Arizonans Named SBA Small Business Persons of the Year

The SBA’s Small Business persons of the year are Arizona mead producers Jennifer and Jeff Herbert. The first runners-up are Brad and Angie Barber from Iowa, who have a coffee cafe franchisor business. The winners were named today during the 2019 National Small Business Week ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The Herberts’ Superstition Meadery, based in Prescott, Arizona, has been producing unique meads and cider since 2012. Jeff Herbert received his inspiration to create new flavors of mead, an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey, from taking a brewery course at Chicago’s Seibel Institute. Jeff and Jennifer founded Superstition Meadery in 2012, producing 300 gallons of mead and cider in a 20 square-foot space that first year. Mead, a beverage that has been enjoyed across cultures around the world going back 4,000 years, is, at Superstition Meadery, a product of honey, fruit, herbs, spices and barrel aging.

Said Acting SBA Administrator Chris Pilkerton about the Herberts’ winning company, “Thanks to SBA financial and counseling assistance, this outstanding firm successfully grew their business, increasing their revenue by more than 160 percent between 2015 and 2017, expanded their staff from 9 to 20 employees and extended their reach into international markets. ...I am pleased to see how the SBA assisted Jennifer and Jeff to expand on their idea and grow their business in a unique market.”

Runners-up Brad and Angie Barber opened a restaurant in Clear Lake, Iowa, in 2002 where people could meet, drink a cup of coffee, and enjoy a bagel. In 2003 Brad and Angie contacted the SBA’s Small Business Development Center program for guidance on franchising. After receiving an SBA 7(a) loan, the couple open their second location in Mason City in 2009. A 504 loan in 2017 covered construction costs for the company’s new distribution and franchise support center in Clear Lake.

The company has steadily grown from no employees in 2002 to a company with a staff of 140 and sales of $5.5 million in 2017. There are 15 Cabin Coffee franchises throughout the United States, with more to come.

Second runner-up Roberto “Bert” Ortiz is the founder, co-owner, president and CEO of AVMAC LLC in Chesapeake, Virginia. He is a senior aviation management professional with over 40 years of active duty military and business experience. His passion is integrating logistics, managing aviation requirements and assessing new technologies for future employment. Since AVMAC’s modest beginnings in 2009, Bert has grown it into a multi-million dollar business with revenues exceeding $34 million in 2018. The company provides veteran aviation technical support and management consulting services to government and private industry, focusing on delivering quality products and services at the best value for its customers. AVMAC is an SBA certified 8(a) Business Development Program participant and has received an SBA Patriots Express Line of credit and a 20-year SBA 504 debenture loan. Ortiz has received assistance from SCORE, SBDC and the Veteran Business Outreach Center in Hampton Roads.

Image courtesy of SBA

Don Sniegowski