Leading The Pack

From high technology to publishing, b.e.'s small business award winners are pushing their companies to new levels

staff of 13 and has four vehicles. “Not many people would think that what I do is typically a woman’s kind of job,” says Payne-Nabors, who had to shell out $654,000 for her first vehicle, the equivalent of a tractor trailer.

Mobile Cardiac Imaging (MCI), now with revenues of $2 million, has grown significantly since 1998 when Payne-Nabors started the company with $90,000. She currently manages two fixed-site departments and will soon acquire a third.

Payne-Nabors is working to get minority business certification so that MCI can also sell medical supplies. MCI’s expansion does not indicate a shift away from mobile services. She remains confident that mobile medical technology will be a growing trend and a “win-win situation.” “Patients are more comfortable in their physician’s environment,” she says, “and the physicians have more control over the diagnostic report and interpretation.”

Orlando Robinson
Rising Star Award
Orlando Robinson, this year’s winner of the BLACK ENTERPRISE Rising Star Award, shocked his critics when he invented the Seat Belt Shifter Lock. It was created in honor of his late fiancée, Dionyell Walton, who died tragically in a car accident because she was not wearing a seat belt. The Rising Star Award recognizes individuals ages 21 — 35 whose outstanding skills, professionalism, and perseverance have established them as future business leaders.

Robinson, 30, was told that a guy without an engineering degree, working from his garage, couldn’t design an automotive-grade technological product with the potential to save over 9,000 lives a year. Now, Robinson’s product is being tested on fleets of government and corporate vehicles. The Seat Belt Shifter Lock guarantees that you cannot take a vehicle out of park until your seat belt is on. You can take the seat belt off, but a loud chime will sound constantly. D&D Innovations Inc. also provides electronic and software engineering services to automotive suppliers and projects revenues of more than $1 million in 2003.

“I want D&D to be a company that people associate with products that enhance the quality of life,” says Robinson. In his own pursuit of social justice, Robinson hopes to prompt legislation, requiring automotive manufacturers to offer the Seat Belt Shifter Lock as an option to consumers. “It’s easier to install than a security system,” says Robinson. “If we’re offering security systems that protect people’s cars, we should be offering similar technology to protect people’s lives.”

Kenya James
Teenpreneur Award
For a 14-year-old without a license to drive, Kenya James, winner of BLACK ENTERPRISE’S 2003 Teenpreneur Award, is going places fast. This 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.

James is publisher of Blackgirl Magazine, a publication geared toward African American teenagers. In an industry where many magazine startups fail, being declined over and again by advertisers hasn’t stopped her from publishing seven issues.

“You have to have the mentality that you are never too young to make a positive difference,” says James, who predicts that the Atlanta-based Blackgirl will generate $30,000 in 2003. Starting

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