News Column

Small Business Administration to Honor Three Tulsa Firms

April 13, 2012

Laurie Winslow

Margo Gray-Proctor calls herself a "generational entrepreneur," someone whose entire family -- including grandparents, parents, siblings and others -- have started businesses.

As a woman and American Indian, she advocates on behalf of minorities, stressing the importance of partnering and contracting with minority companies.

Gray-Proctor will join several other Oklahomans who are being honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration during a May 3 luncheon at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel in Oklahoma City.

President of Horizon Engineering Services in Tulsa, Gray-Proctor will be named the Region VI Minority Small Business Champion of the Year.

Other Tulsans being honored include Paul and Susan Hildebrand, owners of Economasters LLC, Oklahoma Exporter of the Year; and Pamela Edwards, president of Edwards Tax & Accounting, Oklahoma Financial Services Champion of the Year.

The 2012 Oklahoma Small Business Person of the Year award will go to David Waits, president and CEO of Stillwater-based SST Development Group Inc.

Waits developed software to help farmers improve productivity and lower costs. His company employs 51 people and has sales topping $6.6 million.

"Our family has always been a part of entrepreneurship," Gray-Proctor said in a phone interview.

All of her siblings at one time or another have been in business. Her mother and father over the length of their marriage had six businesses, including ranching and operating a bowling alley, she said.

As a teenager, Gray-Proctor learned from her father how to take inventory, talk to customers and sell Indian goods in a store.

"I learned early about how to use your voice to get across what you need to say and how to sell," she said.

Today, what she likes most about being an entrepreneur is the freedom to answer to herself.

"And I have a great business partner, and we've gone through the lows of business in the past few years, but we maintained. It's been tough, but we've also learned how to be successful," she said.

Gray-Proctor and Carl Cannizzaro established Horizon in 1998 to provide quality engineering services for American Indian tribes.

She said that while many companies contract with small minority companies, it still can be a challenge for them to land work. Often, large or out-of-state companies receive contracts for projects because people don't believe a small business can do a multimillion-dollar project, she said.

Gray-Proctor noted that her company, which employs 12 people, has many clients in other states and municipalities. The firm has never received a contract from the city of Tulsa, which is a future goal for Gray-Proctor, who would like to be part of the city's growth.

She said she enjoys being part of the development of facilities, including schools, wellness centers and casinos, which all create jobs and help a community prosper. SBA winners 2012 Oklahoma Small Business Person of the Year: David Waits, president and CEO of Stillwater-based SST Development Group Inc.

SBA National Young Entrepreneur: Mark Masters, CEO of Chloeta Fire LLC, Oklahoma City

Region VI Minority Small Business Champion of the Year: Margo Gray-Proctor, president of Horizon Engineering Services, Tulsa

Region VI Entrepreneurial Success Award: Darren Couch, president and CEO, Elite Construction and Fabrication, Antlers

Region VI Champions of Collaboration Award: Oklahoma City SCORE Chapter, REI Women's Business Center in Oklahoma City, Langston University Small Business Development Center in Oklahoma City

State Award Winners Oklahoma Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Business of the Year: Gary and Micki Rogers, owners of North Central Construction Inc., Stillwater

Oklahoma Exporter of the Year: Paul and Susan Hildebrand, owners of Economasters LLC, Tulsa

Oklahoma Women in Business Champion of the Year: Catherine Lee Brown, president, Initial Call Inc., Norman.

Oklahoma Financial Services Champion of the Year: Pamela Edwards, president of Edwards Tax & Accounting, Tulsa

Oklahoma Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year: Bernard Valdez, Lawton

Oklahoma Women's Business Center of Excellence: REI Women's Business Center; Dr. Barbara Rackley, Women's Business Center program manager, Durant; Jennifer Edwards, coordinator, Oklahoma City office

Oklahoma SCORE Chapter of the Year: Tulsa SCORE Chapter 194



Source: (c)2012 Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.)


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