Joe Lillard relocated to the Berkeley Springs area 35 years ago from the Washington D.C. metro area to try his hand at farming. But it was farming that eventually directed him to homeopathic medicine and entrepreneurship. That journey from country farmer to small business owner resulted in Lillard, president of Washington Homeopathic Products, being named the West Virginia 2009 Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Lillard attended the 46th annual National Small Business Week Celebration in Washington D.C. and was presented with his award by SBA's Administrator, Karen Mills, as was entrepreneurs from each state of the union. Lillard was also recognized as Small Business Person of the Year at the 2009 West Virginia Business Awards Celebration on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 at the Tamarack Conference Center in Beckley.
As a farmer, Lillard soon discovered the cost of veterinary care generally outweighed dollar value of his livestock. In order to curb costs, he began looking into homeopathic medicine. A neighbor, who happened to be a veterinarian, had a goat with an abscess that wouldn’t heal. After trying conventional medicine, which didn’t seem to be helping, they concocted a homeopathic remedy which worked. It was at this point Lillard became a homeopathic believer.
For the next two decades, Lillard made the daily commute to Bethesda, Md., to work at a homeopathic pharmacy and study the benefits of homeopathic medicine. When an opportunity to purchase the business, then called Washington Homeopathic Pharmacy, arose in 1991, Lillard jumped at the chance.
After years of commuting, Lillard decided to move the business a little closer to home and opened his Washington Homeopathic Products storefront in historic downtown Berkeley Springs. In 2004, he moved the entire operation to West Virginia.
Since purchasing the company, Lillard has transformed it from a five employee business with an annual income of $150,000 into a multi-million dollar operation with over 25 employees.
Homeopathic medicine is a form of alternative medicine that works on the principle of stimulating the body’s natural defenses to fight off illness and disease. It is not only for use in the veterinary field, but used by people throughout the world.
Washington Homeopathic Products has over 65,000 customers in more than 20 countries. Their clients include pharmacies, retail stores, practitioners, midwives, veterinarians, distributors and the general public. The business continues to grow as a result of web-based sales, superior quality product, and an excellent reputation for customer service.
Lillard has also utilized the services of the West Virginia Small Business Development Center to enhance WHP's workforce, more specifically their training grant program. The program provided funding to train key staff on crucial programs inherent to the homeopathic industry.
West Virginia SBA Director Judy McCauley said the company epitomizes the criteria for the Small Business Person award and is an excellent representative for small business success in West Virginia.
Lillard was nominated by Misty Householder, marketing director for Washington Homeopathic Products.