SBA Names Dawn Inc. CEO Business Person of the Year

WARREN – Local businesswoman Dawn Ochman has been named the 2023 Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Cleveland District.

The award is based on criteria such as growth in employees, growth in sales, resiliency, overcoming adversity and community involvement.

Ochman, president and CEO of Dawn Inc., received the award May 2 in a ceremony at her company headquarters in Warren. Her construction company will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year.

Dawn Inc. now has 35 people on staff, but Ochman said in the past 30 years it has gone through a lot of transitions.

“In 1993, I started with one dump truck and was a subcontractor,” she said. “In 2008, when the economy shifted, we focused more on federal work, and that’s when we transitioned into construction. Since then, it has grown into the commercial and industrial markets.”

The company does federal, industrial and commercial work. Ochman said some of her more recognizable work includes the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County, the federal buildings in downtown Youngstown, the Youngstown YWCA, and the Lodge at Geneva-on-the- Lake.

“It’s so overwhelming and humbling,” she said. “The award is given to me, but the award is really to the whole team. We have an amazing team here. We get along well, and we work well together.”

The company also does a lot of charitable work in the community, Ochman said. Currently it is working with Dylan’s House to find housing for adults with autism.

“We sit down, we focus, we put our heads together, and really there is nothing we can’t accomplish,” she said.

As a small business owner, Ochman said it is her job to take care of her employees, and then they do the same to the customers.

“It is my job to have a pulse on what they need in the way of growth opportunities, in the way of training, in the way of benefits. I need to foster a good culture for them, and then they will in turn take care of our customers,” she said.

Ochman said what kept the company afloat through the years was its ability to adapt with the times, even through economic hardships.

John Turner, newly named director for the SBA’s Cleveland District, presented the award to Ochman.

The SBA has 68 offices across the United States. The Cleveland District gave out only one award this year, he said. In past years, it gave out multiple awards.

Pictured at top: John Turner, director of the SBA’s Cleveland District, presents the award to Dawn Ochman, president and CEO of Dawn Inc.