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SBA Honors Arizona's Entrepreneurs and Small Business Champions

Posted By Robert Blaney, SBA-Small Business Administration, Tuesday, April 19, 2016


PRESS OFFICE – Arizona District Office             

Contact: Stephen Hart 520-269-9497

Release Date: April 18, 2016                

Release Number: 040615   

Internet Address:                  

Follow on Twitter, Facebook & Blogs          





PHOENIX, AZ – In celebration of National Small Business Week, the US Small Business Administration is honoring Arizona entrepreneurs and small business champions for their contributions to the state economy and the many communities they serve.  Over 97 percent of the businesses in the state are small businesses. Year-after-year small businesses are the greatest sources of innovation, jobs, and revenue growth in Arizona’s dynamic economy.

“Each year the SBA has the honor of spotlighting Arizona winners of our Small Business Week awards in a ceremony that recognizes and celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit and community activism that has long characterized the small business community of our great state,” states Robert J. Blaney, the District Director of the SBA in Arizona.  “These men and women are the risk takers, the innovators and the employers that fuel our economy and daily serve our communities as local leaders.”

The awards this year will be presented during the Arizona Small Business Association’s annual AZ SmallBizCon 2016 which will be held on May 5 at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix.  The awards luncheon is on Thursday, May 5. Information is available from ASBA at 602-306-4000 or

At the National level, Small Business Week will be celebrated from May 1 to 7 with events planned in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Denver, Phoenix and San Jose and Oakland, California.


The 2016 SBA Small Business Week Arizona winners are:


2016 Arizona Small Business Person of the Year

Paul A. Smiley – President of Sonoran Technology and Professional Services, Goodyear 

Warriors, like entrepreneurs, are forged in battle. Though the stakes are hugely different both require commitment, discipline, skill and a drive for success. Paul A. Smiley, President of Sonoran Technology and Professional Services in Goodyear brought those very characteristics, developed during years of military service, to business and he is winning.

His success earned him the highest of awards offered by the Arizona office of the US Small Business Administration (SBA): Arizona 2106 Small Business Person of the Year. 

Paul’s story is familiar to many entrepreneurs.  Drawing on skills learned in the military and in other walks of life, risk takers like Paul strike out on their own to compete in the world of small business. Trusting their fate to past experience, self-discipline, a healthy dose of faith in themselves, and a desire to learn and succeed they embrace an uncertain future.

Smiley and his partner took that leap of faith, and like most small businesses financed their startup on their own while keeping it small and home-based until success dictated otherwise. Focusing primarily on marketing, they took no salaries in the first two years, plowing all revenues back into the business.

Sonoran Technologies provides clients highly trained and security-cleared professionals in program management, aircrew training, courseware and curriculum development, data link operations support, cyber security, IT systems administration, IT help desk and call center operations, facility management, logistics support, leadership training and medical administration, and more. 

Nine years into the enterprise, Paul’s corporate culture of frugality and customer focus has grown the company to 235 employees in twenty-three states with customers across the government. Paul credits a large part of that success to a focus on hiring veterans. A full seventy-five percent of his employees are veterans.

Giving back is part of that culture too. Sonoran offers scholarships to ASU New College and annually sponsors Goodyear’s small business conference.  Paul also routinely teaches separating military personnel about entrepreneurship as part of the SBA’s Boots-to-Business program.

To those starting in the business of federal contracting his advice is to start small, build strong relationships, focus on your proposal writing, and when you don’t win a contract ask why and apply what you learn in your next bid.

On management, Paul suggests that start-ups hire part-time employees until demand requires the need to hire full time, invest money on marketing and business education, and take every opportunity to learn from both your successes and failures.

Winning in business is no sure thing, but from his perspective a corporate culture focused on customer and employee satisfaction helps deliver results, maintain customer loyalty, and produce sustained growth.

2016 Arizona Small Business Exporter

Rita M. Vigil and Gregory L. FergusonMerit Engineering and Equipment Company, Prescott

A frontier maxim often heard as our nation expanded westward was “A good axe and a good saw make the man”. For those in the construction industry today the wisdom about a good saw still holds true. Saws of all shapes, sizes and uses exist today for any cutting job one can imagine. Rita and Greg produce an industry-leading concrete cutting flat saw.

