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Duquesne SBDC gets funding via CARES Act

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Here's how the money will be put to work to help small businesses deal with Covid-19 related challenges.

Local entrepreneur gets a boost from Small Business Development Center

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On an average day, Trina Worrell Benjamin handles invoices, returns calls and emails, directs a team of nearly a dozen employees and manages a client roster that has included big names like Rite Aid and Toys“R”Us. She admits her first steps into entrepreneurship were not easy. But with the help of…

Local entrepreneur gets a boost from Small Business Development Center

  • SBDC: Temple University SBDC
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Six SBDC Clients and Bucknell University SBDC Honored with SBA Awards during National Small Business Week 2016

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    • Acoustic Sheep SBA Award
    • Bucknell SBA Award
    • Buttonwood Campground SBA Award
    • Colorfin SBA Award
    • Exact Match SBA Award
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The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) are proud to announce that six small businesses and the Bucknell University SBDC have been honored with awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) during the 2016 National Small Business Week.

Each of the six companies has worked with their local SBDC to grow their business and have been successful in expanding into new markets, hiring new employees, securing capital to grow their enterprises.  The 2016 SBA National Small Business Week award winners are as follows:

Pennsylvania Exporter of the Year Award
Bernadette Ward and Ladd Forsline, Owners, Colorfin, LLC
Nominated by: Kutztown University SBDC

Forsline and Ward formed Colorfin in 2005 and now export to the European Union, Far East, Pacific Rim, NAFTA trade partners and South America. Colorfin LLC develops and manufacturers innovative materials (colors and applicators) for artists. Their products are developed in Kutztown in two unique ranges: PanPastel, the world’s first dry artist’s colors that work like paint and Sofft Tools, contemporary tools and applicators for art and craft. Artists worldwide use PanPastel for their unique qualities. Colorfin’s reputation for consistent quality and innovation is recognized in the U.S. and in 38 other countries. Beginning her career with Westinghouse (Europe), Ward worked in public relations in London’s fashion industry and as product marketing manager in food wraps and art materials since the late 1980s. Artist and inventor Forsline graduated from the Master of Fine Arts program, Yale School of Art in 1988, then set up Forsline & Starr Ltd, the company behind such inventions as Colour Shaper® and Oil Bar®.

Eastern Pennsylvania’s Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year Award
Jennifer Gill, President, Managing Member, Exact Match Masonry Staining, LLC
Matthew Gill, Vice President, Exact Match Masonry Staining, LLC
Nominated by: Kutztown University SBDC

Exact Match is a niche masonry and expert custom coatings application business. When clients struggle to match building additions, repaired areas, correct graffiti damage or face other color problems, the firm reverse-engineers custom colors for masonry and mortar to create an exact match which transforms or matches the color of brick, block, mortar, stone, concrete, Cast Stone, retaining wall systems and stucco. Jennifer, with her husband and vice president Matthew, worked with a team of chemists to perfect, test and expand their product line.

Eastern Pennsylvania Small Business Person of the Year Award
Patrick G. Nasser, William K. Nasser, III, Eric D. Miller, Anthony V. Potis, (owners), Backyard Ale House
Nominated by: The University of Scranton SBDC

Since Backyard Ale House opened in 2008, when the owners seized the opportunity to form a partnership between the brothers and two of their lifelong friends, the downtown Scranton “craft beer-oriented” bar establishment has won numerous awards for service, beverage selection and atmosphere. The success of the business in the last seven years speaks to its success in fulfilling a much-needed and desired niche in the market. That success lead to a major renovation in 2011 including expansion into the vacant store next door, a façade make-over, enlargement of the inside bar room, a bottle shop with six-pack takeout and merchandise, second floor storage and a full-service top of the line kitchen. The successful two and half year renovation has helped the Backyard Ale House become a fixture in the downtown Scranton community. In the last three years there has been a steady 35 percent growth financially leading to an 80 percent growth in number of employees to meet growth in sales and demand.

