, in 1997, the company has expanded to Pahoa and Kailua Kona as well. The stores sell natural and organically grown foods.

Over the last two decades, the company's staff has grown from 40 to 150 employees; meanwhile, its sales have increased more than 40% to $US24 million in annual revenues.

IDAHO: Patrick Nauman, Weiser Classic Candy

Nauman purchased Weiser Classic Candy, a specialty food and candy store, with a friend in 2007.

Since then, the store's sales have increased about 11% every year, and the staff has grown from seven to 15 employees. Meanwhile, the business has expanded from six accounts to more than 159 stores throughout the US and Canada.

ILLINOIS: John H. Griffin Jr., AGB Investigative Services

Griffin founded AGB Investigative Services, a Chicago-based full-service asset protection and risk mitigation company, in 2001.

In the last decade, the company's sales have grown from about $US350,000 to more than $US5 million, and today the company employs more than 200 people. Griffin plans to forge into new areas of the security industry, focusing specifically on cybersecurity.

INDIANA: Christopher Shane Conner, Advanced Technologies in Electrical & Communications Inc.

Conner cofounded ATEC with Mark Spong in 2005 and purchased Spong's shares of the company in 2010. Based in Lebanon, Indiana, ATEC is a full-service electrical and communications contractor.

ATEC has managed wireless communication at the last four Super Bowls and the National Football League International Series in London and has shown a net profit for the last four years.

IOWA: Deb Davis, Sisters Homestyle Entrees

When Davis founded Sisters Homestyle Entrees in 2011, she'd already had more than 25 years of experience in the food service industry. Based in Humboldt, the company provides home-cooked, pre-packaged meals.

Though Davis and her husband were originally the only employees, the business now has a full-time staff of 33 people. In the last few years, the company has gone from packaging just 200 meals a month to 42,000 meals a month. With a loan from the SBA, Davis plans to move the company headquarters into a larger facility.

KANSAS: Philip M. Brokenicky, New Horizons RV Corporation

Brokenicky purchased New Horizons RV Corporation, a Junction City-based luxury fifth wheel and travel trailer company, in 2002.

While the 2008 recession took a toll on the company's finances, New Horizons is now producing and selling at 2007 levels and employs more than 40 people.

KENTUCKY: Scott L. Shinn, Sustainment Solutions Inc.

Shinn and his wife launched SSI from their home in 2009. The company is a veteran-owned business and engineering services provider specializing in maintenance, training, service, and installation of security equipment.

Soon after launching, they deployed four contract engineers to Iraq and Afghanistan to support an X-ray security manufacturer contracted by NATO and the US Department of Defence.

Since then, the company's revenues have grown at least 700%, to $US10.1 million in 2013. Headquartered in Lancaster, the business employs seven full-time workers and more than 40 contractors across the globe.

LOUISIANA: Todd Matherne, Renaissance Publishing

Matherne was already a veteran in the publishing industry when he started Renaissance Publishing in 2006. The Metairie-based business combines book packaging and publishing with non-fiction editing and proofreading services.

He contemplated shutting the company down after it was almost destroyed by Hurricane Katrina -- but instead he and two other employees bought out the publishing assets, revitalizing the business. Two years later, the company boasted 12% top line growth, with almost $US4.5 million in revenues. Today Renaissance Publishing employs 10 people and publishes several magazines, which are custom titles for different organisations, as well as

MAINE: Heidi V. Neal, Loyal Biscuit Co.

When Neal bought LBC in 2010, the company had just one location in Rockland; last year, she opened a fourth storefront on in Waterville, Maine.

LBC runs different events and initiatives to raise money and awareness for local animal shelters. In the last three years, the company has donated more than $US40,000 to local animal organisations. One program in particular has helped over 200 cats and kittens find homes.

MARYLAND: Sophia Parker, DS Federal

Parker founded DSFederal in 2007 and was the company's only employee.

But the Rockville-based business -- which specialises in grant program management, data analytics, training and education, and information technology solutions -- has expanded quickly and revenues have increased steadily, from $US179,000 in 2009 to $US10.9 million in 2013. DSFederal also developed a mobile app for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which was downloaded more than 14,000 times between May 2013 and January 2014.

MASSACHUSETTS: Todd Snopkowski, Snapchef Culinary Training and Staffing

SnapChef gives people the training and skills required to break into the food-service industry.

The company's revenues have grown every year since Snopkowski founded it in 2002, and revenues are projected to hit $US5 million in 2015. Based in Boston, SnapChef employs more than 250 workers and has helped more than 1,000 people find employment in the hospitality industry.

