The U.S. Small Business Administration announced this afternoon that Noah Leask, a service-disabled Navy veteran and chief of Mount Pleasant-based cyber-defense firm ISHPI, is the first runner-up 2013 National Small Business Person of the Year. The winner of the 2013 National Small Business Person of the Year award is John Stonecipher of Guidance Aviation in Prescott, Ariz. Second runner-up is Kari Warberg Block of Earth-Kind, Inc. in Bismarck, N.D. The national winners were announced during an SBA award ceremony in Washington, D.C., honoring top entrepreneurs representing the 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam.
Leask’s title marks the third time in five years that a South Carolina entrepreneur has received national SBA recognition. Rebecca Ufkes of Hanahan engineering and manufacturing firm UEC Electronics was also the first runner-up National Small Business Person of the Year in 2010, and in 2008, Deborah Moore of AccuStat EMR in Myrtle Beach tied for second runner-up National Small Business Person of the Year.
Leask's firm ISHPI provides information operations and cyber-security services to the U.S. intelligence, security and military communities. Leask and his wife Lisa, a fellow Navy veteran, started ISHPI out of their home in September 2006. Today, ISHPI has 109 employees and facilities in Virginia and San Antonio, in addition to its Mount Pleasant headquarters. Notable clients include the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, U.S. Central Command and the Joint IED Defeat Organization.
In April, the SBA named Leask the 2013 South Carolina Small Business Person of the Year. Previously, SBA had honored Leask as the 2009 Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year for both South Carolina and the southeast for his mentorship of fellow veterans pursuing entrepreneurship. Leask continues to support veteran entrepreneurs through the ISHPI Warrior Program. ISHPI’s additional community outreach efforts include programs in support of the disabled, Native American youth and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Leask was nominated for the Small Business Person of the Year award by Linda Blanton, a consultant with the Small Business Development Center in North Charleston.