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SBA Announces Iowa's 2017 Small Business Week Award Winners

Release Date: 
Monday, March 27, 2017
Dave Lentell (515) 284-4522

(DES MOINES, Iowa) – In recognition of the small business community’s contributions to the American economy and society, the President of the United States designates one week each year as National Small Business Week. Scheduled for the week of April 30th of this year, Small Business Week 2017 will honor the more than 26 million small businesses in America. Since its establishment in 1963, the highlight of this annual tradition is the presentation of awards which focus on the outstanding contributions of small business persons and champions at the district, state and national levels. The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced the following winners of its 2017 Iowa Small Business Week Awards.


Iowa Small Business Person of the Year

Ben Puck -  Puck Custom Enterprises – Manning, IA

Raised on a family farm in rural Iowa, Ben Puck intended to continue the family tradition of farming. In 1979, with the Farm Crisis looming, Puck sought out ways of bringing in some additional revenue. Along with his brother, he began pumping and hauling liquid manure for area farmers. Four years later, he began running the business solo. In 1998 Ben Puck Pumping had continued to grow and Puck incorporated the business as Puck Custom Enterprises. As Puck added additional manure services to his business, he realized there was room for improvement with regards to the equipment he was using and in 2005. PCE built its own hose cart for drag hose manure application. That piece of equipment received a U.S. Patent in 2009 (Puck has received four other equipment patents over the years for his inventions to improve manure application).

PCE’s drag hose service grew steadily over the years and in 2010, the company tapped the SBA’s 504 Fixed Asset Financing program to help finance a new building for equipment manufacturing and sales. Since then, PCE has used the SBA 504 program three additional times to help expand its facilities and purchase additional equipment. Today, PCE’s primary focus is designing, building and selling equipment for manure management. PCE employs over 50 full time employees and 10 part time employees in the town of Manning, population 1,480.

Puck and his company’s contributions to the community of Manning are significant. The growth of his business has fueled the type of employee growth that’s vital to rural communities like Manning. Aside from the economic impact he’s made, Puck supports local churches, schools, businesses, charities and other community organizations. Whether it’s through monetary contributions or contributions of time - such as taking a leadership role in the IKM-Manning School’s STEM program – Puck, his family and PCE have been invaluable to Manning’s efforts to remain a thriving rural community.

Puck will go on to represent Iowa during National Small Business Week ceremonies held in Washington DC during the week of April 30th where he will compete for the National Small Business Person of the Year Award. Puck was nominated for this award by Gaylin Ranniger, President – First National Bank of Manning.





Iowa Small Business Week Award Winners

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March 27, 2017


Iowa SBA Women in Business Champion of the Year

Michelle DeClerck, President – Conference Event Management – West Des Moines, IA

Michelle DeClerck founded Conference Event Management 13 years ago and has since built her business into a successful event management company providing event services of all kinds in Iowa and throughout the world. In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, DeClerck has been a dedicated advocate for other woman-owned businesses throughout the state. She is active in several organizations that support women business owners and provide mentoring to young women. She sits on the Central Iowa executive committee for Iowa Women Lead Change (IWLC) and was involved in the first year’s student mentorship program. DeClerck serves as secretary for the Iowa Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and for the last six years has even provided pro bono event planning and registration services for the annual NAWBO Summit educational conference. In 2011 she was named the Iowa NAWBO Business Owner of the Year.

DeClerck has been involved with the Million Women Mentor program and serves on its Iowa Executive Council.  In support of this, DeClerck founded Mentor Tank in 2014 to further encourage and provide mentoring opportunities to young women in Central Iowa about to enter the professional field. She has also brought together a woman-business owner’s panel to help educate college business fraternities and continues to provide guidance and mentoring to young women seeking to jumpstart their own careers.


Iowa SBA Minority Business Champion of the Year

Deidre DeJear, President – Caleo Enterprises – Des Moines, IA

Deidre DeJear has always been involved in community development in Iowa, even before she started her own small business. Her business, Caleo Enterprises specializes in marketing strategies for small businesses. Caleo also offers project development and implementation services for non-profit organizations and businesses, particularly those seeking access to hard to reach populations. In 2012 DeJear took on the United Way of Central Iowa’s Financial Capability project. Over the last 4 years she has developed and implemented its Financial Capability Network, a collaborative designed to give low-income individuals and families access to mainstream financial systems and projects and to increase their financial management and skills. Over 20,000 people annually are impacted by this program.

Additionally, DeJear developed several programs to support financial and business education for low-income to moderate-income individuals in Central Iowa, including the Financial Fitness Bootcamp, Masters Business Bootcamp, and a Non-Profit Bootcamp. More than 1,300 people have gone through one of these programs. In 2015, DeJear created a show airing on Mediacom Cable called the Financial Fix. The show targets moderate income individuals and topics range from small business development to personal credit repair. Ove r the last year, DeJear has been working on One Economy, a project dedicated to strengthening the financial capability of African American’s in Iowa.   DeJear was nominated for this award by Renee Hardman, President of Hardman Consulting in West Des Moines and by Elisabeth Buck, Chief Community Impact Officer of the United Way of Central Iowa in Des Moines.





Iowa Small Business Week Award Winners

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March 27, 2017



Iowa SBA Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year

Veterans in Agriculture Board

Veterans In Agriculture (VIA), is a Non-Profit, Iowa organization comprised of individuals members from throughout Iowa who have an interest and a passion for agriculture and helping veterans transition into agricultural production and ag-related jobs. Since its establishment in 2012, The VIA board has worked to fulfill its mission of “Empowering Veterans to Thrive in Agriculture” by providing opportunities for veterans in Iowa to become part of Iowa’s Ag industry, including ag-related small businesses.


VIA works to connect veterans with resources and networks of information, programs and organizations to help transition to agricultural careers. It identifies available collaborations and resources between agribusiness, farming, education and military communities and promotes opportunities for all veterans in all sectors for Iowa’s agricultural economy. In addition, VIA holds an annual Veterans in Agriculture Conference to provide networking, educational, and professional opportunities for veterans interested in the Ag industry. The Veterans in Agriculture Board was nominated by Lyle Stewart, Chair of the VIA board.


# # #



  • Ben Puck – (712) 653-3045


  • Michelle DeClerck – (515) 254-0289 ext. 9


  • Deidre DeJear – (515) 428-0886


  • Veterans in Agriculture Board (Lyle Stewart) – (515) 240-0692
Attachments Size
Ben_Puck 926Kb
Deidre_DeJear 303Kb
Michelle_DeClerck 375Kb