It’s not often you hear about a consumer of a product turning into a manufacturer of it. But that’s the story of Rita and Greg Ferguson and Merit Engineering.

Veterans of the construction industry and owners of G&F Concrete Cutting, the Fergusons found themselves caught between and rock and a hard place when their source for the saws they used was purchased and the new owners discontinued the line. Without the right equipment, their livelihoods might have been in jeopardy.

In the loss the Fergusons saw opportunity. They took over of the very same manufacturing facility their previous supplier had used, hired some of its experienced employees and started developing a new line of saws. Juan Vielma, a designer from the old company, who specialized in flat saws, joined the team and together these “three amigos,” as they refer to themselves, started Merit Engineering in Prescott.

They spent most of 2011 building prototypes and testing them in real world conditions at G&F Concrete Cutting job sites. Being both manufacturer and user of the saws made them unique in the industry and allowed for quick adaptations of user-tested and user-friendly innovations.

Today Merit offers nearly twenty different saw models with many interchangeable parts, an option that attracts many buyers frustrated by their competitors’ design limitations. Depending on the job and the country, their saws can be run by gas, diesel, hydraulic or electrical power sources.

Merit saws are popular in the US and abroad and are currently exported to distributors in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, Columbia, England and a growing number of countries in Europe. In 2015, Merit sold 230 saws and had revenues in excess of $6 million.

Merit’s corporate culture aims to keep customers satisfied by proactively solving problems and delivering innovations and customization quickly and efficiently. The three amigos also know that their success depends on their employees so they focus on creating an enjoyable, rewarding and challenging work environment with opportunities to develop and grow with the company.


2016 Woman-Owned Small Business Champion

Angela Cody-Rouget Founder and Owner of Major Mom, Phoenix

Life can change as fast as the wind, or the turn of a key. Imagine what it must be like to go from being the officer in charge of a nuclear missile silo one minute to a stay at home mom the next.

A US Air Force Major with fourteen years of service, Angela Cody-Rouget regularly had control over one of the two keys required to launch a nuclear missile. She commanded a team whose job required that they maintain the utmost discipline, perform flawlessly under gruelingly realistic surprise drills, and without exception keep things impeccably organized. A long career awaited her, and she thrived in that orderly environment.

But like so many other professional women with newborns, she gave up that future to raise her family as a stay at home mom. Dubbed Major Mom by her husband, she learned quickly just how hard it is to be a mom and maintain an orderly home while caring for a baby and toddler. Everywhere she went moms spoke of the same challenges.

Unexpectedly, family financial circumstances changed and she suddenly needed to add to the household income again. A dynamo from birth, Angela’s skill as an organizer made her a natural to start Major Mom, a business that helps others remove the chaos and clutter from their lives.

After going solo for three years the company started growing. Today she employs 32 professional organizers called “Liberators” for the freedom from chaos they provide their customers. In 2016 the Major Mom Training Academy trained 60 apprentice organizers.

Her unique services, her natural energy, the stellar growth of her business, and her desire to franchise caught the attention of some major investors. In February she made her franchising pitch to the billionaires on the hit TV show Shark Tank. While none of the Sharks bit, Angela came away undaunted.

Plans for future growth are underway while she and her team continue helping clients with a continuum of services including: residential organizing, office organizing and paper management, unpacking a new home, preparing for a new baby, family and time management, downsizing and merging households.


2016 Minority-Owned Small Business Champion

Cecilia Mata – Founder and Owner of Allsource Global Management (AGM), Sierra Vista

Cecilia’s story is that of many who come to the US and leverage their experience to start a small business. Hers is a story of success unlike most others though because many of the services she provides her clients are classified. Allsource Global Management’s core customers are in the defense, counterterrorism and intelligence communities.

Born and raised in Panama, Cecilia worked for years there gaining experience in business, contracting and as a consultant for multi-national companies in England, Switzerland and Panama.

She moved to the US in 2000. In the next five years she worked as a consultant and held positions with both the University of Arizona and Cochise County Workforce Development.

