Vote Now: Small Business Awards 2012 Nominees

Cast your ballot for which finalists selected by Black Enterprise deserve People's Choice kudos at the Entrepreneurs Conference in Chicago

Clockwise, from left: Lefty's Spices' Walter Nash, Jr.; Tillage Constructions' Ken and Keith Tillage; Dental Kidz' Christopher and Dr. Lezli Levene Harvell


This award is presented to a family-operated business that exemplifies the combined experience and expertise needed to excel in a key industry.

  • Dental Kidz L.L.C.
  • Co-Founders: Christopher and Dr. Lezli Levene Harvell
  • Location: Newark, NJ
  • Type of Business: Pediatric Dental Care Facility

Christopher Harvell and his wife, Dr. Lezli Levene Harvell, melded their expertise in business and in medicine to form a lucrative yet socially conscious enterprise. In 2008, the couple founded Dental Kidz, which follows a business model that accepts payment for services with a state-subsidized healthcare plan or Medicaid, the federally and state-funded health insurance program. In 2009, the couple opened a newly constructed 8,000-square-foot pediatric facility equipped with digital X-rays. Dental Kidz generated revenues of $476,000 in 2009, topping $1.6 million in 2011.

  • Lefty’s Spices L.L.C.
  • Founder/CEO: Walter Nash Jr.
  • Location: Waldorf, MD
  • Type of Business: Sauces and Seasonings Manufacturer

Capitalizing on a family recipe, Walter Nash Jr. formed Lefty’s Spices in 2006, which manufactures barbecue sauces, rubbed meats, dry spices, and fish and chicken seasonings for distribution. He co-owns the business with Walter Nash Sr., Margaret Nash (mother), and LaTanya Nash (sister). Nash has grown the company by solidifying personal relationships and partnerships with food service distributors, including the U.S. Armed Forces, wholesale distributors such as SUPERVALU Inc., major corporations such as Sam’s Club, and retailers such as Lowe’s Food Stores Inc. Lefty’s Spices grossed $459,602 in revenues for 2010 and hit $678,000 in 2011.

Tillage Construction has evolved from Ken Tillage’s hobby of making cabinets for the residential market 20 years ago into a full-service commercial construction company. After leaving corporate America, Keith teamed up with his father in 2000 to form Tillage Construction, a general contracting business specializing in design build, renovation, new construction, and demolition for the government and the private sector. Tillage grew revenues 285% from $2 million in 2007 to $7.7 million in 2010. Revenues for 2011 topped $18.3 million.

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  • Dorothy M. Lewis

    Tillage Construction definitely deserves this award!!

    • Don Clark

      The folks at Tillage Construction are just wonderful. They support many efforts throughout the community and seek no recognition. Good works and community involvement for all the right reasons!

  • Alexander

    It’s about time Dental Kidz gets some recognition!!!! All nominees are awesome but they deserve to take this one home!!

  • gwendolyn levene

    good team work and working with children. Dental Kidz deserves this reward.

  • Jay Fludd

    Family +Team = Winners

  • Joan Tyson

    Great family business, offering a necessary dental service to inner city kids.


    Go Dental Kidz! They should definitely win!!!!

  • Carter Tillage

    Very deserving of this distinct honor. Has always made it a priority to help someone along the way.

    • Rev. Dr. C. Quinn,Jr. Gamma Pi 1957

      Keep the good work going, Brother Tillage!

  • Louis Adair-Robinson jr.

    A very dedicated person,Amber who inspire other young people to go into bussiness for themself.

  • Nadiyah Spencer

    Dental Kidz company mission makes them worthy of this award. To see a thriving young African-American company build a business of this magnitude is impressive!

  • Olivia Braxton

    I was filled with awe when I read about the ambitious undertaking by
    this young couple. The fact that they are doing well while providing
    a worthy service deserves recognition as Black Enterprise’s 2012 Small
    Business of the Year.

  • Dr. Eleanor Cyrus

    Nia’s cookies are so good, it is so good that young people are recognized for their ability. This is so wonderful because young people are so talented and this is a wonderful way of displaying their skills. The world needs to know how gifted our young people are.

  • Queenester Jones

    Love your business. You got my vote!! Good Luck!!

  • Cynthia Renfroe

    What an amazing young lady Amber Liggett is!!! She is certainly a unique young person! Amber is definitely receiving my vote!

  • Scotlandville Sports Academy

    Tillage Construction has been one of our greatest community supports. With the help of Tillage Construction, we have been able to provide $1,000 for needy inner city families during Christmas for 10 years now. We have called the program, The Tillage Family Christmas, where needy families have been selected to receive this gift for their kids Christmas gifts. And on top of that, Tillage Construction has given other needy kids opportunities to participate in our sports programs through yearly scholarships. Now that goes beyond the call of duty for a small business. That is why TILLAGE CONSTRUCTION deserves this honor, for 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, etc… You are WINNERS in our community!!!

