Orange County award-winning business leaders share stories of resilience, success

Published 12:30 am Thursday, June 16, 2022

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Multiple small businesses and local leaders were lauded this week for outstanding work in the community.

The honors were bestowed during the 2022 Annual Small Business Awards Banquet, hosted by Lamar State College Port Arthur’s Small Business Development Center at the Pompano in Port Neches.

Chelsea Richard and Sarah Morris, owners of the Start-Up Business of the Year Pawfection Pet Grooming in Orange, had a bumpy start but are following their dreams.

Morris said Pawfection began in May 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, then hurricane season came along and their roof caved in. This led to a temporary closure while renovations were conducted.

“We opened back up in November (2020) and have been busy ever since,” Morris said.

Richard said they both are animal lovers and their dream growing up was to own a business while helping animals.

“And we found that in the grooming industry,” Richard said.

CASA of Sabine Neches Region was named the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year.

Board treasurer Cil Dixon explained to the large crowd of attendees that CASA provides trained individuals to represent abused and neglected children in court across Orange, Hardin, Jasper, Newton, Sabine and Tyler counties.

“We have a large area, and none of this would be possible without the help of our volunteers,” Dixon said. “Currently, we have 45 volunteers but we need a lot more. So if you have an interest and a heart for children, we encourage you to reach out to us.”

Carrie Hackberth, one of the owners of Soiree & Vine in Nederland, earned Restaurant of the Year.

The business began at the end of 2020, and the storefront on Boston Avenue opened in March 2021.

“We’ve only been open about a year and half, and we’re so proud of what we’ve accomplished in such a short time frame,” Hackberth said. “The dream for Soiree & Vine started out very simple: it was to give the community a place to eat and get some delicious healthy snacks while they shopped on Boston Avenue. Slowly we’ve evolved into so much more than that.”

The eatery is now catering for plants, local events and weddings and also offers breakfast such as tacos, sandwiches, breakfast pizzas, lunch in the store, soups, salads, sandwiches, charcuterie, desserts and a full service salad bar.

Vinnie Tran, owner of Port Neches Small Business of the Year Shipley Do-Nuts, said his family owned and operated several locations in the area for more than 25 years from Beaumont and Port Arthur to Orange and Lake Charles.

Tran and wife Lauren left the area 16 years ago to make their own mark in life with the goal of coming back to the community that raised them.

They left their corporate jobs and came home to make money for themselves and to build generational wealth for their children, he said.

“To be recognized in the first four years of business really means a lot to us and is a testament to how my wife was brought up in doughnuts her whole life,” he said. “We wouldn’t be anywhere without our families’ support. All the successes we’ve achieved have come from their years of trials and tribulations. I’d like to thank them for paving the way and showing us how it should be done.”

Dana Espinal, director of the SBDC, was mistress of ceremonies for the event. She called it an honor to work with the chambers of commerce and individuals.

Business of the Year awards presented by area chambers of commerce:

  • Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce — Troop Industrial
  • Nederland Chamber of Commerce & Tourist Center — La Suprema Mexican Restaurant
  • Groves Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau — Armentor’s United Martial Arts
  • Bridge City Chamber of Commerce — CASA of Sabine Neches Region
  • Vidor Chamber of Commerce — Vidor Nutrition
  • Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce — The Orange Stationer

Lamar State College Port Arthur SBDC Business Awards:

  • Restaurant of the Year — Soiree & Vine, Nederland
  • Start-Up Business of the Year — Pawfection Pet Grooming, Orange
  • Service Business of the Year — KLV Ventures, LLC, Port Arthur
  • Veteran Business of the Year — Red Lion Tactic, LLC, Orange
  • Minority Business of the Year (tie): Complete Health Care Clinic, PLLC, Port Arthur and OTRA Hispanic Media, Port Arthur
  • Star Business of the Year — Prosperity Building Group, LLC, Nederland
  • Small Business Champion of the Year: Kay DeCuir, executive director of the Nederland Economic Development Corporation and Linda Tate, former director of the SBDC, was awarded for years of dedicated service

— Written by Mary Meaux