Three natural products entrepreneurs are among the 2015 honorees as Small Business Person of the Year.
The U.S. Small Business Administration announces 54 annual winners from each states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The national winner will be recognized May 8 as a culmination of National Small Business week May 4-8.
Industry winners include Michael Smulders of the Bakery on Main brand based in Connecticut, Hawaii state Sen. Russell Ruderman of Island Naturals Market stores and Frank Medina-Rivera of the Vita Natura supplement chain in Puerto Rico.
Bakery on Main's Smulders is a natural foods retailer turned gluten-free brand leader. By filling his customers' needs, a packaged product line was born. "It became our mission to give these people better tasting products that were better for them," he told the Hartford Courant last week.
Sen. Ruderman helms the Island Naturals chain of three stores on Hawaii's Big Island. A longtime local government participant including serving on waste and agriculture committees, Ruderman says Island Naturals Markets operates on collaborative relationships and was the first in the state to implement several green initiatives.
Medina-Rivera leads the Vita Natura 17-store supplement chain in Puerto Rico.