SBA Honors Entrepreneurs, Lenders during Small Business Week Closing Ceremony
SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands district office of the U.S. Small Business Administration on Friday presented the Small Business Person of the Year Award to Fernando Rodríguez, founder and president of Prime Janitorial Service Corp., during the closing ceremonies of Small Business Week.
Rodríguez entered the maintenance market when he was 18 years old and just starting college. In 1998, he founded his company in Mercedita, Ponce, with an investment of $50,000. With counseling and technical assistance from the Puerto Rico Small Business & Technology Development Center, Prime Janitorial Service has grown to employ over 500 people in Puerto Rico and generate more than $6 million in annual sales. Also, the company is currently opening a subsidiary in the Dominican Republic, creating more than 250 jobs.
“We are proud to honor Fernando Rodríguez as SBA’s Small Business Person of the Year in Puerto Rico,” said SBA District Director Yvette T. Collazo at the event co-hosted by the Puerto Rico Bankers Association in Isla Verde. “His success and that of his company are evidenced by the hundreds of individuals who are able to provide for their families thanks to the employment opportunities he has created. His contributions to the community and to Puerto Rico’s economic development are extraordinary.”
The SBA also honored the following small businesses and entrepreneurs:
Retail Service Provider of the Year
Lynn Marta Pérez dba Mom’s & Kid’s Hair Cut & Spa
Established in 2008 to provide full salon services to parents while their children get their hair cut. Located in San Juan, the business employs four people and generates close to $100,000 in sales.
Construction Service Provider of the Year
Edgardo J. Vega ED – Contractors Inc.
In 2007, Vega established his business dedicated to construction, project management and engineering services, among others. The company is located in San Juan, employs nine people and generates close to $1 million in annual sales.
Husband and Wife Business Team of the Year
José C. Flores & Myrna L. Beltrán – MB Clinical Laboratories Corp.
Established in 2003 in Juncos, the business has expanded to six additional locations, with its main establishment operating a unique robotic machine that distributes blood tests within the same patient tube. The business employs 45 people and generates over $2 million in annual sales.
Woman Entrepreneur of the Year
Marisol Santiago – Grafed Solutions Inc.
Established in 2010 in Villalba, Grafed specializes in providing treatments for chronic conditions such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, hepatitis C, and psoriasis, among others. The business employs eight people and generates over $1 million in annual sales.
Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Jan C. Cruz Guzmán – Intermezzo Caffé
Cruz established his business in 2013 at the age of 24. Located at the Music Conservatory in San Juan, Intermezzo Caffé serves a clientele of 2,200, including the conservatory’s faculty and students, as well as the school’s surrounding community. The business employs 19 people and generates close to $300,000 in annual sales.
Family-Owned Business of the Year
Best Seasoning Group Inc.
Established in 1990 in Juana Díaz by husband and wife team of Efraín Montero and Leticia Martínez, the company’s signature product is Sofritos Montero. Today, operated by the couple’s children, Best Seasoning Group offer over 50 products, employs 15 people and generates more than $1.3 million in annual sales.
The SBA also bestowed the following awards to participating lenders that during fiscal year 2015 provided over $80 million in financing under the agency’s 7(a) Loan Guaranty program: Gold Award to Banco Popular de Puerto Rico; Silver Award to Banco Santander Puerto Rico; and Bronze Award to Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico. FirstBank de Puerto Rico received the Star Award for highest growth, and Corporación para el Fomento Empresarial del Comercio y de las Comunidades (COFECC) received the Certified Development Company of the Year Award.
The District Director’s Special Award went to Eduardo Urbina, president of CDE Development Inc., for his support to small business entrepreneurship through use of SBA programs and services.