David Dafoe - CEO and Founder of Distilled Spirits Epicenter in the Lab

Small business is responsible for creating nearly two-thirds of net new jobs in the United States each year and employing more than half of all Americans. Small businesses have always been a vital part of our country’s economy. As outlets for creativity and ingenuity, small businesses do more than create jobs and foster growth — they represent the spirit that has always driven our Nation forward. This year, the nation celebrates National Small Business week May 1-7, 2016.

Small businesses from all over the country were nominated to receive the National Small Business of the Year. The winners from each state were invited to spend the week in Washington, D.C. to talk small business, exchange ideas and learn who won the coveted National Small Business of the Year. One of this year’s top winners is well known in the distilled spirits industry!

Flavorman 3rd Runner Up for National Small Business of the Year

David Dafoe - CEO and Founder of Distilled Spirits Epicenter Wins 3rd Runner Up for National Small Business of the Year
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David Dafoe – CEO and Founder of Distilled Spirits Epicenter (Center)


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I’m proud to share that  a small business from the distilled spirits industry won one of this year’s top honors. David Dafoe of Flavorman received 3rd runner up in this year’s competition. Dafoe founded what was originally Pro-Liquitech International in 1992 after being employed at the Brown-Forman, where he developed many new products. Pro-Liquitech evolved into Flavorman, an international custom beverage production company. Its client list includes internationally known brands, some of the world’s largest distilleries as well as many of the countries up and coming craft distilleries.

In 2012, Dafoe founded Flavorman’s sister company, the Distilled Spirits Epicenter, on the Flavorman campus. The Distilled Spirits Epicenter is made up of Moonshine University, Grease Monkey Distillery and Challenge Bottling.

National Small Business of the Year Awards

Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration recognized and awarded this year’s National Small Business Week national award winners including the Small Business Person(s) of the Year at a ceremony and reception in Washington, D.C.

“It is my extreme pleasure and honor to announce that business partners Brooke McDonnell and Helen Russell from Equator Coffees & Teas headquartered in San Rafael, California are this year’s national Small Business Person(s) of the Year.  It all started in 1995 when they started to roast coffee in Brooke’s garage.  Equator now has 90 employees and 350 wholesale customers including the renowned French Laundry restaurant, cafes at LinkedIn, micro-kitchens at Google and three retail stores in Northern California with two more on the way,” Contreras-Sweet said. “Helen and Brooke purchased their own roasting plant using an SBA 504 loan.  They have worked diligently with their farmers for 17 years and were one of the first roasters to support the Fair Trade movement to gain better wages for growers.”

“The overall competition was extremely competitive this year.  The highlight of my day was to be able to meet and award every state and territory winner and thank them for all they do for their local economy and America’s small business community. Two out of three net new jobs in America are created by small businesses and it’s all of our small business winners today who are leading the way,”Contreras-Sweet added.

First Runner-up

Angela O’Byrne, President, Perez, APC, New Orleans, Louisiana

Headquartered in New Orleans Perez, APC has provided clients with design and construction services for more than 75 years. The company specializes in housing, government, education, recreation, hospitality, and healthcare facilities.

Angela O’Byrne acquired 100 percent ownership of the firm in 2000. With a staff of more than 50, she has grown the multi-discipline organization to 15 branch locations, including those along the East, West, and Gulf Coasts, the Midwest, and Afghanistan.

Despite losing 23 of 25 contracts as a result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, O’Byrne never lost her determination. She took a disaster recovery loan from the SBA and patiently awaited the return of paying projects that would allow the firm to thrive again. Her perseverance paid off in 2006 with a large number of new contracts.

The Perez team has won multi-million dollar federal contracts from Germany to the Caribbean to North Africa as it continues to thrive under her leadership.

O’Byrne is also a passionate advocate for women in architecture and construction, and is involved in countless professional and nonprofit organizations dedicated to their industry advancement.

Second Runner-up

Raymond Jardine Jr., Chairman, CEO, Native Hawaiian Veterans, LLC., Honolulu, Hawaii

Ray Jardine Jr. started Native Hawaiian Veterans (NHV) in 2005 with just three employees and first-year revenue of about $64,000.

In 11 years of operation, NHV has reached impressive heights in terms of expansion, revenues and jobs created. By 2015, the company had already expanded his lines of business to all 50 states and territories, 20 countries, more than 200 employees and over $30 million in gross revenue.

At its inception, NHV started out as an IT company but has diversified into areas such as Homeland Security, Emergency Management, Security Services, Fire and Emergency Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection and several others. Its main customer is the federal government, for which it has handled hundreds of contracts, both as an 8(a) certified subcontractor and prime contractor.

Jardine is a strong advocate of small businesses and has a proven history of volunteer efforts to advance the small business community. He also is very involved in the community at large and contributes both time and money to many organizations such as the Kina’ole Foundation, the Native Hawaiian Organizations Association, the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce and many others.

Third Runner-up

David Dafoe, Founder and Chief Operations Officer, Flavorman and Distilled Spirts Epicenter, Louisville, Kentucky

David Dafoe struck out on his own after a successful career with a local beverage company, where he worked to develop well-known drink mixes and cocktails.  He formed Pro-Liquitech International in 1992, which later became Flavorman, an international customer beverage production company.  Dafoe started the company with one customer and no employees, but that quickly changed as the company rapidly grew.  He currently has 30 full-time and four part-time employees.

As Flavorman evolved, its impressive list of clients grew to include Chiquita Brands, Ocean Spray, the Kellogg Company, Sunsweet Growers, Brooklyn Bottling and many of the world’s top ten distilleries, among other beverage companies.  In 2012, Dafoe founded a sister company, the Distilled Spirits Epicenter.

Dafoe has used an SBA-backed 7(a) loan and a separate 504 loan to move to its current HUBZone location near downtown Louisville.

National Small Business Week is an annual event organized by SBA to recognize the achievements of the top small businesses in the nation. Since 1963, the president of the United States has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of National Small Business Week. Events throughout the week will be live-streamed on SBA’s website here.

Related Story
David Dafoe of Flavorman & Moonshine U One of Nation’s Top Small Businesses (Includes winners from all 50 states.)

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