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Region 7 U.S. Small Business Administration Names 2012 Champion Award Winners--One Regional Award Winner Wins National SBA Champion Title

Release Date: 
Monday, April 2, 2012
Release Number: 
03-03 (W-16-12)
Advisory Date: 
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Advisory Number: 
June Teasley, Communications Director, 816-426-4845

(Kansas City) –Patricia Brown-Dixon, the regional administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration headquartered in Kansas City, today announced the regional winners of the SBA’s Small Business Week awards in the SBA Region 7 territory of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa, and announced that one of those selected regionally has won top national honors.

Dr. Dick and Sharon Davis, owners of the Davis Companies in Omaha, Nebraska, have been judged the national recipient of the SBA Minority Small Business Champion of the Year award.

“All of our regional champions exemplify small businesses and supporters of an extremely high caliber, and we are pleased our national judges recognized the hands-on work and commitment made by Dr. and Mrs. Davis to revitalize North Omaha and its small business community,” said Brown-Dixon.
Regional SBA Champion Award winners compete for their national titles against nine other regional winners in their categories after being selected at the district SBA level.  National champion award winners are honored along with State SBA Small Business Persons of the Year from each state and U.S. territory, and other small business service honorees in Washington, D.C. May 20-22 at National Small Business Week.  All winners will be presented their state and regional SBA awards at upcoming awards ceremonies conducted by their district SBA offices.

SBA Champions are chosen for their long-term, effective and free assistance to small business owners.  The SBA also names regional award recipients for an entrepreneurial success - a business starting small but achieving great success; a young entrepreneur - for achievements by a small business owner under 30 years of age; and a Small Business Development Center for excellence in program goal achievement. SBA State Small Business Persons of the Year are judged on their staying power; increase in number of employees and increased sales; current and past financial performance; innovativeness and response to adversity. 

Recipients of the SBA Region 7 Champion awards for 2012 are:

And Region 7 SBA Minority Small Business Champion
(awarded for exemplary support of minorities engaged in a small business)

Sharon and Dr. Dick C. E. Davis, owners; The Davis Company, Omaha, NE;
Phone: (402) 399-9090; Website:

The Davis Companies is a successful group of companies offering insurance, risk services and consulting to small businesses. In 2006, its owners - Sharon and Dr. Dick C.E. Davis - began a planned five-year focus on volunteer community empowerment. Their vision is to help rebuild North Omaha, Nebraska, one of the most economically challenged communities in the nation.  The SBA helped the couple relocate their own company headquarters to the district revitalization; and there, they seized the opportunity to help minority entrepreneurs emerge through their volunteer efforts.

Region 7 SBA Financial Services Champion (for outstanding help in getting small businesses funding)

Sandra Washington, Senior Vice President, Group Manager & Small Business Sales Manager
Commerce Bank, Clayton, MO;  Phone: (314) 746-5265 Website:

Sandra Washington’s leadership in small business lending and her ability to build relationships with her customers has helped Commerce Bank achieve success as a top SBA multi-state lender in the St. Louis, Missouri area since 2003.  Washington began her career at USBank in St. Louis more than 33 years ago after graduating from Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the University of Pennsylvania and Maryville University, where she received a Business and Finance undergraduate degree.  She works closely with the Missouri Linked Deposit loan fund to help small businesses with more advanced financial needs and contributes a monthly advice column to the St. Louis Small Business Monthly’s called “Ask the Banker.”  Sandy is an active community member, serving as board president of the Kirkwood Children’s Chorale; vice chair of the Greentree Festival; past president of the Kirkwood Rotary Club; and on the board of directors for the St. Clare SSM Health Center, Kirkwood School District Foundation and Kirkwood-Webster Family YMCA.  She is a member of the Kirkwood Citizen’s Finance Committee.

Region 7 SBA Veteran Business Champion (awarded for outstanding services to veterans starting and expanding their small businesses.)

Maj. Karl Monger, retired, Executive Director, GallantFew, Inc., Wichita, KS
Phone: (316) 249-0218; Website:

Maj. Karl Monger founded GallantFew, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit organization, to assist our nation’s veterans in successfully transitioning from military service to civilian life.  His vision is to reduce veteran unemployment, homelessness, and suicide and to advocate for improved services for veterans.  GallantFew focuses on providing veteran support in four primary areas - social networking, professional development, emotional support and physical assistance – while also educating corporations and agencies on veteran-related employment issues.

Region 7 SBA Women in Business Champion

Marcia Conaghan, Program Manager, Grace Hill Women’s Business Center, St. Louis, MO
Phone: (314) 584-6841; Website:

Marcia Conaghan’s 20-year women-in-business advocacy history includes not only being an entrepreneur with a successful business of her own, but helping other women get into business.  Today, she works for Grace Hill Women’s Business Center, which focuses on women and minorities in underserved communities.  As a public/private partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Grace Hill Center is a leader in providing business development services to start-ups and existing businesses. Conaghan leads business plan preparation classes and counsels business owners throughout the St. Louis area, showing a deep commitment to helping small business owners improve their businesses and lives. In previous years, Conaghan ran her own business and received SBA assistance through counseling and lending; supported women business owners as a private consultant; and directed the Women Entrepreneur (WE) program at St. Louis Community College, where she developed and enhanced its curriculum.  She continues to share her knowledge with others as a very active member of St. Louis NAWBO (National Association of Women’s Business Owners.)

