Oregon Small Business Owner Of The Year: Robert Powell Of Fab-Tech

Fab TechLast May Robert Powell of Prineville received some very good news: he was honored with the Small Business Association's 2015 Oregon Small Business Owner of the Year Award, which is presented each year to celebrate local small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Robert started his business, Fab-Tech, in 1999 as a side job. Six years later he opened the full-service structural steel fabrication company business in Prineville. He was motivated by his desire to be his own boss, teach his children to be independent and the freedom to spend more time with his wife and kids.

To ensure his business got off to a solid start, he signed up for the yearlong Small Business Management Program offered by COCC's Small Business Development Center (SBDC). He says that he was initially skeptical about the program, but quickly became impressed by the in-the-trenches expertise of the instructors. "They are a great staff to work with and have a vast wealth of business knowledge," says Robert.

Robert recalls that one of the key points he learned was the importance of establishing a business philosophy: "It helped me look at my business differently, and think about how I want my customers to view us as a business."

The college's SBDC is a local organization that offers education and one-on-one advising to businesses just starting out or looking to grow to the next level. "We have many resources that help businesses to become more successful and a thriving part of the community," says Steven Curley, director of the SBDC.

The Small Business Management program that Robert participated in is a year-long program that takes the business owner through critical areas of running a successful business from financial to operations to sales and marketing.

"Fab-Tech is a great example of the type of business that can benefit from the college's SBDC services," says Curley, "Robert had the technical skills as a fabricator to do great work, but he needed to learn how to run the business side of his operation, which is a different set of knowledge and skills."

The Small Business Development Center at COCC is focused on helping build Oregon's best businesses. They offer no-cost one-to-one business advising, business planning, educational workshops, market research and assistance in accessing capital for businesses. The goal of the SBDC is to have a positive impact on the growth and sustainability of the Central Oregon economy.