MICHIGAN: Pat LeBlanc, EBW Electronics

When EBW Electronics was launched and LeBlanc became owner in 1992, the Holland-based company was a captive supplier for a parent company that produced electronic monitoring equipment for underground storage devices.

In 2000, the parent company was sold and EBW expanded its customer base and product offerings, including a proprietary line of electronic ballasts for fluorescent lights. Although the company has lost significant customers three times, it has continued to thrive.

MINNESOTA: James F. Kruse & Melissa M. Kelley, J.F. Kruse Jewellers

Kruse founded J.F. Kruse Jewellers in 2000. The company had just one store in St. Cloud, four employees, and $US200,000 in sales in its first quarter.

In 2013, J.F. Kruse opened another store in St. Cloud, and by 2014, sales totaled $US2.9 million. Today, Kruse co-owns the business with his daughter, Melissa Kelley.

MISSISSIPPI: Willie A. O'Neal Jr. & Derek Starling Sr., SOL Engineering Services LLC

Since Starling and O'Neal opened SOL Engineering Services in 2001, the company's focus has shifted from municipal engineering to engineering research, facilities support, and logistics management.

The Jackson-based business has grown steadily, and gross revenue increased from $US2.3 million in 2010 to $US8.6 million in 2013. The staff has expanded from just three employees to 117, and there are now two branch offices in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and New Orleans.

MISSOURI: Alan R. Doan & Sarah B. Galbraith, Missouri Star Quilt Company

Siblings Alan Doan and Sarah Galbraith founded Missouri Star Quilt Company in 2008.

The company, which operates online as well as through a brick-and-mortar store in Hamilton, ships hundreds of quilting packages daily to customers across the globe. Between 2011 and 2013, its net worth grew from $US60,500 to $US206,600. With 148 employees, the business is now considered the largest employer in Caldwell County.

MONTANA: Rich Naylor, My Handyman Service & Construction

Naylor was MyHandyman's only employee when he opened the Billings-based business in 2010.

Today, seven employees work on finishing basements, building detached garages and remodeling kitchens and bathrooms. Largely through word-of-mouth advertising, the business has grown over 400% between 2010 and 2014.

NEBRASKA: Scott Mueller, Samson LLC

Samson is an environmentally responsible agriculture business that Mueller launched in 2001. Based in Columbus, the company deals with land holdings, composting, crop production, cattle ownership, and organic waste management, among other projects.

Samson currently has more than 500 customers in 36 states and posted $US3.1 million in revenue for 2014. Mueller plans to expand the business to export beef to other countries as well.

NEVADA: Chad McCullough, Elite Media Inc.

McCullough launched Elite Media, an outdoor advertising company, in 2002 in Los Angeles and relocated the company to Las Vegas in 2003. He initially used a similar business model to one he used when he founded a Shanghai media company.

In the first year, the company achieved 100% customer satisfaction and in 2014 he was named one of Las Vegas' Top 100 Men of Success. Today Elite Media offers digital Parquees, billboards, and taxi top media.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Scott Johnson, Certified Retail Solutions

Johnson and a partner started Certified Retail Solutions in 1991 to supply service parts for the PC business. Johnson became full owner in 1993.

The company quickly expanded to meet customer needs: By 2010 it provided on-site installation, maintenance, and repair services. Revenues have grown 125% between 2010 and 2014 and the company now operates from two facilities in Dover.

NEW JERSEY: Michael Miqueli, San Antonio Broker Services Inc.

Miqueli opened San Antonio Broker Services in 1996 with a single used truck.

Today, the North Bergen-based company has 40 vehicles and more than 55 employees and recently expanded its trucking services to include dry goods imports and exports and major retailers in the Tri-State area. Miqueli expects 30% growth in 2015 and ultimately hopes to grow the company's revenue to $US25 million.

NEW MEXICO: Richard Jackson, American Document Services LLC

American Document Services is a full-service records management company that provides customer information security, document destruction, and imaging of historical and current business information.

When Jackson launched the company in 2002, he was working out of a 3,000-square-foot space, with one shredder and a truck. A few months later, he hired two more employees to meet growing demand. In 2007, he grew the business by purchasing his only other local competitor, subsequently moving into a larger facility and hiring more employees. Headquartered in Las Cruces, the company is currently adding franchises in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Richmond, Virginia; Houston; and Phoenix.

NEW YORK: Charles Feit, OnForce Solar Inc.

OnForce Solar started out as a home-based business in 2007 and has since changed into a solar developer that finances, designs, engineers, installs, and maintains solar energy systems for commercial, industrial, utility, nonprofit, and residential customers in the northeastern US.

Over the last seven years, OnForce has become the largest New York City solar energy provider. The Bronx-based company recently partnered with Bronx Community College to build its new corporate headquarters.