In 2005, drawing on her very diverse experience, she started AGM and embarked on an enterprise that just ten years later has 285 employees and measures its revenues in the tens of millions of dollars.

AGM offers a seemingly endless array of services to federal agencies which focus on intelligence analysis, cyber and information security, logistics, armed guard services, shipping, training, simulations, and warehouse and supply chain management to name just a few. Among those agencies are the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Energy.

Intelligence support services are a large part of AGM’s portfolio too, including: threat assessment, situational awareness, crisis preparation, counterterrorism, biometrics, forensics, counterintelligence, and open source, human and signals intelligence.

A recent purchase of Tucson-based BrockTeck adds drone design, manufacturing and software development to AGM’s services. BrockTek offers commercial aerial and ground data gathering and analysis services that help in precision agriculture management, forestry, herd management, infrastructure management, and search and rescue. It also supplies similar services and specialty built drones to the military and law enforcement.

In March AGM celebrated its tenth anniversary. Employees, partners, clients, friends and dignitaries including Senator John McCain gathered to celebrate with Cecilia and to honor her great success.


2016 Veteran Small Business Champion

Eli Crane Founder – CEO of Bottle Breacher, Tucson

Navy Seals are known for stealth, secrecy and for finding creative solutions to common and unimaginable challenges alike, with whatever supplies are on hand.


The story of Bottle Breacher is a familiar one. A tool is needed for a specific job, a one-off version is created by modifying an everyday item, co-workers see it, they like it, they want one.


A 50 caliber round isn’t an everyday item for most folks, but if you’re a Seal they’re everywhere. And dummy 50 caliber rounds modified for virtually any unique purpose are popular items in both military and civilian markets. Eli tells of receiving a bare brass 50 caliber round cut into a rudimentary bottle opener as a gift. He later thought it would look better if painted black and put the Seal Team 3 shield on it. 


When fellow Seals at a team gathering saw him use it they each wanted one, then asked where to get one, and then started naming friends and family they’d buy one for. Realizing the business potential, Eli sold his beloved motorcycle and with his wife Jen started Bottle Breacher in their one-car garage.


In answer to a very common question Eli explains that it’s called Bottle Breacher because there is a person on a Seal team with special training called a “breacher” whose specific task it is to breach obstacles, like blowing open doors, or in this case breaching bottle tops.


The business which started small has literally exploded. Eli and Jen caught the attention of the star investors on the hit TV show The Shark Tank and after making their pitch won the support of two Sharks. Their appearance created a skyrocketing demand for their suddenly very popular products.


In the three months following the show, orders grew from $500,000 to $2.5 million, creating a backlog that initially overwhelmed their production capacity. With help and a larger facility, they soon scaled up production from 175 units a day to over 1000 a day and grew their staff from eight to thirty-two employees.


Today buyers can customize their Breacher, choosing from a variety of colors while dictating any logo, design or phrase they wish laser engraved on it. The Bottle Breacher now comes in a variety of new sizes: the 7.62 mm rifle round, the 30 mm anti-tank round and the 20 mm helicopter cannon round. There’s even a 50 caliber Wine Breacher for pulling corks. All are powder coated for durability, made from dummy rounds for safety, and manufactured in Tucson.


As the business has grown, the two have remembered their roots and love to hire veterans and as they put it “reinvest in those who have served.”


2016 Arizona Small Business Development Center, Excellence and Innovation Award

Northland Pioneer College Small Business Development Center, Show Low

Under the leadership of center director Tracy Mancuso, the Northland Pioneer College Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is a small center that serves an economically challenging region of Arizona. Through innovation and creativity it helps small businesses throughout Apache and Navajo Counties, offering support and guidance in all aspects of business development. The area the Center serves is 21,177 square miles, or twice the size of Massachusetts.

In 2015 the Center served sixty-nine long-term counseling clients, helped twenty-six new businesses start, and assisted clients in raising nearly $5 million in capital while helping increase sales by $4.3 million. As a result of its efforts, the Center also helped create or retain eighty-nine jobs.

These metrics overwhelmingly exceeded annual goals and are characteristic of the ongoing pattern of excellence Tracy and her team exhibit year after year.

