Max Nelson  | September 13, 2018

Meet The 2018 Dream Big Finalists

Big dreams deserve big rewards!

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is proud to partner with MetLife to recognize the very best in American small business. The Dream Big Awards program celebrates the achievements of small businesses and highlights their contributions to America’s economic growth.

The Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award celebrates the success of one small business and honors its contributions to the growth and diversity of the American economy. This award recognizes a small business that exemplifies the spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship, and individual initiative. The 2018 Small Business of the Year Award winner will receive national recognition and a $25,000 cash prize!

This year’s finalists, selected from a record number of applicants, for The Dream Big Awards program include:

  • HousePaws – Mount Laurel, NJ
  • NightLight Pediatric Urgent Care – Sugar Land, TX
  • Renfro Foods, Inc. – Fort Worth, TX

HousePaws is a state-of-the-art mobile veterinary service that focuses on preventative medicine, client education, and thorough patient care. Since 2010, HousePaws has served patients throughout New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. In this time, HousePaws has grown from one employee working out a family minivan to over 80 employees, a fleet of mobile practice vehicles and 3 fully-equipped hospital locations. HousePaws has a unique business model: a fusion of modern veterinary medicine with traditional client-centered service, with the majority of patients seen in the comforts of their home. The company’s mobile practice brings radiography, ultrasonagraphy, emergency medical care, and routine veterinary care right to the door of patients. Hospitals allow HousePaws to provide a broader and deeper range of treatments. And the company’s emergency transport service allows patient transport on oxygen or under anesthesia between local hospitals and specialty centers, often saving lives by doing so.

“I truly understand the human-animal connection– pets don’t talk back, and they offer unconditional love to their human companions,” said founder Dr. Lisa Aumiller. “The stress that pet owners experience with failing pet health is genuine and significant, and when I can relieve some, if not most of that stress through treatment and education, I feel a deep satisfaction that matches the calling that drew me to veterinary medicine.”   

NightLight Pediatric Urgent Care, the first minority woman owned pediatric urgent care centers of its kind, provides quality, affordable and compassionate pediatric urgent care for infants, children, and adolescents weekdays, weekends, and holidays. Before NightLight opened in 2007, there were no options for parents if their child got sick after the pediatrician office closed other than the emergency room. Zawadi Bryant, Dr. Anastasia Gentles, and Connie Cazares created NightLight so parents could avoid the hassle of the emergency room and bring their child into a warm, kid-friendly environment. Shorter wait times, pediatricians on staff, and affordable care are a few of the many benefits of NightLight Pediatric. While the initial goal is to provide a solution to emergency rooms overcrowded with children, the owners have also made an impact on their communities through job opportunities and community involvement. NightLight now has eight locations in the area and a virtual, telemedicine service, with three more locations projected by the end of 2019.

“I’m motivated by our supporters, employees, and my fellow co-founders and family,” said CEO Zawadi Bryant. “The challenge of continuing to grow our brand excites me. I also believe that leadership is a privilege, and I want to set a standard and example for the team.”

Renfro Foods is in the highly competitive condiment business, which comprises far more than just salsas. Competing against smaller mom & pop operations as well as some of the largest food manufacturing conglomerates in the world, Renfro manufactures flavored sauces, salsas, relishes and cheese sauce products. Under the umbrella of the Mrs. Renfro’s brand, the company’s core products are specialty salsas, which differentiate Renfro from the traditional mild, medium and hot varieties of most brands. Renfro Foods features flavorful and unique ingredients like black bean, chipotle, garlic, habanero, mango, peach, pineapple, pomegranate, raspberry, tequila, Ghost Pepper, and the newly launched, even hotter Carolina Reaper salsa. Additional products include jalapeno peppers, pickles, barbecue sauces, chow chow and a variety of relishes. Many groceries carry anywhere from 7 to 10 varieties Mrs. Renfro’s products, in addition to private labels that Renfro Foods produces for other companies.

“We are located in an economically challenged area,” said President Doug Renfro. “Providing good-paying jobs for our neighbors and investing in our neighborhood to keep it safe is nothing less than the fulfillment of our promise to provide security and share prosperity. Seeing the positive difference we can make in our community really takes the cake – or the queso!”

Business Achievement Awards

In addition to announcing the Dream Big Small Business of the Year, businesses are recognized for achievement awards in six categories. This year’s finalists include:

Emerging Business Achievement Award

  • The Digital Ring – Madison, WI
  • Stonehill – Tampa, FL
  • The Title Girl – Addison, TX

Green/Sustainable Business Achievement Award

  • Glen’s Garden Market – Washington, DC
  • Kaddas Enterprises – Salt Lake City, UT
  • Manakai Swimwear – Paia, HI

Minority-Owned Business Achievement Award 

  • Language on Demand – Annandale, VA
  • Southwest Office Systems, Inc. – Dallas Fort Worth, TX
  • Vistra Communications, LLC – Lutz, FL

Veteran-Owned Business Achievement Award 

  • Delmarva Veteran Builders – Salisbury, MD
  • ScoutComms – Fredericksburg, VA
  • Strata-G, LLC – Knoxville, TN (Nominated by Knoxville (TN) Chamber of Commerce)

Woman-Owned Business Achievement Award

  • Beary Cherry Tree – Metairie, LA (Nominated by Jefferson (LA) Chamber of Commerce)
  • EvolveMKD – New York, NY
  • MotionMobs – Birmingham, AL

Young Entrepreneur Achievement Award

  • Campfire Industries – South Jordan, UT
  • Lil Ice Cream Dude LLC – Athens, GA
  • Modern Mind Technologies, LLC – Dearborn, MI (Nominated by Rudaina Hamade, Metro Detroit YEA! Ambassador’s Club and U.S. Chamber Small Business Council member)

The Dream Big Awards program winners are honored each year at the Small Business Summit during the Dream Big Awards Gala. Award winners will be announced at the Dream Big Awards Celebration on Wednesday, October 3 in Washington, D.C. as part of the 2018 Small Business Summit taking place at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Congratulations to this year’s finalists—and good luck in the final round!

**Now in its fourteenth year, the Small Business Summit will celebrate the small business owners we engage with around the nation and bring together leading business experts to inspire and educate business leaders with new tools, strategies, and best practices to bring back to their companies and communities. Register here.