Owners of Hawaiian Brewery Named Small Business People of the Year


small business person of the year 2017

Small Business Week is in full swing and Linda McMahon, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, has announced the Small Business Persons of The Year.

This year the honors were shared by Garrett and Melanie Marrero of Maui Brewing Company.

The husband and wife team have managed to grow a company that started in 2005 as a small, several barrel brewpub into a thriving enterprise.



SBA financing played a big part in helping them. By the second year of operations, the Marreros had added a second location and their march to small business success included revenues of more than $10 million by 2013 and a restaurant in Oahu last year.

Maui Brewing Company has plans to employ 700 people by the end of 2018. It is the largest craft beer producer is Hawaii.

McMahon also mentioned the runners-up  from Virginia, California and Kentucky. And she listed the regional winners from U.S. states and territories announced back in March.

The runners-up for this year’s Small Business Persons of The Year include:

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First Runner-up

Debra Dudley, President and Cofounder of Oscarware, Inc. in Bonnieville, Kentucky has taken her company to unparalleled success.

Founded in 1989, Oscarware, Inc is a family owned manufacturing business. The company’s flagship disposable “Grill Topper” was designed as a quick and easy way to cook in campgrounds and parks. Oscarware has added 17 other outdoor cooking gadgets and each of those products are made in Kentucky.

 Oscarware has taken advantage of SBA’s STEP exporting program to expand its client base into Canada and Europe. The company currently has 32 employees.  When co-founder Reg Dudley passed away in 2006, Debra took over the entire company and by 2015, Oscarware’s sales grew a record 50 percent.

Second Runner-up

Lars C. Herman, president of the Herman Construction Group, Inc., in Escondido, California, has won more than 80 design build and general construction contracts for his company since establishing it after serving with the US Navy and having a commission with the Civil Engineer Corps. These contracts range in price from $3,000 to nearly $24 million.  By making full use of the  SBA’s 8(a) Business Development and Mentor-Protégé programs, Herman has managed to foster double digit growth for his firm.

In the two years spanning 2013 to 2015, he received more than $80 million worth of contracts that were set aside specifically for small businesses.  Last year, his awards included $51 million in set-aside contracts.

Herman Construction Group, Inc  is an 8(a)-certified construction company specializing in federal projects.

Third Runner-up

Corliss Udoema, President and CEO of Contract Solutions, Inc. in Manassas, Virginia had a 32 year career with the federal government before launching his company. Contract Solutions, Inc. was founded in 2006. The company provides professional staffing and management support services to various levels of government.

SBA’s Office of Government Contracting assists Contract Solutions and the company uses its 8(a) certification to bid on set-aside contracts that might otherwise be difficult to access.

Udoema is also both the founder and president of Agape Love in Action, a nonprofit working too help those facing a variety of needs.

Image: Maui Brewing Co.

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Rob Starr


Rob Starr Rob Starr is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends. Rob is a freelance journalist and content strategist/manager with three decades of experience in both print and online writing. He currently works in New York City as a copywriter and all across North America for a variety of editing and writing enterprises.

One Reaction

  1. Aira Bongco

    Wow they have grown so much and their plans are great. This always inspires me to keep on moving forward.

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