In the past five years alone, the Northland Pioneer College SBDC has helped create eighty-nine new businesses, create or retain 560 new jobs, secure over $24 million in new capital for clients and increase client sales revenues by $28 million.

Among the challenges the communities in the Center’s area face is the scarcity of quality childcare. Jobs are hard to keep without it, student enrollment at the college is hurt because of it, and area employers have trouble retaining employees who can’t find it. Tracy has led the local effort to address the challenge, and as part of the solution the Center now offers child development business training.

Due to the unique demographics of the region, many small business owners qualify for special certifications that can help them compete for federal contracts. As a result the Center invests heavily in education on the potential benefits of selling to the government and how to progress through the many steps required to compete for its business.

2016 Arizona Small Business Lenders of the Year

One of the SBA’s core missions is to help small businesses access the capital they need to start and grow. SBA works with lenders to create loan programs that include provisions specifically designed to benefit small business owners, such as interest rate caps, longer loan terms and no balloon payments. There are three primary types of SBA loans: the 7(a), the 504 and microloans.

In fiscal year 2015, SBA’s Arizona District Office supported a total of 1,361 loans totaling $646 million through the 7(a) and the 504 loan programs. SBA microlenders in the state made twenty-four loans totaling $712,000.

Arizona 7(a) Small Business Lender of the Year – Wells Fargo Bank

Wells Fargo Bank is the 2015 SBA 7(a) Lender of the Year. The bank approved 281 7(a) loans totaling more than $92 million and created the largest economic impact for small business owners in Arizona by providing the highest flow of capital to small ventures.

The 7(a) program is the most flexible of SBA’s loan programs, allowing borrowers to use loan proceeds for working capital as well as for the purchase of major assets.

Arizona 504 Lender of the Year – Business Development Finance Corporation

Business Development Finance Corporation is the 2015 SBA 504 Lender of the Year. The largest 504 lender in the state, it participated in forty-four 504 loans totaling over $30 million.

SBA’s 504 loan program is designed to finance long-term fixed assets including real estate and equipment for up to twenty years. Interest rates are typically fixed and the long life of the loan offers small businesses a regular and predictable level of payments.

Arizona Microlender of the Year – Prestamos Small Business Lending

Prestamos Small Business Lending is the 2015 SBA Microlender of the Year. It provided twenty microloans in 2015 totaling $694,000.

The SBA Microloan Program is designed to offer small-dollar loans, from $500 to $50,000. SBA lends funds to specially designated nonprofit community-based organizations that have both lending experience and programs that offer management and technical to borrowers. The average microloan is $13,000.


 For more information about all of the SBA’s programs for small businesses, visit the SBA’s extensive Web site at

Tags:  Arizona  entrepreneur  small business 

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Women Entrepreneurs Unite

Posted By Ashley Vizzerra, Arizona Small Business Association, Thursday, March 24, 2016

Friday, March 4, 2016

Contact: Ashley Vizzerra
Communications Coordinator
(602) 306-4000

Women Entrepreneurs Unite

Phoenix, AZ – WE Decide 2016 is a new movement focusing on women entrepreneurs and what is most important to them during this presidential election. WE Decide 2016 gives women in business the opportunity to voice their opinions and participate in polls, leading to a report that will be released at the conventions to encouraging the candidates to discuss those issues. Since 2007, the number of women entrepreneurs has increased by 27.5%, opening up a plethora of new topics that the presidential candidates need to take into consideration if they want to count on the women’s votes come November.

“Several hundred of our members are women business owners, so we have an up close look at what their needs are and how hard it is to get them heard,” states Arizona Small Business Association (ASBA) CEO, Rick Murray. “We do our best here at ASBA to bring a voice to these women when it comes to Capitol Hill, and we believe that the WE Decide 2016 movement will be a critical component in getting those voices heard by a larger audience.”

The goal of WE Decide 2016 is for women entrepreneurs from all over the United States to join the movement and participate in the polls and discussions on hot topics, creating enough buzz and energy to take concerns all the way to the top. ASBA is encouraging all women entrepreneurs to partake in the movement and have a voice at the Capitol. Through engaging in the movement, women can privately share their opinions on issues impacting their business, creating the support and action needed to be heard. WE Decide 2016 is the opportunity for women entrepreneurs to unite as one and generate the support needed to be successful business owners in today’s economy.

