This year, we celebrate a group of entrepreneurs who were inspired to turn their innovative solutions into successful businesses. The winners of the Black Enterprise Small Business Awards will be announced at the 11th annual Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference, hosted by General Motors, May 17-20, at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. Look for more coverage on blackenterprise.com and further recognition of the winners’ accomplishments in the September 2006 issue.
Emerging Company of the Year NOMINEES
This award recognizes businesses that have poised themselves for growth by carving out a special business niche or by adopting creative marketing techniques.
International Catastrophe Solutions
TYPE OF BUSINESS: Disaster Recovery, CEO/PRESIDENT: Corey Pitts. LOCATION: Atlanta
After the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast region, private companies were lining up to help with the recovery process. International Catastrophe Solutions, a disaster recovery company, was one of the first to arrive.
Corey Pitts, 36, president and CEO of ICS, and his technicians were in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi to help commercial enterprises-including several hotels-clean up their properties. ICS has partnered with Marriott, Radisson, Crowne Plaza, Sheraton, and Holiday Inn hotels. The company cleaned and sanitized some hotels so aid workers and government officials had places to stay during the arduous cleanup and rebuilding efforts.
Pitts directs a mobile emergency response unit that specializes in fire and water restoration, dehumidification, mold remediation, and asbestos removal. Last year, the 80-employee company posted $37 million in revenues.
Warm Spirit Inc.
TYPE OF BUSINESS: Direct Selling. CEO/PRESIDENT & CO-FOUNDER: Nadine Thompson. LOCATION: Exeter, NH
Nadine Thompson will tell you that Warm Spirit is not your average beauty-and-wellness company. Her unique direct-sales business-selling products at home gatherings, one-on-one, or through catalogs-was initially created to empower African American women, an audience Thompson felt was underserved as both consumers and entrepreneurs.
Warm Spirit, founded in 1999 by Thompson, 44, and Daniel Wolf, produces a comprehensive collection of nature-based beauty and healthcare products. Supplies are sold through a diverse nationwide network of more than 20,000 independent consultants, who earn income from personal direct sales and sales of consultants they recruit into the company.
Boosted by a phenomenal period of growth and end-of-year sales, the Exeter, New Hampshire-based firm reported income for 2005 at nearly $15 million. Sales for 2006 are projected to be well over $20 million.
Global Professional Solutions
TYPE OF BUSINESS: Information Technology. CEO/PRESIDENT: Frank J. Stuart. LOCATION: Alexandria, VA.
Frank J. Stuart has successfully capitalized on the increasing need for security in the U.S. to catapult his firm, Global Professional Solutions, into this $40 billion marketplace.
GPS specializes in program management and information technology support-from systems development and deployment to information collection and intelligence analysis. Stuart, the 45-year-old president and CEO who founded the Alexandria, Virginia-based company in 1995, announced in January 2005 that the firm’s new initiative was to achieve ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management System certification, a feat the firm accomplished in nine months.
GPS’ personnel certification