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Buffalo Small Business Week Award Winners Announced by SBA

Release Number: 
Advisory Date: 
Monday, April 15, 2013
Advisory Number: 
Kelly LoTempio

SolEpoxy, Inc. selected as NYS Exporter of the Year; will compete for National award

BUFFALO, NY—Franklin J. Sciortino, the district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Buffalo district office announced today the names of 12 SBA Small Business Week award winners from the 14 westernmost counties of New York State.  Among the winners, one was selected for state honors and remains in the mix for a national title.

Jeffrey A. Belt, president of SolEpoxy Inc. of Olean, NY was selected as the district and NYS recipient of the SBA’s Exporter of the Year award. 

“SolEpoxy has not only won the Buffalo district and state award but now competes for national recognition,” said Franklin J. Sciortino.  “We are extremely proud to honor and spot light all of the Western New York Small Business Week award winners for their outstanding achievements and entrepreneurial spirit.”  As risk takers, innovators and employers, these winners reflect how small businesses contribute to both the state economy and their local communities.” 

SolEpoxy is a global manufacturer, high-tech specialist innovator of epoxy dielectric coating powders and molding compounds, plus a unique, optically clear epoxy molding compound provider.  SolEpoxy is one of just a half-dozen companies capable of manufacturing clear epoxy mold compounds and has over 200 active customers from a broad spectrum of industries and geographies. 

Today, the company is expanding their commitment to supply chain services and leases warehouses in Manila, Rotterdam and Chennai, India.  They are also seeking a warehouse near Tijuana Mexico and plan to add warehouses in Korea and Southeast Asia.  With seven market partners covering Asia, India and Europe, plus a customer  footprint that includes South and Central America, the Middle East and all of North America, SolEpoxy products are used all over the world.

Local winners will receive their awards during a small business recognition ceremony, which will be held in Buffalo on May 6.  They will also be recognized on May 8, 2013 at the SBA Small Business Week Awards Luncheon.  The luncheon will be held at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center from 12:30 p.m.-2:00 p.m. Tickets cost $45 per seat or $450 per table of 10.  Please contact Kelly LoTempio, Economic Development Specialist/Public Information Officer at (716) 551-4301 ext. 309 or by e-mail at Kelly.lotempio@sba.gov for reservations.  You may also register on-line at:   SBA Business Matchmaker, Awards Luncheon & Expo

The following is a list of the SBA’s 2013 Buffalo District Office Small Business Week award winners and their profiles:

SBA SMALL BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR                                                                                                

Sharon K. Brown, Brown Electric Inc., Pendleton, NY

Brown Electric Inc. is primarily a commercial and industrial electrical contractor.  In addition, the company provides residential and institutional electrical contracting services.  The company was established by Thomas and Sharon Brown in 1981 and in April 2003 when her husband, Thomas, passed away, Sharon immediately added her husband’s responsibilities to hers and was determined to continue to grow their business.

The company’s continued growth and increased employment resulted in the company outgrowing their location in Tonawanda and in 2001 Sharon took on the task of constructing an 8,500 square foot building on Campbell Boulevard in Pendleton.  Today, in business for over 30 years, the business continues to operate successfully and has added 4 new employees. 



Belinda D. Grant, Northwood’s Alpacas, Bergen, NY 

Northwood’s Alpacas is a home based family run farm located in Bergen, NY.  Belinda, with her husband Bob, and their seven children make their home in a historic 1827 farm house on a 12 acre parcel.  After hobby farming for a few years, they eventually decided that becoming profitable from these endeavors was an important lead to the start of a new business.  Belinda and Bob did some research, and in 2004 they purchased their first alpacas. 

Alpacas are raised for their luxurious fiber.  Being as soft as cashmere, and three times warmer than wool, there fiber is known as ‘the fiber of the gods’.  After raising and breeding for about a year and learning all they could about alpacas, the started to sell the livestock.  Finding ways to process the fiber became a quest.  Starting with yearn and roving for hand spinners was the easiest way to process and sell a final product.

 Northwood’s Alpacas now has 12 locations, two online shops and with help from a counselor at College at Brockport SBDC satellite office in the Genesee County Economic Development MedTech Center, they built their own farm store.



Tyler Muto, K-9 Connection Behavior Services, LLC, Buffalo, NY

In business since 2007, this premier dog training services offers private lessons, group training classes and a “boot camp” program which clients drop off their pets for a day to be trained by a professional.  K-9 Connection’s most popular training program provides clients with guaranteed training for the life of the dog, a service unique to K-9. 

A new location and expansion of programs has allowed K-9 to go from three to seven full-time employees. 

“My methods are simple, logical, and the work,” says Tyler.  “Once the relationship (between owner and dog) is balanced and the communication is effective, the dog will become naturally obedient.  Once you have achieved this state with your dog, the rest will come with far greater ease.”