You can join this movement by going to or by visiting their Facebook or Twitter accounts at and @WEDecide2016.

About ASBA:

The mission of the Arizona Small Business Association is to be THE statewide resource for small business. Business owners join ASBA for the convenience and efficiency of our products and services, to engage and advocate for public policy that ignites small business growth, and to foster a positive economic direction for Arizona powered by entrepreneurism. By bringing thousands of small businesses together, ASBA has created greater value for all members and is proof positive that our mission of supporting small businesses through an active and connected community is working.


Tags:  entrepreneur  small business  women 

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Hawkins Wealth Advisory voted Best Investment Company Phoenix 2015

Posted By Robert E. Hawkins, Hawkins Wealth Advisory LLC, Thursday, December 3, 2015

Best Businesses Rewarding the Best in Business
Press Release

Hawkins Wealth Advisory Receives 2015 Best Businesses of Phoenix Award Phoenix Award Program Honors the Achievement

Phoenix, November 19, 2015 -- Hawkins Wealth Advisory has been selected for the 2015 Best Businesses of Phoenix Award in the Investing category by the Best Businesses of Phoenix Award Program.

Each year, the Best Businesses of Phoenix Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Phoenix area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2015 Best Businesses of Phoenix Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Best Businesses of Phoenix Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About the Best Businesses of Phoenix Award Program

The Best Businesses of Phoenix Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Phoenix area.  Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Best Businesses of Phoenix Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community's contributions to the U.S. economy.
SOURCE: Best Businesses of Phoenix Award Program

Best Businesses of Phoenix Award Program

Phoenix Award Program Honors the Achievement Phoenix, November 19, 2015 -- Hawkins Wealth Advisory has been selected for the 2015 Best Businesses of Phoenix Award in the Investing category by the Best Businesses of Phoenix Award Program.

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Tags:  awards  entrepreneur  finance  insurance  Performance Excellence  real estate  Showcase in Excellence Award 

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SBA Honers Arizona's Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses Champions

Posted By Gabriel Salcido, Arizona Small Business Association, Thursday, April 9, 2015

PRESS OFFICE – Arizona District Office
Contact: Stephen Hart 520-269-9497
Release Date: April 6, 2015
Internet Address:
Release Number: 040615
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook & Blogs

PHOENIX, AZ – In celebration of Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration is honoring Arizona entrepreneurs and small business champions for their contributions to the economy.  Over 97 percent of the businesses in the state are small businesses. Year-after-year small businesses are the greatest sources of innovation, jobs and revenue growth in Arizona’s dynamic economy.

“Each year the SBA has the honor of spotlighting Arizona winners of our Small Business Week awards in a ceremony that recognizes and celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit and community activism that has long characterized the small business community of our great state,” said Robert J. Blaney, the District Director of the SBA in Arizona.  “These men and women are the risk takers, the innovators and the employers that fuel our economy and daily serve our communities as local leaders.”

The awards will be presented during the Arizona Small Business Association’s (ASBA) annual AZ Small Biz Con 2015 which will be held on May 19 & 20, 2015 at the Renaissance Glendale Hotel & Spa.  The awards luncheon is on Tuesday, May 19.  Information is available from ASBA at 602-306-4000 or

National Small Business Week will be celebrated from May 4 to 8 with national events planned in Miami, Los Angeles, San Antonio, New York and Washington, D.C.


The 2015 SBA Small Business Week Arizona winners are:

2015 Arizona Small Business Person of the Year

Michael Melton – President and CEO of ClearCall Solutions LLC

“Too good to be true,” some might say. “Not possible,” might be how others react. “Fantastical, stellar, the stuff of legends,” biographers might write of the levels of success Arizona’s 2015 Small Business Person of the Year Michael Melton has achieved since starting ClearCall Solutions in 2010.


Certainly many will envy his results which include a 255 percent revenue growth in five years and the resulting addition of 280 employees. However, most will simply want to know how he did it… increasing revenues from $9.7 million to $32.8 million and growing his workforce to 400 employees. Those that know him use words like passion and faith to explain his success.