NORTH CAROLINA: Jeff B. Slosman, National Wiper Alliance

Slosman and his grandfather were the first two employees of National Wiper Alliance in 1996. The company manufactures industrial wipes and cloths by recycling non-woven materials and obverting them into dry wiping products.

Soon after founding the business, Slosman also started providing his customers with specialised services like labelling and packaging. In 2012, the company moved into a 500,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Swannanoa. Today, it employs 120 people and sells its products across the US and to around 200 other countries.

NORTH DAKOTA: Paula Klein, Smartt Interior Construction LLC

Klein had 20 years experience in the design industry when she launched Smartt Interior Construction, a general contractor for North Dakota, South Dakota, and western Minnesota. Based in Fargo, the company specialises in alternative materials known as DIRTT Environmental Solutions' products.

Smartt has grown rapidly: Between 2011 and 2013, sales increased from $US3,260 to over $US2.1 million. Klein has received training through the Center for Technology and Business and won the CTB's Woman Entrepreneur of the Year award.

OHIO: Matt Fish, Melt Bar and Grilled Inc.

Fish opened the first Melt Bar and Grilled restaurant in 2006.

Today there are six locations, each one with a distinct atmosphere, plus nearly 400 employees. The original restaurant in Lakewood, Ohio, has gradually helped bring the area's struggling business district back to life.

OKLAHOMA: Brett Bain & Brian Edwards, FairWind LLC

Fairwind is a Lawton-based manufacturer of industrial cleaning compounds that provides industrial maintenance services to the oil and gas industry, wind industry, and government agencies.

Friends Bain and Edwards launched the company in 2008 and by 2013, the company had achieved gross revenue of $US1.8 million and hired 20 employees. In 2014, Fairwind used a loan from the SBA to buy an aerial platform that helps them service the wind turbines and oil rigs more efficiently. Since then, the company has purchased two smaller aerial platforms and plans to buy another large one.

OREGON: Robert W. Powell, Fab-Tech Manufacturing Inc.

Powell started FAB-TECH Manufacturing, a full-service structural steel manufacturing company, out of a small rented shop in 2004. That year, he made less than $US5,000 in sales.

Powell relocated the company to Prineville and, after Facebook moved there in 2009, FAB-TECH ended up solving a problem with its data center. That work paved the way for projects at other centres across the country. The business continues to expand: In 2010, it moved to a 1,000 square-foot office, and in 2014, Powell purchased a 5.5 acre parcel.

PENNSYLVANIA: Joseph G. Zidik, Custom Milling & Consulting Inc.

Zidlik founded Custom Milling and Consulting with Carl Yerger in 2002 (Yerger passed away in 2014). The Fleetwood-based company provides custom material processing and toll processing services.

CMC is growing rapidly: The staff has gone from three to 34 employees and the company has expanded its office and warehouse facilities. In 2013, CMC bought a controlling interest in a custom processing company in Brazil, and the company hopes to manufacture its equipment in Brazil soon.

RHODE ISLAND: Christopher Ciunci, TribalVision

Ciunci started TribalVision, a digital marketing and advertising firm, four years ago in Providence. Its revenue has grown 4,000% over the past three years.

Today it has over 35 clients and more than 25 employees across four offices, and Providence Business News has named it one of the best places to work in Rhode Island.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Melissa Allen Gladden, Carolina Recruitment

Gladden started her staffing company in 2001 on her own, from her parents' house, while collecting unemployment checks.

Rock Hill-based Carolina Recruitment is now a leading staffing service and HR consultancy in the state, with 12 in-house employees and up to 300 temps at a time. It experienced sales growth of 37.5% from 2012 to 2013, continued to grow in 2014, and has recently moved into an office twice as large as its last one.

SOUTH DAKOTA: Sean M. Coffman,

Coffman started in 1999, at the peak of dot-com mania before it came crashing down. After a rough start, he sold all of his possessions to buy out investors and then took out a $US100,000 SBA loan.

His site now has more than 2 million used cars on sale at a given time and his Sioux Falls-based company has 185 employees, $US20 million in revenue, and no debt.

TENNESSEE: Dr. Edward S. Glaser, Sole Supports

'Dr. Ed' started his orthotics business out of his garage in the late '80s, and his first office location was a repurposed chicken coop.

Now Sole Supports has a proper headquarters in Lyle and is the largest manufacturing employer in its county. It sells products to doctors around the country and several international markets, and brought in $US8 million in revenue last year.

TEXAS: David F. Shutler, Utility Systems Solutions Inc.

Shutler is a retired Air Force Colonel who founded Utility Systems Solutions Inc. (US2) in 2005 as a steam and lighting equipment installation service specializing in energy efficiency.