Evangeline Conley, VA Western New York Healthcare System, Buffalo, NY

In her role as public affairs officer, Evangeline Conley coordinates an outreach program throughout Buffalo, Batavia and seven community-based clinics located in Dunkirk, Jamestown, Lackawanna, Lockport, Niagara Falls, Olean and Springville.  During fiscal year 2012, the VA WNY Healthcare System held its first “Hire a Hero” job fair, where veteran-owned small businesses were encouraged to bid on federal contracts.  Over 300 veterans in attendance.

Ms. Conley assists veterans through internal and external communication of special events, through her lead as the VA WNY Healthcare System’s Outreach Team, member of the VA Healthcare Network Upstate New York (VISN 2) Public Affairs/Outreach Council, local EEO committee, local leadership committee, minority-veterans committee, and consultant for system-wide committees promoting various programs.



Sawrie Becker, Erie County Office of Public Advocacy, Buffalo, NY

Sawrie Becker is the Commissioner of Public Advocacy for Erie County and in that role as the Executive Director of the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women (ECCSW).  Sawrie provides advocacy services to assure fair and equal treatment of all county residents without regard to race, sex, religion, age, disability and national origin. 

As the executive director of the ECCSW, Sawrie leads a twelve member board in accomplishing their mission of providing appropriate and meaningful information to women and girls in Erie County so they may reach full potential.



Marion C. Simmons Jr., Bubbles Q Sauce Inc., Buffalo, NY

Manufactured and made in Western New York, Bubbles Q Sauce is a wholesale supplier of barbeque sauce.  Sold in four of the largest chain supermarkets (Tops, Wegmans, Budweys and Dashs) in WNY the Simmons continue to expand with their product now being sold in over 90 different stores.

The Simmons mission is simple; broaden exposure in WNY, tap into the global market and increase utilization of social media.  During this low peak season, they do onsite appearances and demonstrations letting the customers know that “Bubble’s Q Sauce Isn’t Just for Summer Grilling it’s also good for Summer Chilling!”

With difficult times for small business, the Simmon’s family continues to work hard to keep their business’ going. 



John Savino, First Niagara Bank, Rochester, NY

John Savino is a seasoned business banker with First Niagara Bank with over 28 years of banking and small business experience.  As a Vice President for Business Lending at First Niagara Bank and business owner, John has witnessed first-hand the challenges faced by small business owners.  John also owns a small business called “Johnny’s Irish Pub” in Rochester since 1997. 

During his tenure, John was able to broaden his skill sets in order to better serve the small business community of greater Rochester.  An important part of that skill set was learning the specific needs of small business, and knowing the appropriate resources to assist a new and growing business in planning their enterprise.  John engages with the Small Business Development Center in providing education and “know-how” to prepare a business plan that addresses pertinent topics a business owner needs to understand. 

John was selected for this award as an individual who assists small businesses through advocacy efforts to increase the usefulness and availability of accounting or financial services for small businesses.


Orlando R. Perez, Skyview Learning Group, Buffalo, NY

President, Orlando R. Perez and his company, Skyview Learning Group serves individual who are unemployed or underemployed and trains them to re-enter the workforce with both computer and general office skills, along with the soft skills necessary for success in a business environment. 

He works primarily with disadvantaged persons in the community, many of whom are minorities.  He also serves as an important link in the community helping aspiring minority entrepreneurs to access small business development services and workshops.


Shashi Gholkar, Gholkar’s Inc., Victor, NY

Gholkar’s Inc, a formerly certified 8(a) business participant and graduated from the SBA 8(a) program is being awarded as the 8(a) Graduate of the Year. 

Located in Victor, NY, the company distributes computer products and office supplies.  Dominated by larger corporations, the company continues to grow with minded persistence and hard work.

Gholkar’s  was the MBE supplier of the year in 2010 from the State of New York Office of the State Comptroller and was also listed one of Rochester’s Top 100 which annually recognized the fastest-growing privately held companies in the nine-county region.

2013 District Director’s Small Business Week Special Recognition Award

Dan Caufield, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library

Dan Caufield is the Outreach Coordinator for the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.  A long-time advocate for SBA’s programs and services in the Buffalo community, he has also shown consistent support for SBA’s resource partners, SCORE Buffalo Niagara, Buffalo State College Small Business Development Center and the Canisius College Women’s Business Center, and is an active member of SBA’s Straight Talk committee.  His eager support, advice and opinions regarding the effectiveness of and need for SBA programs and services, particularly the Buffalo district throughout the years have become a foundation from which we have generated many SBA Buffalo successes.  This year, he will be given the 2013 District Director’s Small Business Week Special Recognition Award for his years of service and dedication to area small businesses, SBA partners and his ongoing support of Buffalo SBA.


2013 District Director’s Small Business Week Special Award for Distinction & Achievement.

Frank Uhlman, 2012 SCORE Buffalo Niagara Chairman, SCORE Buffalo Niagara Chapter 45

Frank Uhlman, former SCORE Chair and Certified SCORE mentor is being honored this year for the District Director’s Small Business Week Special Award for Distinction and Achievement.  Frank Uhlman was chosen to receive this award from the SBA thanks to his leadership of the Chapter, strong relationships built in our local small business community, the programs assisted with the district, and his efforts to expand the reach of the chapter to new entrepreneurs and small business owners. 



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