Michael’s is a story of a young man who at 19 leveraged his background in call center management to co-found a Dish Network dealership that eventually ranked as one of the top ten Dish retailers in the country. No small task when competing with 1000 other such retailers nationwide.

In 2007 Melton added an ADT Security dealership. His methods paid off when he was again classified top among his peers. For those who know him it was no surprise when he was ranked in the top four ADT dealerships nationwide from a pool of 650. Neither were they surprised when in 2013 he was named to the Arizona Republic’s top 35 Entrepreneurs under 35 list.

A serial entrepreneur, Michael struck again in 2014 launching a new marketing firm called American Cornerstone Insurance which joined his others under the ClearCall Solutions umbrella.

The business generates between 2500 and 2800 calls weekly. Michael’s operations are among the best at converting those calls into contracts and installations for Dish Network and ADT Security services. Over 80% of the sales leads developed from inbound calls result in installations. 

Selling is only part of what ClearCall Solutions does. Fulfillment and service being the others.  Once a sale is made, ClearCall Solutions contacts installation contractors and sets up the installation. Where similar companies in the industry typically specialize in just one line of business such as marketing, or call center operations, or the customer fulfillment end of the business, ClearCall Solutions does all three. That consolidated approached has rocketed ClearCall Solutions to stellar rankings among its peers.

2015 Arizona Small Business Exporter of the Year

Justin Smith – Vice President of International Sales, Bio Huma Netics (BHN)

The heavily traveled highway and rail corridor between Mexico and Arizona crosses the border at Nogales, just two hundred miles south of Gilbert, Arizona where the BHN headquarters are located. The route is little known outside the area, but diners from Chicago to New York daily enjoy the fresh produce it carries from Mexico and Latin American locales. A full thirty-five percent of the fresh produce imports entering the US share the corridor.

Bio Huma Netics plays a significant role in the growing of that produce, providing high-grade soil supplements that help assure quality and speedy growth. BNH’s products originate from a mine in the Northwestern US, are manufactured in Arizona and shipped to over twenty-five countries.

Justin has been with BHN since 2008 when he worked for the company in Sinaloa, Mexico. His career took off like the produce that benefits from BNH products. Within a year he was back in the States as Director of International Sales. By last year he was promoted to Vice President where his division drives half of the company’s total sales.

2015 Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year

Mark I. Field – Arizona Veterans Magazine

Maybe it was his service on US Navy submarines where crewman are largely out of touch with the day-to-day goings on in the rest of the world that led Mark to start a magazine. He knew the need for a means to help keep Vets apprised of news they need and might otherwise miss: assistance for homeless vets, suicide prevention, job assistance, healthcare, small business assistance and housing aid to name a few.

Titled “The Arizona Veterans Magazine”, Mark’s writings are enjoyed by over 250,000 veterans across Arizona. The magazine offers Mark an opportunity to combine his familiarity with publishing and his passion for helping fellow Veterans. An author of a very successful travel handbook Mark is comfortable communicating in print.

His efforts to help Veterans have won him praise from all sectors of the Veterans community as well as elected officials including governors, legislators, mayors, sheriffs, and tribal leaders.

2015 Woman-Owned Small Business Champion of the Year

Sharon Hamilton – President Sentinel Fence and Contracting

Sentinel Fence provides high security fence installations for federal, state, municipal governments and private prisons across the country. Since its founding in 2002, Sentinel Fence has expanded annually with sales reaching nearly $3 million in 2014.

On the face of it, Sharon, a teacher and school Principal in Mesa for nearly twenty years, might seem an unlikely candidate to become an entrepreneur. Not so, and she did it in the right way by keeping here full-time while helping with the business part-time. When the time was right, she joined full-time and has since taken full ownership of the company. A hands-on owner Sharon in often found on the job site assuring safe operations, or directing a unique installation, or just cleaning up as a job progresses.

Sharon pursued and received an SBA 8(a) certification for Sentinel, which has increased access to federal contracting opportunities significantly. The 8(a) business development program helps economically and socially disadvantaged small businesses compete better for federal jobs. By expanding Sentinel’s lines of business to include general contracting, Sharon has further opened her company to the vast opportunities in the federal contracting world.

