The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 2018 Seattle District Encore Entrepreneur of the Year is Ross and Trivonna Irwin, president and vice president, of Cabinets by Trivonna in Lacey, Washington. Founded in 2006, Cabinets by Trivonna custom designs kitchens and other cabinet-based needs for home-owners and contractors within the state of Washington and Northern Oregon.
The local cabinet designer not only opened a business that survived through the Great Recession, but thrived by filling an industry niche focusing solely on product design and not production. They now employ four full-time designers and refer all their actual construction work out to other local contractors; creating more local work and profit.
“The work they do in designing these cabinets and kitchens is amazing in itself,” SBA Seattle District Director Kerrie Hurd said. “But their commitment to keeping the actual construction work local is also vital. The more success they have the more success the community has; that’s what makes a business community thrive.”
The SBA Encore Entrepreneur of the Year award – part of National Small Business Week April 29-May 5, 2018 – recognizes small business owners who started a business after the age of 50 and who demonstrate staying power and substantiated history as an established business with at least three years of business operation. Winners must also show growth in net worth and business expansion, increase in jobs and sales, innovativeness of products or services, response to adversity and contributions to community-oriented projects.
“We started the business when I was 59 and Trivanna was 55, at the start of a recession it turned out,” Ross said. “We made it through by not just putting our customers first, but by truly getting to know them and their families and designing a product truly meant to fit their needs.”
Ross said they don’t let a customer buy a product without fully explaining what it is they are buying. They work with customers and contractors to be able to design a product within one-quarter of an inch to specifications and only refer contractors that put the customer as front and center as they do; because Ross says, the relationship and trust of the customer are what matters most.
“National Small Business Week is a time to recognize the impact of small businesses in the Pacific Northwest by sharing their inspirational stories of success, resilience, and determination,” SBA Regional Administrator Jeremy Field said. “It’s my honor to celebrate the entrepreneurs who use innovation to solve problems, create jobs and make a difference in our local communities.”
A celebration honoring local SBA winners from Washington state and the SBA Seattle District – which serves the state of Washington and northern Idaho – will be May 3, 2018. Other SBA local awards that will be recognized at the celebration include the Small Business Person of the Year, Exporter of the Year, Encore Entrepreneur of the Year, Family-Owned Small Business of the Year, Millennial Entrepreneur of the Year, Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year and Small Business Champion of the Year.
Each year since 1963, the President has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of National Small Business Week. SBA recognizes outstanding small business owners for their personal successes and contributions to our nation.
For more information about National Small Business Week, visit www.sba.gov/nsbw.