Small businesses honored

Published 3:57 pm Thursday, June 30, 2016


Local and small businesses were recognized for their achievements and contributions at the 2016 Business Awards and Small Business Person of the Year Annual Banquet at the Pompano Club in Port Neches. The event was hosted by the Small Business Development Center at Lamar State College—Port Arthur, along with the four local Chambers of Commerce in the Mid County area.

It was a time for honoring the struggles and accomplishments of those people who are their own bosses and everything that that entails.

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It’s hard running your own business because you’re the one there from start time to end time, running the shop, doing the books, and cleaning the toilets, explained Linda Tait, Director of the SBDC at Lamar State, who had some experience operating her own business back in the day.

Tait went on to introduce the biggest award of the night, Entrepreneur of the Year, Rochelle Perrio Jeane, owner of Strands Hair Spa and Boutique, who exemplified the outstanding qualities of a successful business owner. “She never fails to show customers every courtesy,” Tait said, highlighting Jeane’s start in 1995 as a single mom and worker to her eventual rise in 2005 when she bought the building which would one day become the present day spa and boutique on Nall Street in Port Neches.

“Well, guys, I’m just so honored,” Jeane said, when accepting her award. “I am so thankful to everybody and God most of all.” The spa and boutique owner showed her appreciation by repeatedly thanking everyone involved and emphasizing the collaborative nature of a business.

“You cannot run a business by yourself,” Jeane said, checking off colleagues, customers, and perseverance as the building blocks for a successful enterprise. “We live in an awesome community with awesome customers.” However, Jeane was quick to point out one in particular that helped her business reach its current level of prosperity. “When you make God the center of your business, [you’ll] be in good hands.”

Jeane referred to an event in the past where bankers had incorrectly appraised a business venture $20,000 out of her reach, and she knew that she could not afford it. “I prayed every night,” Jeane said, in hopes of getting it right. And, sure enough, the price was lowered to something that she could handle.

“I appreciate this so much,” Jeane went on to conclude. “I’m honored by it.”

The Start-Up Business of the Year was awarded to Sunny Hong of Sunny’s Donuts in Nederland, who was unfortunately not able to make it to the awards banquet. Conrad Cooper, Business Advisor for the SBDC, recounted how Hong told him “I want to own my own business,” and how the SBDC and the Nederland Economic Development Corporation helped that become a reality.

In an inspiring tale that began nearly 40 years ago in Vietnam and resulted in him becoming doctor, owner and Medical Director of First Response Urgent Care in Port Arthur, Dr. Thi Nguyen received the Professional Services Business of the Year award.

“I’m so honored to finally get to eat here at the Pompano Club!” Dr. Nguyen joked at the podium stand. He soon grew serious, though, and extended his heartfelt thanks to his parents, his family, and the community that helped make his dream come true.

“It feels really good to finally be home,” Dr. Nguyen said, expressing his desire to help take care of the community that he grew up in. “Here, I believe every patient deserves to see a doctor—to get one on one [time] with a hometown doctor.”

Emphasizing his roots and initial education in Port Arthur, Dr. Nguyen went on to confess that, “I came here to be a hometown doctor.”

The Service Business of the Year honor went to Mike Tarver of Mid-County Taxi. “I want to thank all the sponsors, all the chambers, and the SBDC,” Tarver said. “It’s been nothing but encouragement [from them].”

Tarver, 64, stated early on that Mid-County needed a taxi service, and a first class taxi service at that. “One of my goals was to cut down on DWIs,” the taxi owner said, telling of his desire for safer driving conditions for all Southeast Texans.

Joseph and Amanda Doiron won the Restaurant of the Year prestige for their local eatery, Blue’s Drive Thru and Carry Out, in Groves. “We’re very grateful for the award. Thank you to all the customers who made it possible,” Mr. Doiron said.

The co-owner went on to sincerely thank the many people and organizations that helped make their home-styled meals business a success, including Linda Tait “for being very knowledgeable and very caring”; his mother “for growing a good foundation to build upon”; and, most of all, his wife, “for everything that words can’t express.”

In the Chamber of Commerce Awards:

  • Debbie Broussard received Groves’ Small Business of the Year honor for her dance studio, Debbie’s Dance Etc.
  • The Port Neches Small Business of the Year award went to Chris Johnson of Summer’s Abbey Flooring Center.
  • Patsy Tackett and Letha Ruiz took home Nederland’s Small Business of the Year prestige for The Rustic Door.
  • The Port Arthur Small Business of the Year award went to Operations Manager, Ray Thompson, along with owners, Christie Gerstenberg and Sondra “Alex” Thompson, for ArmorShred.