The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Upstate New York District has awarded its 2023 Veteran-Owned Business of the Year Award to Michael Bower, owner of Eagle Metalcraft in East Syracuse and its 2023 Woman-Owned Business of the Year Award to Alex Hawthorn, owner of Highland Animal Hospital in Central Square.
SBA Upstate New York District Director Bernard J. Paprocki presented the awards at their businesses as part of National Small Business Week. They were joined by Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon in East Syracuse and by Oswego County Administrator Phil Church and Oswego County Chairman Jim Weatherup in Central Square.
These businesses were selected from nominees across the district’s 34 counties as part of National Small Business Week, April 30 through May 6.
According to District Director Paprocki, the SBA Upstate New York District selected Bower as Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year for acquiring Eagle Metalcraft, a precision sheet metal fabrication business, after leading strong business growth as general manager during the pandemic, doubling sales and number of staff. Bower also gives back as a SCORE mentor and works with the Syracuse City School District P-TECH students, transitioning servicemembers and the Manufacturing Association of Central New York’s apprenticeship program.
Before becoming an entrepreneur, Bower learned the value of hard work growing up on a farm in Arkansas and serving in the United States Marine Corps.
With a strong belief in the region’s entrepreneurial spirit, he sought support from the Onondaga Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in 2020 to purchase and run a business in Central New York. Bower began working as general manager for Eagle Metalcraft in the worst sales month of the pandemic and began making improvements immediately while working on the business acquisition.
SBDC business adviser Mark Pitanzo guided Michael through the business valuation process, helped him write a business plan, and connected him with Citizen’s Bank in Syracuse. Bower received an SBA 7(a) loan from Citizen’s Bank in 2021 to purchase Eagle Metalcraft, which like SBA had its 70th anniversary this year.
An Oswego native, veterinarian Hawthorn received an SBA 7(a) loan from TD Bank in 2022 to construct a new 7,200-sq.-ft. facility on a property abutting existing operations, which is currently 3,000 square feet. She designed the building with the needs of her patients and staff at the forefront, preparing to double her staff and fill a critical urgent care gap for Central New York’s pets this summer.
“Helping and healing animals is tremendously rewarding. We are excited to expand our services to our surrounding community,” said Hawthorn. “It has been such a pleasure working in the Central New York area over the last four years. We are fortunate to have the most wonderful patients and clients, and we can’t wait to continue these relationships for many years to come!”
In the few years since Hawthorn has taken over the practice, Highland Animal Hospital has already increased its client load 50%, doubled sales revenue, added five new staff members, rebranded and modernized equipment.
“Dr. Hawthorn has shown how SBA services and lenders can support entrepreneurs like her who save lives every day. It’s clear that Dr. Hawthorn’s dedication to animals extends to her staff and her community, and we can’t wait to see what she does next,” said Paprocki.