  • Louisiana Youth Sports Network

    Ken Tillage is a former college coach/athlete and Keith Tillage is a former college athlete. This family business knows the importance of sports in the inner city community and we are thankful for their knowledge of this. With the constant support of Tillage Construction, our youth sports programs’ participation numbers have increased by 25% annually. With their main office being centrally located in the highest crime area in the city, they have become beacons of light that not everyone has abandon this area. Family, Leadership, Black Pride, Determination, those are the characteristics of Tillage Construction provide to our community and program. Bring it home champs…Tillage Construction deserves this award for being more than just a small business, but for being HOPE in our community.

  • Leroy

    Good luck to my business mentor Ken and my childhood friend Keith. Oh and my fraternity brothers. Tillage Construction deserves this award. I have watched you grow from a small shop on Scenic Highway to a SMALL BUSINESS LEADER in Louisiana. Great job and thank you for the support of my entrepreneurial dream. You deserve this award and more…

  • Rose

    It is awesome to see Nia blossom into a hard working and serious entrepreneur. She was on a mission and she stayed with it until she could say mission accomplished.. Yes, the vegan cookies make you say, ummm they are delicious. If you were not told they were vegan you would never know it.

  • Rose

    Oh yes! you have my vote. Good luck

  • Louisiana Academy

    In this day and age, most community support by businesses are directly from the business’ marketing budget. They want to attract new customers. Not Tillage Construction. When they support, they support from the heart. With all of the support they have given us, not one time have they asked for an ad spot in our programs, a banner in a stadium, a sign on a field, a name on a building, nor a patch on a jersey. This is rare, this is truly committment to community. Now that is what a great family business bring to a community. Tillage Construction should be FAMILY BUSINESS of the YEAR. Keep up the good work and thank you for being our Secret Santas.

  • Bob and Ginny Sanders

    Doing well by doing good. You have our vote.

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  • Rose Jackman

    Nia, because you want to see the world in a healthy place, I am certain you will take first prize. We are so proud of you and continue in God’s grace and love.

  • Tod Fraser

    Kidz Dental is family oriented and very affordable in this community.

  • Joyce Molinari

    Great job Nia. Your mother is so proud of you and all your accomplishments. I am sure you will be taking that first prize home with you. Good Luck.

  • Mike davey

    Nia Froome…you goh deh girl!!!

  • Natallia Fiadorchanka

    Nia, you are an amazing daughter. Keep working hard and you will achieve everything you are aiming for. You do deserve first prize. Best wishes and good luck!

  • Alex Shaulov

    Nia Froom! Your business is the way to go! Good luck!

  • Christine Murrell

    Excellent! Nia. I am so proud of you. May He bless you always, keep your eyes on the path.
    Christine Murrell

  • Tawanna (peni)

    Nia Froom, rejoice in the Lord, and again i say rejoice …I’am rejoicing with you. & God bless you and all ur amazing success. Skies the limit ….love you sweetie!!!!!

  • Shantee Hicks

    Good luck Nia God Bless you and all your endeavors you got this :-)

  • Eva L. Miller

    Healthy eating equates longevity, that is what i am striving for.

  • Karine Smith

    Great job Nia.

  • renrick

    Yummy healthy cookies in a needed conscious healthy society- for our children. Go Nia Froome! My vote for you.


    Nia God is in the mist of ever step you make your church family are behind you 100% Heathly eating that is what God want for us keep up the good work for healthy eating. Eternally Women you are love and God Blessing.


    Good luck to you, Nia! It was great meeting you and your family at the Whedco kitchen! You have a great product and a wonderful attitude!

  • Mae Pearson

    Wishing you the best of luck to you Nia!!!! Know that God is with you so stay strong and focused and without a doubt you will surely see success.

  • Lucille Clark

    Wow! My emotions are doing somersaults! It has been almost four years since I have seen you and your family, but it sounds like you’ll have taken eating healthy to a whole new level. Way to go! Congratulations on your business and the courage to move forward with your idea; and, I wish you well in this competition. Namaste!

  • Dayna

    I think it’s great that Nia has taken the energy that young people have, and has channeled it into something positive and delicious! Go Nia go!

  • Malik Canty

    Excellent choice for this award…

  • Rita McCormick

    I am extremely proud of Nia, she is a posiitve role model and an inspiration to other young women of color

  • Hakikah Shamsiden

    I am awed by all three contestants and I am assured that amazing futures lay ahead for each of them.  Congratulations to all and a special shout out to Miss Nia!

  • Decima Jackson

    Congratulations Nia & continued success.

  • Lorna Taylor

    Congratulations Nia, way to go. God Bless!!

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  • M D Tasher

    Daniel 10:19 God love you, so don’t let anything worry you or frighten you Nia : it’s your season to be the winner !!! Congratulation ~~ continue to be at your better best !!!

  • Dawn Curmon

    Nia, May God Continue to Bless you, abundantly.

  • Elise Watson

    Nia,continued blessings upon you. Congratulation.

  • Rendel S.

    As an investor, I’d put my money behind any of these businesses. However, my heart belongs with Lezli and Chris Harvell of Dental Kidz!! I love you guys. Keep up the great work and congratulations to all of the contestants. Maybe I’ll see you in Chicago!


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