Success Stories

Small Business Owner Named 2009 Small Business Person of the Year

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... Read More

Scott Hedges and Mike Grady make a powerful team. As president and vice president of Power Sonix Inc., located in Martinsburg, this dynamic duo has designed and manufactured the most effective aircraft loud hailer systems available, gaining them a worldwide reputation.

It is this distinction that has led to Hedges and Grady being selected as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2010 Small Business Exporter of the Year for West Virginia.

Power Sonix originated in 1997 in the basement of Hedges’ home under the name Applied Electro-Mechanics Inc. Both men were previously employed at Applied Electro Mechanics Inc. in Point of Rocks, Md., Hedges as the plant manager and Grady as director of research and development.

“We tried to keep our new name similar to that of the original company so we could continue to do business with the foreign companies we were dealing with through our overseas agent at the time,” Hedges said. “We just added a hyphen to... Read More

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