Above the Rest

Our Small Business Awards winners reap the rewards of passion and perseverance

Rocket Science, Brown anticipates revenues of $6 million by the end of 2007. “The gestation period for a film is anywhere from three to five years when you include the casting, shooting, editing, and delivery,” says Brown. “It’s so rewarding to actually see the finished product.”

Brown works with crews of up to 100 during busy production periods but maintains a core staff of five. Being at the helm of her own company is a long way from picking up discarded cigarettes; however, Brown says she is determined to treat everyone the same, because “The decisions you make at the top affect everybody.”

Teenpreneur Award: Cotrac Co., Joel Williams Jr.
“I’m doing something positive for the African American community, something no one has done before,” exclaims Joel Williams Jr. on why he loves being a trailblazer. The Teenpreneur Award recognizes entrepreneurs under the age of 18 who serve as role models and are committed to advancing the rich tradition of black business achievement.
At age 13, Joel Williams Jr. is the president and CEO of the Cotrac Co., the parent company of SmartButton (www.smart buttonshoes.com). When pressed, SmartButton tells children which shoe is for the left or right foot. Manufactured overseas, SmartButton is distributed from the Williams’ home-based business in Troy,

Williams wanted to be more actively involved in his patented idea, from design to implementation. So he learned the instructional lines in French and German in order to lend his voice to the SmartButtons being produced in foreign languages, a response to increasing customer demand for languages other than English and Spanish. Over the past six months, sales have increased by 45%, and Williams is confident that the company will triple its 2006 sales totals of $30,000. With the company’s growing success, he expects to hire additional employees by year-end to work alongside his current staff of two, his mom and dad.

Of course, the eighth grader is just as serious about his schoolwork as he is about his business. But how does he balance it all? “I basically work with the company every other day,” reveals Williams. “So I do two days of schoolwork on Monday and Wednesday and then company stuff on Tuesday and Thursday. And when I’m really busy, my dad helps out also.”

This summer, Williams focused on researching and developing new products to add to the Cotrac Co. He says he enjoys contributing to the development of young children, adding, “It feels really good to help out.” BE

For more information on the Small Business Awards or to nominate a business or entrepreneur, go to www.blackenter prise.com

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