Despite the full-time requirements of family and business, Sharon finds time to give back. She mentors other women business owners and hosts students from the Arizona State University intern programs who work with her side-by-side. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Associated Minority Contractors of Arizona where her experience continues to help others.


2015 Minority-Owned Small Business Champion of the Year

Lisa Odle – President, Odle Management Group

Some businesses start on a lark. Others grow from hobbies. Then there are those like Odle Management Group leaves a job and with experience, skills and ideas applies them in a business of their own.

Entrepreneurs adopt many business management styles, from the take it as it comes approach, to the go with your gut approach, to the more deliberate approach that relies on due diligence, the advice of experts, market research and sound financial planning. Lisa Odle of Odle Management Group is one of the latter. 

Years of experience managing Job Corps programs led her to open a business doing the same. Simply put, by the time she opened her own business, she knew the industry cold and with the assistance of SBA counselors was destined for success.

Lisa entered business in May 2004 and by June 2005 had her first large contract with the U.S. Department of Labor to help outplace Job Corps students. By June 2007 she’d won a $6.2 million contract to handle both student enrollment and outplacement services for a number of Job Corps Centers. In 2009 the company won contracts in Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, and Michigan. Business grew geometrically when two contracts won later in the year for training services in Louisville and Long Beach exceeded $90 million and her employee base grew to over 100.

As the business grew, Lisa became certified in the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program, opening access to previously unavailable federal contracts. In speaking of growing her business Lisa credits her success to the focus she has always placed on performance. She knows the importance of having a proven past performance record and a high effectiveness rating to federal contracting officers considering their next award.



2015 Arizona Financial Services Champion of the Year

Matthew Mapes – Vice President and SBA Commercial Banker at Arizona Business Bank

An SBA banker with 10 years of experience, Michael helps evaluate the capital needs of small business owners, the strength of their business and what type of SBA loan will best suit their needs. Whether a business is seeking to purchase equipment or real estate, or fund an acquisition, Michael assists in streamlining the process and shepherds the loan through the approval process.

SBA’s loan programs help provide capital for many uses, including the export of small business goods and services. These special loans require a solid grasp of the intricacies of international trade, bonding and collateral. International trade is among the core focuses of the SBA because of the growth in jobs and small business revenues it creates when US markets expand abroad.

This past year Michael was instrumental in providing international trade loans totaling $3 million.

2015 Arizona Small Business Development Center of Excellence

2015 Region IX Small Business Development Center of Excellence*

Under the leadership of regional center director Nancy Sanders, the Maricopa Community Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in 2014 counseled 500 business clients, helped 102 small business get started, created or retained 469 jobs, and helped businesses raise over $34 million in capital and increase sales by over $38 million.

The Maricopa SBDC is the largest in a statewide network of ten SBDCs and sixteen satellites where professional business counselors, analysts and technology specialists offer free one-on-one business counseling. The Maricopa center is especially well known for the relationships it has developed with organizations who share the primary goal of helping small businesses succeed. Its partnership with the Arizona Procurement Technical Assistance Collaboration (AZPTAC) is a prime example.

The PTAC program was created by a Department of Defense grant with the express purpose of helping small businesses better understand federal contracting processes and how to win contracts through the preparation of successful bids. By hosting the PTAC, the SBDC has leveraged the knowledge of its counselors while expanding the services available to its clients.

Another unique service it offers is counseling from two Certified Global Business Professionals on staff. A small business owner looking to expand into overseas markets and navigate the complexities of international trade has a one-stop-shop solution.

This approach of maximizing delivery of counseling services is further evident in how the SBDC works with two area business incubators. To better assist startups, the SBDC houses employees on site at both the City of Chandler Innovations Incubator and the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation in Phoenix.

* Region IX consists of Arizona, Nevada, California, Hawaii, Guam and the Federated States of Micronesia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, the Republic of Belau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. 

- - -

 For more information about all of the SBA’s programs for small businesses, visit the SBA’s extensive Web site at


Tags:  awards  entrepreneur  SBA  small businesses 

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