May 1, 2017

SBA: Hawaii Entrepreneurs Honored as 2017 National Small Business Persons of the Year

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of National Small Business Week, Linda McMahon, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, today recognized this year’s Small Business Person(s) of the Year and other national award winners at a ceremony and reception at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.

“It is my extreme pleasure to announce that husband-and-wife business partners Garrett and Melanie Marrero of Maui Brewing Company are this year’s national Small Business Persons of the Year,” McMahon said. “Their innovative spirit, with assistance from the SBA and its lending and partners, created a thriving business and hundreds of jobs for their community.”

Maui Brewing Company, headquartered in Kihei, Hawaii, started in 2005 as a small seven-barrel brewpub with the help of SBA financing. Today, it is the largest craft beer producer in Hawaii.

“Garrett and Melanie have shown impressive growth, expanding in size, sales and scope of their business,” McMahon said. “By 2007, increasing demand led them to open a second location in Lahaina with a 25-barrel capacity, giving them the ability to provide brewery tours and making it a tourist destination as well. By 2013, they were producing more than 19,000 barrels of beer a year, boosting revenues to more than $10 million. They have since expanded with a new 18,000 square-foot restaurant that opened in Oahu last year, and new brewpubs and eateries are scheduled to open later this year.  By the end of 2018, Maui Brewing Company will employ a workforce of 700.”

McMahon also recognized National Small Business Person of the Year runners-up from Kentucky, California and Virginia, as well as winners from each of America’s states and territories.

“All of our winners have built very successful businesses through their hard work, innovative ideas and dedication to their employees and communities,” McMahon said.

First Runner-up

Debra Dudley
President and Cofounder
Oscarware, Inc.
Bonnieville, Ky

Oscarware, Inc., a family-owned manufacturing business, was founded in 1989 by Debra and Reg Dudley. They pioneered the concept of manufacturing outdoor cooking with a disposable “Grill Topper” designed to provide campers a quick, easy and inexpensive way to cook in parks and campgrounds. Since that first product, Oscarware has expanded to 17 outdoor cooking gadgets, all manufactured in Kentucky. Oscarware has grown to 32 employees and distributes products across the United States. It now exports its products to Canada and Europe, with assistance from the SBA STEP exporting program.

When Reg Dudley passed away unexpectedly in 2006, Debra took over at the helm of the company. She reached out to the Western Kentucky University Small Business Development Center, and since then has received extensive counseling and assistance with marketing, product development and financial forecasting of the business. The SBDC also helped Debra develop a strong business plan that enabled the company to obtain several commercial bank loans. This influx of cash was used to become current on two SBA 7(a) loans and to purchase materials and supplies. In the past three years, revenues have rapidly grown and net worth has more than doubled. In 2015, the company’s sales grew a record 50 percent. Debra and Oscarware annually contribute time and money to local and regional charities, civic groups and schools.

Second Runner-up

Lars C. Herman
Herman Construction Group, Inc.
Escondido, Calif.

Lars Herman served in the U.S. Navy and resigned his commission with the Civil Engineer Corps in June 2009 after serving in various positions and rising to the rank of Lieutenant. He immediately established Herman Construction Group, Inc., an 8(a)-certified construction company specializing in federal projects.

Herman competed for and won more than 80 general construction and design-build contracts ranging from $3,000 to nearly $24 million throughout the United States. Many of the projects were performed with several government agencies, including the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, Veterans Administration, and the State of California, along with private and commercial clients. Herman has proven to be an industry expert in renovation, repair and upgrading active research facilities, laboratories, VA hospitals and military medical treatment facilities.

Amidst dwindling government budgets and a highly competitive market, Herman not only survived the Great Recession but grew exponentially by penetrating niche markets that were underserved by small business prime contractors specializing in construction within occupied medical spaces. The SBA’s 8(a) Business Development and Mentor-Protégé programs helped Herman develop the necessary tools for its double-digit growth. During 2013-2015, Herman received more than $80 million in contracts set aside for small businesses. In 2016, Herman was awarded an additional $51 million in set-aside contracts.

Third Runner-up

Corliss Udoema
President & CEO
Contract Solutions, Inc. (CSI)
Manassas, Va

After a successful 32-year career with the federal government, Corliss Udoema started Contract Solutions, Inc. in 2006 to provide professional staffing and management support services to federal, state and local government, private for-profit and non-profit clients.

CSI is an 8(a) and economically disadvantaged woman-owned small business that works throughout the country. CSI sought and received assistance from the SBA’s Office of Government Contracting.

Udoema is able to use 8(a) certification to allow CSI to bid on set-aside contracts that allow the company to gain access to federal contracts that would otherwise be more difficult to win.

After several years of steady growth, CSI has increased its contracts and revenue. In 2013, CSI participated in the SBA’s Mentor-Protégé Program. The program allowed Udoema to win a contract with her mentor and later negotiate a subcontract with the same vendor, allowing her to continue the contract for four additional years.

Udoema is also the founder and President of Agape Love in Action, a nonprofit organization providing support for those in need. The dedication to her clients, employees and the community has helped grow CSI since opening its doors. In addition, Udoema is a small business SCORE counselor, providing business mentoring to other entrepreneurs.

To learn more about National Small Business Week and read the bios on all the winners, please visit

This post was originally published here.