Eastern Pennsylvania Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year Award
John James McGeehan, Owner, Gaver Industries, Inc. dba Barker & Barker Paving
Gavin John McGeehan, Owner, Gaver Industries, Inc. dba Barker & Barker Paving
Nominated by: Lehigh University SBDC

Gaver Industries, Inc. is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned (SDVOSB) asphalt paving contractor serving the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas. The firm provides residential, commercial, and industrial paving solutions Paving solutions, concrete and excavation work. Known as Barker & Barker Corp. until McGeehan purchased it in 2009, the firm has sustained significant growth. Gaver Industries, Inc. is committed to taking the time to select superior high grade aggregates and other paving materials to ensure high quality, durable and even surfaces. All work is guaranteed and the firm returns to the site immediately in the unlikely event of a problem. Following a slight decline in 2013, Gaver Industries, Inc. rebounded in 2014 with a significant increase in sales and net profit. As a SDVOSB, the firm has obtained several prime contact awards in 2014, which significantly increased overall sales. In 2014, Gaver Industries, Inc. completed the purchase of property, adding warehouse and office space. The purchase allowed the business to improve efficiency of operations, with one central location for office space and the storage of vehicles, machinery, and equipment.

Western Pennsylvania & Overall Pennsylvania Small Business Person of the Year Award
Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, CEO, AcousticSheep
Nominated by: Gannon University SBDC

SleepPhones® are a unique combination of flat speakers and wires, all housed in a soft, comfortable fleece headband. These simple yet innovative headphones allow those experiencing difficulties sleeping to get some much needed sleep by listening to meditative sounds or music. Ten years ago, the husband-wife duo created their first headband prototype. Reception was phenomenal, as they sold out of SleepPhones® within a year. Fast-forward nine years and Lai no longer practices medicine; instead she serves as CEO for AcousticSheep. She’s relocated to Erie to a larger facility for storage, warehousing and administrative offices and the Gannon University SBDC now assists Dr. Lai. AcousticSheep’s flock of employees has grown to 25 and sales are on the uptick growing at $1 million a year since 2012.

Eastern Pennsylvania Family-Owned Small Business of the Year Award
Dennis, Nancy, Ryan and Michael McFarland, Owners, Buttonwood Campground
Nominated by: Penn State SBDC

Founded in 1993, Buttonwood Campground sits on 40 acres just off of State Routes 322 and 22 in the village of Mexico, Juniata County, Pa., located halfway between Harrisburg and State College. In the early 1990’s, Dennis and Nancy McFarland fell in love with the campground’s property overlooking the Juniata River. While continuing to work other full-time jobs, Dennis as an electrician and Nancy in retail, they created a vision to turn their property into a robust incoming-producing property. By 2000, they had installed 50 camp sites and related infrastructure. Their oldest son, Michael, used his passion for landscaping to create many beautiful focal points around the campground. In early 2001, they created a master plan for the development of the property. This was the catalyst that started ten years of tremendous growth, with consistent double-digit increases in revenues. Their youngest son, Ryan, returned to the campground in 2008 after serving in the Air Force. Together they have worked to turn Buttonwood into the award-winning destination it is today.      

Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Award
Steven Stumbris, Director, Bucknell University SBDC

Bucknell University SBDC was the first in the nation to be hosted by a College of Engineering and leverages its relationship with the College to provide entrepreneurs, manufacturers, and technology firms with specialty Engineering Development Services helping them develop and commercialize innovative products.  The center’s connection with Bucknell’s College of Engineering has long been a foundation for the Pennsylvania SBDC network’s Technology Services, and the PA program is one of only 12 in the country to earn supplemental accreditation for these services.

In the past three years Bucknell University SBDC has served clients, the region and the university through the launch of innovative new programs including:

  • Bucknell SBDC was the first center in Pennsylvania to serve as a local host for the SBA’s InnovateHER Business Challenge in 2015. InnovateHER is SBA’s cross-cutting prize competition to unearth innovative products and services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families.
  • Bucknell University Entrepreneurs Incubator “StartupLewisburg,” the home for innovators and entrepreneurs in downtown Lewisburg
  • BizPitch: a competition giving student entrepreneurs the opportunity to get expert advice from alumni and to win prizes to help them launch their ventures
  • Tech Meetup Lewisburg: a monthly networking and education event bringing interesting, talented, and motivated people together to network, share ideas, and start making innovative new products

Every year, SBA solicits nominations for high-impact small businesses as part of their National Small Business Week Awards.  This year, the Pennsylvania SBDC network had six client businesses selected as award recipients who join the national list of outstanding entrepreneurs and small business owners representing all 50 states and U.S. territories.

The SBA National Small Business Week Awards recognize small businesses on a variety of levels including growth of employees, increase in sales, sound financial performance, response to adversity and community contributions.  

National Small Business Week is proclaimed by the President of the United States to recognize the critical contributions of America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs. This year, the week-long celebration ran May 1-7, 2016 with events held in multiple cities from coast-to-coast.  To learn more, visit