Small Business Growth Award winners

Small Businesses Honored at Success Awards Luncheon 

Entrepreneurs recognized for growth via NJSBDC assistance. 

Fourteen small business owners and entrepreneurs from diverse industry sectors were recognized at the New Jersey Small Business Development Center’s (NJSBDC) 13th Annual Small Business Growth Awards Luncheon this past December.

These award winners, all clients of the state’s SBDC network, were recognized for their development and growth with the assistance provided by NJSBDC’s business practitioners and experts. The event was held at the Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township, with more than 300 attendees.

“This event brought our partners, clients, and stakeholders and all of our statewide experts together for a special commemoration of our clients’ success stories,” said NJSBDC network Chief Executive Officer and State Director Brenda Hopper. “These success stories show our economic impact and contribution to the state’s economy.”

According to Deborah Smarth, NJSBDC chief operating officer and associate state director, “This event is a perfect way of ending a full year of impact in helping small businesses get to where they want to go, especially on the 35th anniversary of America’s SBDC national program.”

From January 1, 2015 through June 30, 2015, the NJSBDC helped clients create and save 6,074 jobs. In 2014, clients statewide created and saved 15,089 jobs, and 534 clients started a new business. The network counsels up to 5,000 small business clients annually in addition to thousands of trainees who attend NJSBDC seminars.

The Small Business Success Award winners were all assisted by their local SBDC offices. The NJSBDC network consists of 12 full-service regional centers and additional offices in every county.

The 14 Success Awards Winners:

  • Grigore “Greg” Burdea, Ph.D., a client of NJSBDC’s Technology Commercialization Program, who founded Bright Cloud International Corp., located in Highland Park. The company is a pioneer in the field of virtual rehabilitation to benefit victims of stroke, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease and cerebral palsy.
  • Stacey Schlosser, owner of Glassworks Studio in Morristown, who received recognition from NJSBDC’s Sustainability Specialty Program for her use of “green” practices promoting energy conservation, waste reduction and using proper recyclable materials for her glass fusing studio.
  • Tom Olsen and Kristine LaGuardia who own and operate Lobster Life Systems, Inc., located in Lodi. The company provides state-of-the-art equipment and supplies necessary to operating a healthy aquatic system for supermarket chains, restaurants, gourmet shops, wholesalers and marine exhibitors.
  • Altagracia “Jessie” Sanchez, owner of Jessie Beauty Salon, LLC in Perth Amboy, who came to the US from the Dominican Republic with a dream of starting a business.
  • Dr. Laura Rokosz, Ph.D., founder of EGGLROCK Nutrition, LLC, an integrative healthcare practice located in Union. The company provides dietary and lifestyle strategy recommendations for disease prevention and health wellness and maintenance.
  • Milton Herrera, owner and operator of Milherton Commercial Flooring in Fairview. When he was 23 years old, Herrera came to the US from El Salvador and worked in the flooring trade while trying to start his own business.
  • Zulya Rajabova, founder of Silk Road Treasure Tours, a boutique travel and tourism business in Chester focusing on Central Asia.
  • Sandra White and her husband, Richard Sobczak who, after researching franchises, decided to establish PuroClean Disaster Response located in Middlesex. The NJSBDC provided assistance to the business, which grew from a five member staff to nine employees, with sales of almost $1 million.
  • Patricia Ott, P.E., who established MBO Engineering LLC six years ago. The company is located in Bordentown. Company sales increased by more than 50 percent (2012-2014) and overall company growth was more than 300 percent.
  • Jayesh and Manisha Mehta, owners of AUM Group of Companies, LLC, which focuses on planning and managing events, childcare, media communications and artist management. With the assistance of the NJSBDC, the owners acquired four new franchises and now have 45 employees and expanded revenues.
  • Adenah Bayoh, who established Foya Hospitality Group and currently owns IHOP franchises in Paterson and Irvington. As CEO and founder, she has built a successful business model, investing in economically challenged neighborhoods.
  • Katarina Elder and her husband Rob, owners of The Cape May Day Spa in Cape May. The couple opened the facility with the assistance of the NJSBDC, receiving a several hundred-thousand-dollar loan.
  • Barbara Weigand, who successfully started and has grown her Copper River Salon and Spa in Princeton. The salon is now thriving with 13 employees and a half-million dollars in annual revenues.
  • Jose Alberto, Julio Morales and Louis Saia, who started PyroSense Technologies LLC in Fairfield. Their previous employer closed operations, leaving the men and 30 other employees without jobs. The trio started their own manufacturing company producing a wide variety of sensors for all industries.


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