Region 7 SBA Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Business of the Year (awarded to a family-owned business which has achieved success financially and has positively impacted its community.)

Christy Ford Schlafly and William H. Ford, co-presidents, Ford Hotel Supply Company, St. Louis, MO 
Phone: (314) 231-8436; Website:

Three generations of the Ford family have provided solutions to the commercial foodservice industry for over 100 years.  William S. Ford, Sr. began by going door to door and would make deliveries before going home.  Adele Ford expanded the business by selling to hospitals and charities.  Their sons, William S. Ford, Jr. and John H. Ford, began selling to hotels and clubs.  Both completed engineering degrees and expanded the company’s services to include design and equipment.  Christy Ford Schlafly began as a purchasing clerk in 1978 after graduating from college. Her brother, William (Bill) H. Ford joined the business in 1981.  They now own and operate Ford Hotel Supply Company.

Region 7 SBA Small Business Exporter of the Year

Stephen J. Anderson, president, Merrill Manufacturing Co., Storm Lake, IA
Phone: (712) 732-4401; Website:

In a one-car garage, Stephen Anderson’s father, Noel, founded Merrill manufacturing in 1949.  The company today manufactures and sells the industry’s largest selection of frost proof yard hydrants, pitless water units, kits and adapters; well caps, tank tees and other water well accessories.  The company holds 21 patents, exports to 9 countries and continues working to establish sales in four others with the help of U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Services.  Stephen Anderson returned home after graduating from college to work from the company in 1975, becoming its president in 1981.  He has overseen the company during its expansion into foreign sales, which has increased its revenue significantly.

Region 7 SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Jeffrey Owen Hanson, owner, Jeffrey Owen Hanson, LLC, Overland Park, KS  66209-3642
Phone: (913) 681-6456; Website:

Jeffrey Owen Hanson technically got business underway at age 12, shortly after being diagnosed with neurofibromatosis and an optic nerve tumor in 2005.  Left with severe vision loss, he had no intent of starting an official business, but the following summer, Hanson created hand-painted, water-color note cards to raise money for neurofibromatosis research.  He sold them at the end of his driveway. People found his color combinations explosive and appealing and his art rapidly evolved to acrylic paint on canvasses.  In 2008, he set up a home studio, a website and hired an accountant.  Increasing demand for his product led him to seek the help of SBA’s Small Business Development Center at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, who helped him write a strategic business plan for the future.  Now 17, he has created and sold more than 800 original artwork pieces, with Whole Foods reproducing his art on recyclable shopping bags and the Make-A-Wish Foundation commissioning pieces from him. As a current Make-A-Wish International Ambassador, Jeff serves as an inspiration for others to use their talent to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others. In 2011 alone, Jeffrey Owen Hanson LLC generated private sales of $99,660.  Remarkably, his company had donated $262,743 to charities in the first three-quarters of 2011.  Jeff has been featured on CNN Headline News and was named a “Hero Among Us” in People Magazine. His artwork has been purchased by many celebrities, including Elton John, Susan Sarandon and Warren Buffet.

Region 7 Entrepreneurial Success of the Year

Bruce H. Williams, president, U. S. Tool Grinding, Inc., Desloge, MO 
Phone: (573) 431-3856;  Website:

Bruce Williams took a 20-employee family business and turned it into the largest tool regrinding company in the world. He accomplished this through a combination of automation with machinery he designed and built and effective management.  Williams modified, innovated, or invented nearly every manufacturing process used at US Tool today and redefined US Tool by moving the company into the integrated supply business. AutoGage, a machine he created to sort dull tools, propelled US Tool ahead of its competition and remains the “gold standard” of sorting tools in the industry.


Region 7 Small Business Development Center Award of Excellence

Johnson County Community College Regional Small Business Development Center
Malinda Bryan-Smith, director; Phone: (913) 406-6487

The Johnson County Community College Regional Small Business Development Center exceeded all counseling and training goals in the last federal fiscal year in the regional territory of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa.

Named as the SBA State Small Business Persons of the Year for 2012 are:

Vicki LaRose, president, Civil Design, Inc., St. Louis, MO, Phone: (314) 863-5570

Gordon and Mary Jenkins, owners, Cimarron Shurfine Foods, L.L.C. dba White’s Foodliner, Cimarron, KS 
Phone: (620) 855-3561; Website:

Timothy Greene, owner, Quality Machine of Iowa, Audubon, IA  50025, Phone: (712) 563-2598

Duane and Patricia Olrich, Industrial Systems & Supply, Inc., Columbus, NE
Phone: (402) 564-4445; Website: