High Caliber Companies

Entrepreneurship has long been viewed as one of the paths to achieving wealth. Our Ultimate Wealth Builders series shows that the overwhelming majority of African Americans who have acquired and passed on wealth have been entrepreneurs. This fact isn’t lost on the winners of the 2005 BLACK ENTERPRISE Small Business Awards. Recognized during the 10th annual Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference hosted by General Motors, held in May at the Wyndham Anatole hotel in Dallas, this year’s victors have all successfully filled the void in a niche market to build thriving enterprises. For information about the 2006 conference or to nominate a small business, call 800-543-6786 or visit blackenterprise.com.

To find the best in show, BE’s editors surveyed a range of businesses and selected companies that exemplify stellar concepts and push black entrepreneurship to new heights. Over the next four pages, we will introduce them to you.

BUSINESS INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR: DR. JOHN CREWS, DR. DERRON SIMON, MID-ATLANTIC SURGICAL ASSOCIATES P.L.L.C. The use of robotics in medicine allows for unprecedented control and precision of surgical instruments in minimally invasive procedures. The growing awareness of its benefits has led to a thriving practice for Drs. John Crews and Derron Simon.

The founders of Mid-Atlantic Surgical Associates are perhaps the first African American robotic surgery team to use instruments as small as a pencil tip and 3-D magnification of the surgical site. Their practice was awarded Business Innovator of the Year, which recognizes companies that have set trends and broken new ground in a particular industry.

Robotic surgery is minimally invasive, requires a shorter hospital stay and smaller incisions, and offers faster recovery for patients. The surgeon can perform intricate procedures by using joystick-like controls to manipulate the surgical instruments. “The robotic arms are inside the patient’s abdomen. We sit in a console 12 to 20 feet away, and one of us will be controlling [the robot] with our legs and fingers,” explains Simon.

The firm, which launched in 2002 with $60,000, grossed $820,000 in revenues last year. Crews, 35, and Simon, 36, were trained in robotics at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey; Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York; and Johns Hopkins University Medical Center in Baltimore.

With expansion plans in the works, the two surgeons are keeping apprised of the latest technology. “The coolest thing about the equipment is that you are actually looking inside a patient’s body through a lens and every motion you make is picked up by the robot,” says Crews.

EMERGING COMPANY OF THE YEAR LISA PRICE, CAROL’S DAUGHTER Lisa Price’s love for fragrances goes back as far as she can remember. As a 5-year-old, she recalls opening her grandmother’s bureau drawers and smelling the exotic scents of perfumes bought in far-away countries. “My aunt would travel to Germany, and in her travels she’d bring back gifts,” Price recalls.

Now 42, Price has turned that passion for fragrances and creams into a thriving business. Carol’s Daughter, the company she launched in 1993, now offers a line of more than