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2018 Entrepreneurs of the Year

Jackie Parker, Upstate Drug Testing

Certified Contractor of the Year–
Jackie Parker, Upstate Drug Testing [Mohawk Valley]

If there ever was a person who typifies “Slow and steady wins the race” – it’s Jackie Parker. She started the business in May 2011 and tapped into the Procurement Assistance Center in September 2011. She has utilized the SBDC as her “go-to resource” ever since! We have watched her grow steadily through the years, and she is enjoying tremendous success. She notified us in November 2017 that SUNY Upstate Medical University awarded her pre-employment drug testing contracts – her largest contract to date. Jackie is always adding new clients to her client base. We have watched her deal with challenges that have arisen with grace, dignity and professionalism including a long wait for NYS WBE certification and an issue with a prime contractor. One of the key ingredients to Jackie’s success is her passion for small businesses and desire to assist them in creating drug-free environments. She is a strategic planner, always thinking ahead to be on the cutting edge of services in her field. [Advisor: Roxanne Mutchler]

Mike Schreppel, Yorkville Battery

Growth Company of the Year
Mike Schreppel, Yorkville Battery [Mohawk Valley]

Mike Schreppel is a winner because of his dedication to customer service excellence; his creativity and resilience in finding opportunities in the midst of challenges; and his attitude toward sharing his knowledge and experience. Yorkville Battery has grown from a garage-based business to a two-retail location with gross sales of nearly $3 million annually. Mike and his father-in-law John Kratzert, a WW2 Air Force veteran, started Yorkville Battery while Mike was attending SUNY, and Mike worked with the SBDC to provide business students with opportunities for real-world experience in the company. Mike and his family have built a successful and resilient business in a market that has experienced tremendous competition from big box stores and the Internet. Mike’s creativity and strategic thinking have taken the company through and around multiple challenges over the years, and his approach to personalized, high-quality customer service has won him loyal business both locally and around the world. [Advisor: Judy Wolf]

Doreen Cugno and Luanne Sorrentino, St. George Theatre

Community Revitalization Business of the Year –
Doreen Cugno and Luanne Sorrentino, St. George Theatre [Staten Island]

The St. George Theatre is a 1,900-seat performing arts center that hosts an array of live entertainment from Tony Bennett to Disney Live! The theatre is host to many local events and graduations, even the Miss New York Pageant. It provides the ideal forum for community outreach programs, educational programs and public performances.  The long-awaited installation of the new high-tech LED marquee signage began in March 2018, officially ushering the historic venue into the modern age. The new addition is part of a $5.2 million renovation project that began in summer 2017, when the theatre closed for a makeover featuring a new mezzanine, carpeting reminiscent of the original 1929 design, and the new marquee. Doreen and her family have won many prestigious awards for saving the theater. In January 2011, Doreen, along with her sister Luanne Sorrentino, received the Mayor’s Arts and Culture Award, hosted at New York City Center in February 2013. 

Nicholas Auletta, Truview BSI

Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year –
Nicholas Auletta, Truview BSI [Farmingdale]

TruView is a certified, service-disabled, veteran-owned business. The company’s intelligence-based background screening and investigative services span nationwide and internationally. The staff use the latest techniques and most efficient research tools to uncover more information for their clients. After earning his B.S. from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and receiving the Superintendent’s Award for graduating in the top twenty percent of his class, Nicholas Auletta spent three tours and 44 months of deployed time to the Iraq combat zone. When he returned home, he recognized a need for expansion to the already existing family security business, Summit Security Inc. and formed Truview BSI, LLC in 2017. Through his leadership and vision, the company provides background investigatory security services utilizing Veterans currently serving national as well as international companies. According to Auletta, “Hiring veterans is not a charitable thing to do; it is a smart thing to do. Their leadership and service experience in challenging environments adds to their professional qualifications and helps make us a great company in a dynamic industry.” [Advisor: David Chiaro]

Luis Ducasse, Loyalty Daycare Center

Family Owned Business of the Year
Luis Ducasse, Loyalty Daycare Center [Columbia Harlem]

The success of Loyalty Daycare Center in the Bronx coupled with the knowledge Luis acquired by participating in the Columbia Community Business Program (CCBP), has led him to open a second daycare location. The two businesses serve more than 200 families and provide employment to 32 people. In addition, they engage college interns majoring in early childhood education and retired teachers who want to stay engaged in their communities. When Luis decided to open the second location, Fidelity Daycare, he was not sure about the outcome, but he was sure that with his experience advising business owners, and with this wife’s daycare management experience, they could meet a need in the Bronx that would translate into financial independence. Luis is not a regular entrepreneur, but he has a lot of heart and is committed to his community. His focus is to provide opportunity in the neighborhood and to empower younger generations. [Advisor: Glamis Haro]

Leonardo Molina, Bed Stuy Guacuco

Impact Business of the Year –
Leonardo Molina, Bed Stuy Guacuco [Pace]

Leonardo Molina has been a client of the Pace University SBDC since 2009, when he was working to launch his first restaurant, Arepera Guacuco in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. The Village Voice named the restaurant it’s Best Venezuelan Restaurant in New York City in 2012. With nearly twenty years of industry experience, the resources available from operating two successful restaurants, and extensive knowledge of northeast Brooklyn, Mr. Molina decided to move into the rapidly expanding Bedford Stuyvesant area for his third restaurant – Guacuco – in 2017. He has been instrumental in the burgeoning restaurant scene in the Bushwick and Bed-Stuy neighborhoods of Brooklyn. The Pace University SBDC is proud to have worked with Mr. Molina as his three business ventures have continued to grow. [Advisor: Rawle Brown]

 Kim Condon, Toonie Moonie Organics

Innovator of the Year –
Kim Condon, Toonie Moonie Organics [Binghamton]

Toonie Moonie Organics began in a converted garage turned certified organic commercial kitchen. The first product line, launched at the largest organic trade show in the country, was one of Kim Condon’s favorite nostalgic treats. Toonie Moonie Organic Marshmallow Crème is still made in small batches by skilled artisans. Business owner Kim Condon has overcome many obstacles in getting her organic marshmallow crème to market. She had to move her manufacturing location from Oneonta to Fly Creek. She had to go through the certification process a second time to be certified as USDA organic and kosher. She developed the organic formula a few years ago and then had to learn how to operate a manufacturing facility. Her determination to get her product to market has been unstoppable, despite the many obstacles she has encountered. [Advisor: Michelle Catan]

Ewerton Borges, Spectra Polymers & Color

Made in New York –
Ewerton Borges, Spectra Polymers & Color [Farmingdale]

Twenty years ago, Ewerton Borges was hired to sweep the floor at a Farmingdale business. Over the years he worked his way up to the position of plant manager at the business, and then managed plants in several states. He bought Spectra in 2017 with $60,000 of his own money and $500,000 in financing from the previous owner, Alicia Kolis, who is now the new company’s director of operations. The original purchase money, which bought Borges the company’s customer base and assets, including a library of 35,000 color variations, has allowed him to stabilize the business and bring back some inactive customers, he said. The company has about 85 customers, he said. He also has been able to reestablish accounts in Poland and Mexico. And he is working with a technology company that provides chips to casino companies with additives that help prevent counterfeit versions. The previous Spectra largely focused on color plastics for cosmetics display, he said. Now he wants to further automate the production equipment to make it more efficient. Since he purchased Spectra, he has stabilized the client base and brought back inactive customers, including some international customers.
[Advisor: Jason Kohl]