By Hope Belli Tinney, Washington Small Business Development Center

SEATTLE, Wash. – Clients of the Washington Small Business Development Center made a strong showing at the U.S. Small Business Administration Washington State awards gala May 3 in Seattle.

The winners in four of nine small business categories, including Washington state’s 2018 Small Business Person of the Year, received some type of assistance from a Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC) business advisor.

The four winners include:

  • Danny House, owner of Dan the Sausageman gift baskets in Burien, was named the SBA 2018 Small Business Person of the Year. House started his business selling jerky and sausage door to door in South Puget Sound nearly 30 years ago and has built it into a profitable online enterprise with customers across the country. With technical assistance from his SBDC advisors Rich Shockley and Jennifer Dye, House was able to secure a $750,000 SBA-guaranteed loan to expand his warehouse/distribution center in Burien.
  • Tony Curtis, owner of Home Currents Technology in Vancouver, received the 2018 Veteran-owned Business Award. Buck Heidrick, the SBDC advisor in Vancouver, has been providing resources and tools to assist Curtis in making data-driven decisions since 2012. Curtis achieved a 700 percent increase in revenue in 2012, and another 1,000 percent increase from 2012 to 2013. Over the past five years his business has been awarded more than eight industry awards.
  • The 2018 Encore Entrepreneur Small Business Award went to Cabinets by Trivonna, a wife and husband team in Olympia who opened a cabinet design studio in 2006, when both were in their 50s. They credit Washington SBDC advisor Ron Nielsen with helping them build better business systems to manage cash flow and improve profitability. Nielsen’s work is supported by South Puget Sound Community College and he meets with clients in offices at the Center for Business and Innovation in Lacey.
  • The 2018 Family-Owned Small Business Award went to Melbourn Insurance, which has been in the Bourn family since 1977 and is headquartered in Winthrop. Owner Melinda Bourn has been working with daughters Korrie and Kelsey to ensure a smooth transition from one generation to the next set. Their advisor is Lew Blakeney, whose work is supported by The Economic Alliance of Okanogan County. His office is in Omak.

“These four SBA award winners are both remarkable and, in some ways, typical of the thousands of small business owners SBDC advisors meet with every year,” said Duane Fladland, state director of the Washington SBDC. “We are excited to celebrate their courage, creativity and persistence.”

In 2017, more than 2,150 small business owners received assistance from the Washington SBDC. Those clients credited their advisor(s) with helping them create or save 941 jobs and access more than $70 million in capital.

The Washington SBDC provides one-on-one, confidential advising on all aspects of business development, including cash flow, business systems, business plans, loan applications, marketing and more. SBDC services are funded by federal, state and local funding partners and advising is provided at no cost to the business owner.

The Washington SBDC is a network of more than two dozen business advisors and two export advisors working with SBDC clients across the state who want to start, grow or buy/sell a business. The Washington SBDC is hosted by Washington State University and receives major funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and from WSU as well as from other institutions of higher education, economic development agencies, ports, municipalities and public-private partnerships.

“It was a wonderful night to celebrate the successes of small business owners across the state of Washington,” said Fladland. “SBDC advisors do help struggling businesses, but a big part of what we do is help motivated business owners connect the dots to realize ambitious goals.

“Like a personal trainer working with an athlete,” he said, “an SBDC advisor can provide targeted assistance to help business owners make progress toward their goals.”

For more information, see the Washington SBDC website.



  • Duane Fladland, state director of the Washington SBDC, 509-358-7763,
  • Hope Belli Tinney, director of communications, Washington Small Business Development Center, 509-432-8254,