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Success Stories

As a small business owner since 2001, Diane Lewis measures success in various ways. The president of Action Facilities Management, a site support company based in Morgantown, has grown her business from a 2-person operation to its current level of 170 full- and part-time employees in just 9 years. But it’s the advice and support she provides to other entrepreneurs that really makes her feel successful.

This is what has made Lewis the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2010 Minority Small Business Champion for West Virginia.

“Being named West Virginia’s 2010 Minority Small Business Champion is awesome, but it’s also a very humbling award,” Lewis said. “The real reward is watching other minority-owned companies develop and become successful. I love sharing my business experience and growing pains to make things easier for them.”

Lewis’ nearly 10-year career as an entrepreneur started when she was a contract administrator for a small business. She... Read More

Whether it is spearheading a meeting for a local women’s group, organizing an annual women’s conference, passing along business advice in a networking situation, or setting an example for her two young daughters, Kara Gray loves helping women entrepreneurs succeed.

For that reason, and for her contributions toward supporting entrepreneurship, business ownership and professional development for women in West Virginia, Gray has been named the 2010 Women in Business Champion of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s West Virginia District Office.

Gray is the owner of New Horizon Consulting, a freelance copywriting and public relations consulting practice she operates out of her home in Dallas, W.Va. She describes her chosen profession as a career field she “accidently” discovered while a student at Bethany College.

“I actually went to college with the intention of becoming a television news reporter,” Gray said. “I had no idea public... Read More

When L.J. Hughes came to West Virginia from Indiana, Pa. in 1942 to do an exploratory drilling project he probably never realized he was embarking on an entrepreneurial endeavor that would extend through four generations of the Hughes family.

L.J., who started his diamond core drilling business in the 1920s, discovered a great demand for his expertise in the state and decided to relocate his family to the Summersville, Nicholas County area. In 1946 he was joined in the business by his two sons, Robert and Charles, and his daughter and son-in-law Evelyn and Fletcher Herold joined in 1952.

As the company progressed, a third generation entered the business; Charles’ twin sons David M. (Mike) and John M. (Mick) Hughes in 1973, Fletcher Herold, Jr. in 1975 and Fletcher’s sister, Rebecca Adkins, in 1990. In 2006, a fourth generation came on board, nephew Jeffrey Lilly.

This year the company named for its founder, L.J. Hughes & Sons Inc., is being... Read More

Although young in terms of age, 27-year-old Jalon “Jay” Petre is anything but when it comes to small business experience.

As president of Renick Millworks, LLC, an environmentally friendly company specializing in wood products that are 100 percent reclaimed, Petre has been involved in entrepreneurial endeavors since graduating from high school.

Petre’s experience and success as a business owner are the key reasons he is being honored as the Young Entrepreneur for 2010 by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s West Virginia District Office.

Petre happened upon his current profession by chance. Fresh out of high school, he was helping manage his dad’s machine and welding shop when work slowed. His dad said it was alright if Petre wanted to go out on his own and find something else.

“I received a contract with the railroad to take down several buildings in the Fort Spring area, which I probably got because of my age (18-years-old) and I... Read More

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