Driven to Succeed

These companies emerged as B.E.'s 1999 Small Business Award winners. Here's why.

papers and other paper products. It is Michigan’s only minority-owned Tier One supplier in the paper conversion business. In Wisconsin, the firm packages after-market auto service parts and electronic components.

Clients include DaimlerChrysler, PPG Glass and Dana Corp. The firm also has strategic alliances with Packaging Corp. of America and xpedx, two of the top packaging and distribution companies in the world.

"My goal is to expand into automotive glass plants and make this my niche market," says Snider, who owns the only African American paper converting firm serving glass plants. "There are only six in the world. If I get [three of them], I’ll be in good shape. But you have to have a good track record. We focus on this and satisfying our customers."

The Rising Star Award acknowledges exceptional achievement by an individual who is under 35 and in the early stages of his or her business or professional career. With outstanding skills, professionalism and perseverance, this entrepreneur has established him- or herself as a future leader.

Francine Gray-Holt
Holt Computer Training & Consulting Services Inc./ Holt Creative Solutions
Francine Gray-Holt was working as an executive secretary for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida in Jacksonville when a business idea hit.

"I needed to start a company because I realized there was a lot of demand for secretaries, but people didn’t have word processing skills," says Gray-Holt, 36. "I wanted to make sure low-income people were marketable and had the necessary skills to gain high-paying jobs."

Gray-Holt had previous experience as a supervisor in the word processing divisio
n of Coopers & Lybrand in Jacksonville and had also trained co-workers at Blue Cross/ Blue Shield.

"To earn extra income for my family, I trained temporary clerks [in my laundry room] in word processing to turn them into secretaries," Gray-Holt says.

Her husband, Darryl, who served in the Navy, was transferred to New York City in 1991, where she worked for Citibank for six months as a secretary before opening her corporate and individual computer training business, Holt Computer Training & Consulting Services Inc. (HCTC), in 1992 in the heart of New York’s financial district.

Her client base grew as a result of newspaper advertisements, and soon she received referrals from temporary agencies. she also found success developing employees who provide legal and financial services and, five years later, added Holt Creative Solutions (HCS) to provide computer training and temporary and permanent job placement services. With 89 employees, the $2.25 million firm has trained about 3,000 people and boasts a 99% placement rate.

Based on this stellar track record, HCS has attracted such heavyweight clients as Credit Suisse First Boston and Salomon Smith Barney. The firm also has a successful Workforce 2000 program that enables unemployed job seekers on public assistance to be trained in word processing and placed in jobs. The training program lasts four to six months.

"We had

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