Today, the Dallas company has 26 employees and is a leading energy solutions provider to federal government facilities.

UTAH: Cory R. Robison, Stonehenge of Utah

Early in his career, Robison worked at an assisted living center that shut down due to a lack of funds. His colleagues convinced him to take over the business in 1997, and he decided to retain most of the company's original workers.

Over the past 18 years, Robison has built Orem-based Stonehenge of Utah into one of the state's leading assisted living providers, with four state-of-the-art facilities, $US20 million in revenue, and 400 employees.

VERMONT: Monica A. Greene, Vermont Precision Tools

Greene is not the founder of Vermont Precision Tools, a provider of equipment to the metalworking industries, but she rose through the ranks of the company, becoming a partner in 1996. Today she's its sole owner and is responsible for its accelerated growth.

Under her leadership, Greene took VPT from a few employees to more than 325, and it now has revenues of between $US10 million and $US20 million a year.

VIRGINIA: Paul Tulane Patterson, Generation Solutions Holdings

Patterson founded his retirement and healthcare service company in 1998 out of Lynchburg, and founded a medical equipment and supply store for the elderly in 2005.

Generations Solutions Holdings has grown to 320 employees and is planning to expand to its third office.

WASHINGTON: Lori J. Blades, Kids 'N Us Early Learning Academy

Blades founded Kids 'N Us in 1988 as a single mother, motivated by her desire to spend time with her child while earning money to provide for her.

Today, Blades runs her Mill Creek-based preschool company with her daughter, son, and husband. She runs five schools that are licensed to teach as many as 841 children, has a staff of 139, and is planning on opening a sixth facility.

WEST VIRGINIA: Jeannette Lee King, Strategic Resolution Experts Inc.

King, a Navy veteran, started her management and IT consulting firm in 2007 as a single mother with $US10,000 to her name.

With the help of an SBA loan, Inwood-based Strategic Resolutions Experts grew to 19 employees in five states and works closely with federal facilities.

WISCONSIN: Daniel Sidner & Joseph Muench, Black Shoe Hospitality

Sidner and Muench opened their first restaurant, Maxie's, in 2007. Today they also run Blue's Egg and Story Hill BKC, and the three dining establishments have 160 employees among them. The parent company, Black Shoe Hospitality, is located in Milwaukee.

Business is good, and so is the food. Shepherd Express voted Maxie's the best Southern/Cajun restaurant six years in a row, named it the best restaurant in the city, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has listed it among its top 30 restaurants in four of the past five years.

WYOMING: Jack Bedessem, Keith Marcott & Craig Carlson, Trihydro Corporation

Under the leadership of Bedessem, Marcott, and Carlson, the environmental consulting firm Trihydro Corporation has grown consistently and was ranked as one of the best firms of its kind in the country by the Engineering News-Record.

Trihydro has expanded to high-end technical expertise in recent years, and has begun acquiring large federal contracts. It now has more than 400 employees across 16 offices in the US, with headquarters in Laramie.


In 2006, Parker founded the ELOCEN Group, a full-service program management firm that provides client solutions for new construction, renovations, and information technology integration.

The company has won contracts from the Food and Drug Administration as well as the US Department of Education, which has allowed it to expand its staff from 30 people in 2013 to over 60 today. Parker recently opened an office in Atlanta geared toward commercial and government sector projects.

GUAM: Francis Kenney, DBA Jamaican Grill

Jamaican Grill was founded in 1994 and currently operates three full-service Jamaican-themed restaurants on Guam. Based in Hagatna, the company also imports products from Jamaica, the Philippines, and Queensland, Australia.

When the company launched, it operated out of a 200-square-foot facility; today it occupies three locations totaling 10,000 square feet. Jamaican Grill employs more than 105 people and continues to expand.

PUERTO RICO: Frank Medina-Rivera, Vita Natura

Medina-Rivera opened the Vita Natura chain in 2004; the stores provide health supplements and natural products.

Over the last decade, the Caguas-based company has opened 19 stores in 13 cities in Puerto Rico, plus one store in Orlando. Sales total more than $US6 million. Medina-Rivera's goal is to open 24 local stores and expand operations in the Caribbean.

US VIRGIN ISLANDS: Linda Bailey, Soul Creations Inc.

After getting a vocational degree in 1996, Bailey began working at a local salon and decided to open her own in the fall of 1997. In 2007, success allowed her to create her own natural beauty products line.

Bailey began selling her products internationally through Harmony Bath & Body in 2013, and they are now available in neighbouring Caribbean Islands, Canada, and England.

Now check out the companies with the happiest employees:

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