Barrio Logan’s VetPowered Owner Wins SBA California’s “Small Business Person of the Year” Award

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The first week of May is National Small Business Week, and among the top entrepreneurs recognized by the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) is Hernán Luis y Prado, founder and CEO of San Diego company VetPowered.

Prado, a client of the San Diego & Imperial Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network, was named “Small Business Person of the Year” by SBA California.

“On behalf of my family and the entire VetPowered team, I am honored to be named California’s ‘Small Business of the Year’ in the extremely competitive state of California,” said Prado. “The SBDC and SBA have proven to be our proven partners in our quest to overcome some extremely difficult situations – from securing critical financing to purchasing properties and equipment necessary for our growth; and help us navigate the turbulent seas of the ever-changing pandemic. Gross sales have reached millions, but VetPowered wouldn’t be in business without the SBA and its resource partners like the SBDC. »

A disabled veteran, Prado and his wife Rachel sold everything they owned to start the advanced manufacturing company VetPowered, as well as provide advanced manufacturing training and jobs for veterans.

“Our North San Diego SBDC team and the government contracting specialists who have worked closely with him are proud of Hernán,” said Daniel Fitzgerald, SBDC Regional Network Manager. “Prado has combined expert advice and free support with hard work and purpose – the very ingredients SBDC provides for our community’s business success.”

To ease the difficult transition from military service to seeking a fair-paying career, the Prados launched the nonprofit “Workshops for Warriors,” which prepares veterans and wounded warriors for careers making weapons. point.

VetPowered secured SBA 504 and 7(a) loans to purchase its first manufacturing facility in the Barrio Logan neighborhood of San Diego. Sales and credit increased and they were able to secure a private loan. They then obtained the 8(a) certification, which helped them to increase their sales considerably.

When the pandemic hit, Vetpowered rallied and began to pivot with the help of the SBDC and SBA. The company was able to obtain an EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan), which enabled the purchase of equipment necessary to maintain operations and gain a competitive advantage. They also secured two PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) draws with forgiveness, allowing them to maintain and grow their operations by subsidizing payroll to retain all staff throughout the pandemic without cutting hours or salaries. Prado was also able to refinance the company’s debt and purchase space for a training center, corporate headquarters and other facilities. They now own 145,000 square feet of property spanning five city blocks in Barrio Logan, a HUBZone.

“VetPowered’s investment in the Barrio Logan community will continue to have a positive impact for years to come,” said Congressman Juan Vargas (D-CA 51st District). From creating jobs for local community members and veterans, to providing a much-requested service, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Hernán and the entire VetPowered team on this exciting achievement. Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy, and I’m proud to celebrate Hernán’s success and entrepreneurial spirit in my district. I thank Hernán for his continued leadership and commitment to our veterans and our community. »

Prado kept all the employees and hired two new ones. He transitioned training events online and redesigned the website to sell products and services. VetPowered has also created a new division to manufacture and sell VetPowered branded parts online. He also bought three properties in 18 months; these included an apartment building to house expelled employees and workshop attendees as well as a restaurant, which he turned into a commissary to feed employees, attendees, and neighborhood residents.

“100 years from now,” Prado said, “I hope Americans will look back and see that VetPowered and San Diego was the birthplace of America’s green manufacturing renaissance, where we ushered in a new era of manufacturing. cutting-edge socially and ecologically responsible and sustainable.

“I sincerely hope that others will see our work as an example of the great things that are possible when a community works together. We are eternally grateful to the SBA and SDBC, and will make this award a testament to our continued work here in Barrio Logan to support rebuilding America’s manufacturing strength with veterans.

To learn more about the company, visit vetpowered.com. SBA’s winning entrepreneurs and companies were also honored at a national event today, May 5 — and were up for national titles — during the week’s virtual summit themed “Building a Better America.” through entrepreneurship.

“Prado is a noble veteran and visionary as well as an award-winning leader, entrepreneur and philanthropist,” said Mike Sovacool, deputy district manager for the SBA District Office in San Diego. “He has set a superb example for others in the business world, and beyond, to follow. I hope he continues to contribute greatly to the vibrant and growing small business community in San Diego, Imperial and beyond.

“Hernán has fully recognized and utilized the opportunities offered by the Small Business Administration. His strong ties to the SBDC, their knowledgeable and client-focused mentorship – resulting in his 8(a) and HUBZone certifications as well as pursuing government contracting opportunities – navigating through SBA loan programs and the follow-on partnership with the local lending community to access capital, and its search for applicable COVID funding that has enabled VetPowered to weather the storm during the pandemic; all of which is indicative of its shrewd and consistent partnership with the SBA, SBA Resource Partners, Associated Lenders, and related government departments. He greatly deserves this recognition and exemplifies the benefits of the application support systems available to all small businesses. »

The SBDC exists to help small businesses at no cost. Entrepreneurs can contact a business consultant who works with small business owners one-on-one and free of charge. Visit SDIVSBDC.org/advising to access an advisor or call (619) 482-6391 if needed. The SBDC website also offers other information such as free or discounted business resources and tools, as well as live and on-demand training.

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