SBA winners include well-rated Angie's List businesses

SBA winners include well-rated Angie's List businesses

For a week every year, the U.S. Small Business Administration honors the achievements and contributions of America's small business owners. From June 17-June 21, 2013, National Small Business Week events across the country will include educational panels and workshops to help entrepreneurs and small business owners start or grow a business. In addition, on June 21, a national Small Business Person of the Year will be named from among local winners from all U.S. states and terrorities.

Of the 2013 SBA local winners whose work fits categories covered by Angie’s List, several are highly rated by members. They are:

Saq Nadeem, owner of Paradise 4 Paws in Chicago, which has locations near O’Hare and Midway international airports. Nadeem came up with the idea for an airport-based luxury pet resort while in an entrepreneurship class at Northwestern University. He left a steady job in 2008 to realize the concept, and has since opened a facility at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, with plans to open more at other major airports.

Judith Huck, owner of Classique Floors, Portland, Ore. In 1997, Huck bought the business from her parents, who started it in 1977.

She grew the company from two employees and $500,000 in annual sales to its current 18 employees and $4.5 million in sales.

Matthew A. Qualey, owner of Qualey Granite & Stone Fabrication in Bangor, Maine. Qualey was on the road to getting a doctorate in clinical neuropsychology when he decided to go to work for himself.

In 10 years, the business evolved from just him and his brother working in a small dirt-floor shop to 18 employees in a 50,000-square-foot facility.

For the state awards, the SBA considered established businesses with growth potential that have made use of SBA resources and have shown innovation and the ability to handle adversity while also contributing to their communities.

For Huck, that’s meant not only donating flooring materials to Habitat for Humanity but serving as president of the Portland chapter. Nadeem mentors business students at Northwestern University. Qualey and his wife, Laurie, have raised thousands of dollars for their local Humane Society and several rescue dog organizations.

The state winners say they see an obvious link between the SBA recognition and positive Angie’s List reviews. “Being an ethical company and extremely focused on customer service plays into both,” Huck says. “Without customers having a great experience with us, we’d no longer be in business.”

For Nadeem, the occasional negative consumer review can be as valuable as positive feedback. “At a bare minimum we need to take a critical look at ourselves and ask, ‘How could we have avoided this?’” he says. “In any business, things can and will go wrong. It’s what we do when things go wrong that matters.”

Qualey says pleasing consumers is key: “When I started years ago, a friend said, ‘If you do a good job and you’re there when you say you will be there, people will come back.’ He’s right.”


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Angie Hicks congratulates 2013 SBA winners

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Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.
Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.

Angie Hicks, founder and CMO of Angie’s List, the online review company, will speak June 21, 2013, as the Small Business Week guest of Karen Mills, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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