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SBA to Bestow 2011 Small Business Awards

San Diego-area companies to be honored for business success

Cindy Erie, president of E-World Recyclers in Vista, has been named the 2011 Small Business Person of the Year by the San Diego district office of the Small Business Administration. Erie and six other business owners and small business advocates will be honored at the SBA’s small business awards luncheon June 9 at the Town and Country Resort & Convention center in Mission Valley. The SBA is partnering in the event with the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, which will present awards of its own.
Erie’s company, which has five other founders, including her husband, Bob Erie, is a nationwide leader in the recycling of electronic equipment, a fast-growing industry in the U.S. The recycling industry employs more than 100,000 people and generates $54 billion domestically and $21.4 billion in exports to over 150 countries worldwide. E-World Recyclers takes electronics equipment, breaks them down into their base components, which are then sent to recyclers who further process each item to make it usable on the market again. The company also offers companies that provide the electronic scrap to share in the revenue from the sale of the parts that are placed back into the market.
“There isn’t much revenue in taking postconsumer scrap and turning it into ground-up copper, steel, plastic or glass,” says the SBA in its report on E-World Recyclers. “In contrast, one little piece of the item could be worth 10 times more than you could ever get for selling it as scrap commodities.”
Opened in 2006, E-World Recyclers employs about 25 people and has shown steady growth over the years. The company is responsible for creating hundreds of thousands of pounds per month of raw materials used in the manufacturing of new products, according to Kevin Ham, economic development director for the city of Vista.
“Many people have older computer systems that they do not know what to do with,” says Erie. “We offer both businesses and private families a way to safely and securely dispose of their older products. “When people recycle, they are doing something good for the environment.”
“Cindy Erie’s genuine commitment to environmental concers and her innovative spirit have earned her a profound reputation in the electronic recycling business,” says Assemblyman Martin Garrick. “Her efforts have resulted in creating a business that provides a solution to California’s growing electronic waste problem. Millions of pounds of hazardous materials have been diverted from California landfills through her company’s diligent work.”

The SBA’s Other Award Winners:
Women-Owned Small Business of the Year — Anita Nichols, Mom’s Inc. (Mom’s Pies), in Julian.
Nichols began her pie-baking business in 1984 in a small space in the old Julian Café building, but word of her fruit pies spread rapidly and she was able to expand the bakery to include a larger kitchen and more options on her menu — cookies cinnamon rolls and other homemade treats. Nichols recruited the help of her children — Laurie, Teak, Erica and Jesse — in the business. They worked their during the high school years and continued during college breaks. Laurie is still involved as the shop’s bookkeeper. Today, the pie house employs 40 people. It makes more than 1,000 pieces per day on weekends and between 300 and 400 during the week, depending on requests and special orders.

Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year — Moninder S. Birdi, Birdi and Associates Inc., in San Diego.

Birdi founded Birdi & Associates in 2006, an engineering consulting firm offering services in technology, security, software development, systems maintenance and project management. The company has completed several projects at San Diego airports and at Los Angeles International Airport. Birdi holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Bombay and a master’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of Maryland. He worked for 10 years with Parsons Engineering Science before forming his own company.

Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year — Kev Kutina, Kevcon Inc. in Escondido.
Kutina is the president and CEO of Kevcon, a company that specializes in general contracting services and construction management for government projects. The firm has managed a variety of government projects, ranging from complete ground-up, large-scale buildings to small tenant improvements. The majority of the firm’s employees are veterans who manage and execute the projects. The company recently completed the National Cemetery in South Florida and are completing a phase of the National Cemetery in the San Joaquin Valley. Kevcon was recently awarded one of the newest and largest national cemeteries in San Diego — the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. The firm’s revenues have climbed substantially from the $100 million it earned in 2005 when Kutina and two fellow veterans worked the company. In 2009, revenues grew to $23 million.

Financial Services Champion — Gabriel Reyes, Small Business Development & International Trade Center (SBDITC), in National City.
Reyes has been a business adviser with the SBDITC for more than seven years. It is a SBA grant-funded program that provides no-cost business counseling and training services to start-up and existing business owners. Reyes has advised more than 943 small business owners and provided more than 2,000 hours of counseling in finance, business plan development, among others. The firms benefiting from his services include woman-owned, minority-owned and veteran-owned companies. Reyes is credited with helping 118 clients obtain 125 loans totaling more than  $2.4 million and assisting in the creation and retention of 86 jobs.

Minority Small Business Champion — Bernard Johnson, The Bernard Johnson Group Inc., in La Mesa.
Johnson is president and CEO of the company, which he founded in 1994. The firm offers a variety of services focusing on redevelopment, business development, government procurement, supplier divdersity and outreach services for prime contractors as well as minority subcontractors. Johnson has been instrumental in many notable projects. He worked with Southeastern Economic Development Corp. and Price Charities to develop the Gateway Center in Southeastern San Diego. In conjunction with the Price Club and using federal job training dollars, Johnson established the “Retail Associate Academy” and helped establish San Diego’s first business incubator. The incubator later housed  the San Diego Contracting Opportunities Center.

Women in Business Champion — Nancy Fredericks, Sales Link, in San Diego.
Fredericks is the owner of Sales Link, a consulting firm focusing on small businesses and their strategic planning for sales and marketing. Sales Link also provides training services to a number of local technical assistance organization on such topics as general marketing, sales and customer service. For six years, Fredericks has taught business start-up, marketing and leadership courses as a faculty member at Southwestern College. She has taught business plan writing, operating a small business as a faculty member at San Diego City College. She has championed for increased opportunities for women in industry and has worked to develop training programs within such industries as food service and hospitality, which have a higher percentage of women in the workforce.

The 2011 George P. Chandler Jr. Award and SBA Lender awards will be announced at the June 9 luncheon. San Diego area government procurement agencies will recognize their Contractors of the Year, prime contractors will recognize their small business Contractors of the Year and the San Diego Business Improvement District Council will recognize its BID Business of the Year. For more information and to register, call the Chamber of Commerce at (619) 544-1370 or visit

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